Interview with entrepreneur, distress jean maker for House of Chelle Boutiques!
TL Mag: Who are you?
NRN: Natalie Rochelle Noble – mother, mentor, AKA, entrepreneur. All about being motivation to my circle around me.
TL Mag: What was the concept for distressed jeans?
NRN: When I was younger I always thought about being a teacher. My dreams were never to become a fashion designer. I always knew I wanted to be something to people. I knew teaching would be the thing for me. I remember being in 7th grade, I would always try to find my style. When I got in high school I would watch and study fashion designers and other design elements to try and find my style and who I was fashionably. When I graduated I had a few issues with self-esteem but quickly figured it out. I thought my style was very unique in that I would shop at the thrift store to find unique items. I focused on finding that self-love in myself to not care what anyone thought about how I dressed. In doing that, in college I had a lot of people who would inquire about [my style]. They would always say that I had strange pieces.
I made a pair of jeans and put it on Instagram and many people complimented me on it. I tried to start a fashion blog and wanted to talk about fashion. Took a shot with some distressed shorts (my favorite pair) and got a lot of compliments. So I started to play around with designs and taught myself how to sew. And people began to ask me to make them some.
A fellow soror was conducting an after-school program for young school kids, and through that soror I was able get a grant and launched a program for young women that would help build self-esteem and beauty. I taught the children many different things about beauty and how to sew and other things that would help build them up. [The children] did a fashion show with the pieces they made and some of my pieces. People began to ask about how much were the pieces I had at the fashion show. Although none of them were for sale, I told people to contact me on IG and I would make something custom for them.
When I graduated [college], I didn’t have a job and was pregnant. I needed to do something. So I decided to start making jeans. A friend helped me get a lot of vintage clothing and denim. Her grandmother had a lot of clothing that she needed to be taken off her hands, I remember purchasing many of the items for $1. I took pictures of all the items I bought and told people to email me if they wanted the items – I ended up selling out of all my items.
TL Mag: How do you get your jeans to customers?
NRN: When I first started customers were bringing their jeans to me and I would distress them for the customers. I remember, however, that the denim that they would bring to me would not distress and fringe and do what I needed them to do for customization. So I had to stop people from bringing me denim unless they bring me specific types of jeans like Gap, Wrangler, Levi, L.E.I. for example.
Then I decided to get jeans myself. The denim is distressed by hand, and then I do a variation of washing the denim and other distressed techniques. The more they’re washed the better they get. I make sure that the clients gets special instructions on how to take care of their denim.
TL Mag: Was your first pair of jeans an accident or done on purpose?
NRN: The very first pair was done on purpose and they were terrible. I still have them because they are my learning lesson. I messed up the jeans by putting square holes in the jeans and not the rips and slits that they’re supposed to have. The jean denim was not the perfect type that I was supposed to have. I learned a lot of things through trial and error for what I was trying to accomplish.
I want people to see that when they look at my jeans I’m on top of my game and want to make sure they look unique. I am constantly coming up with different techniques so that I can stand out from the crowd. I truly had to study the art of denim.
I am a communications major and the one thing I remember [from school] is that I always must make sure that people remembers me. I give every client a personally signed thank you card and always makes sure they get a follow up. I want to make sure that customers get an experience. House of Chelle’s mission is to make premium denim hand-crafted just for you. I want to make sure that the customer always loves the product.
TL Mag: Do you see yourself, in the future, getting your denim manufactured?
NRN: I have invested in custom jean design, but I currently only refurbished and reinvent already manufactured jeans. But eventually I want to get my own patching, stitching, and designs out. I have a wholesale partnership with a vendor in Los Angeles. I am investing in my customers’ experience to hopefully grow into a larger brand. I tie my jeans with a pink bow for women orders and a rustic bow for men orders. I also want the brand to stand for everyone. I want to bring out the rebellious, rambunctious person in everyone with their style and my jeans.
TL Mag: As you progress, what would you say to the next entrepreneur?
NRN: I started with $10 in my pocket in 2014. I bought some denim sold those and use the profits to continue investing in my brand. Every $1 I made I used it to level up my brand and get everything I needed for it.
Don’t think that because you think you need something that you can’t grasp your dreams. All you need is Wi-Fi and dreams. Lack of money is not a limitation. There are many free solutions you can use to help get your brand off the ground until you start making money to get an even more professional look.
TL Mag: When you begin to be who you want to be with House of Chelle, where will you price points be?
NRN: Prices will fluctuate based on detail and what goes into the product. Prices will continue to reasonable, the client will come first.
Natalie is from Chicago and involved with community projects with her AKA sorority and other philanthropic missions. She donates to shelters and missions for battered women. Natalie’s passion is for Black businesses to collaborate more. She believes that we must come together more and learn to trust each other more. She says "we have wonderful things in our communities and we need to build upon it. We have to stop being fearful of working with one another. We’re too content with working with other and not ourselves." She says that our people have good ideas and we give support initially but never follow through the rest of the way. We need to better each other and bring each other up.
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Photos by Xposeur Photography
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