NOLA Couture was established in 2006 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina – the ideal and actualization of the brand emerged from the need to lift peoples spirits, and rebuild New Orleans’ local economy. Born in New Orleans, the company celebrates the city’s individuality through custom designs featuring iconic Crescent City motifs. NOLA Couture’s was founded at a low point in New Orleans history, but soon because a way for people to show their NOLA pride.
During a trip to the Northeast in early 2006, NOLA Couture founder, Cecile Hardy, noticed a number of companies using New England-y motifs, like lighthouses and clams, in their designs. She thought, “Why don’t we have a clothing line like this in New Orleans? New Orleanians would love a unique way to show their hometown pride.” After receiving nothing but positive responses from friends and family (along with significant lists of design suggestions), she got to work creating a line that would highlight all the things both locals and visitors alike loved about this amazing city.
Born and bred in New Orleans, Hardy moved away for college. After completing a graduate program in New York City, she travelled to San Francisco to work in design and merchandising with Gap Corporate and Williams-Sonoma Home Corporate. It was there that she gained the experience and expertise she would later use to create her line. After Hurricane Katrina nearly destroyed her hometown, she decided it was time to take skills she had refined in San Francisco back to the city that desperately needed help. Even if she wasn’t out there with a hammer rebuilding houses, at the very least supporting local businesses would be a step towards strengthening the economy.
NOLA Couture launched with a men’s tie line featuring twelve designs. They were, admittedly, not the best looking designs, but customers loved them because they represented New Orleans. People could proudly wear upscale items celebrating the city they loved. NOLA Couture presold over 200 ties from samples alone. Some of the first designs were NOLAGators, Shrimp Cocktail, and Fleur de Lis. Hardy reached out to high end local stores to see if they would carry the line, and soon Perlis and Feet First became the first retailers to carry NOLA Couture.
As soon as the first tie delivery came in, all 1,200 ties sold out. NOLA Couture looked to their customers for design ideas, and continued to grow the line. Soon, NOLA Couture’s line included custom designed and locally manufactured belts, and almost immediately, customers were asking for children’s items and pet accessories so all members of the family could represent New Orleans. More recently, the company has added a line of homeware, including pillows, candles, glassware, and the wildly popular beach spikes, all featuring the New Orleans motifs that made the company stand out. We’re proud to have played a role in the revitalization of such an unique city.