While some celebrities simply lend their names to their businesses, Reese Witherspoon sold her dream of a successful clothing line not only to customers but to investors as well.

The Big Little Lies actress and executive producer founded Draper James in 2015 as a way to pay homage to her southern heritage and her grandparents, who she says taught her about “gracious southern living.” The website had 160,000 visitors the first day, and certain items sold out in 24 hours, according to trade publication Women’s Wear Daily.

Witherspoon took the initiative of convincing venture capitalists to invest in ...

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