Chrissy Teigen :: David Burton/SI
Nicole Gulotta is the owner and founder of Nomadic Thread Society, a dedicated purveyor of key lifestyle accents for the chic adventurer: a collection of beautiful bits inspired by stylist Nicole's travels. Traditional and exotic textiles are gathered from artisan collectives and small producers around the world. As you can see in the photo above, Chrissy Teigen used a Nomadic throw for her appearance in the 2013 SI Swimsuit Issue. Kate Bock is also a Nomadic fan. SwimDaily caught up with Nicole to discuss the company, its reliance on ethics and more.
SwimDaily: Tell me about your company? When did it start? Have you always intended to start your own brand?
Nicole Gulotta: The proverbial lightbulb went off in 2009 while on vacation in Tulum. A lovely girl I met who was also in fashion said to me, "How do I just get like that?!" indicating my barefooted, kaftan'ed look. She was still feeling city'ish in her little black dress and told me that she simply didn't have time to look for the relaxed accoutrements that would instantly snap her into vacation mode.
SD: Have you always intended to start your own brand?
NG: I did! I had been a fashion and wardrobe stylist my whole career and a quite lucky world traveller, too so I knew I could assemble all the laid-back beach and vacation essentials people might need in just one place. Voila! Nomadic Thread Society. It was a fairly natural progression from styling although the business aspect of it all is quite daunting!
SD: What are your most popular items?
NG: The Sarong Towel (above) is a big favorite. And this season the Colombian Iraca Palm Hats (below) are selling out!
SD: What new products are you most excited for?
NG: The Peruvian Mantas being made in collaboration with the wonderful NGO, Awamaki, in Ollantaytambo, Peru. I just came back from visiting the village where a small group of weavers are producing these beautiful throws from start to finish. They spin the wool into yarn, dye it with natural dyes, and hand weave it into an elegant and eclectic finished throw. Now that's sustainable, fair trade, ecological - and they will hopefully make some customers in the States very happy!
- Trying out Manta samples in Patacancha, Peru.
SD: I know you pay close attention to the fair trade and ethical manufacturing? Why is that so important to you? Do you find other companies share the same philosophy?
NG: It's important to me because I think consumerism needs to shift gears, taking a more conscientious way forward. We can't keep manufacturing and consuming on such a monstrous scale, and with so much waste and excess. But I do believe we will always want to have lovely things to decorate ourselves and our homes with. So, I am carefully studying all the ways I can make ethical decisions in building my business. I consider materials and methods used in manufacturing, the number of steps in a supply chain, the fair ness of wages paid to artisans and workers, the ethics of producers I work with, etc. As my business grows, I intend to switch to organic cotton, visit more producers' manufacturing facilities in person to become acquainted with their practices on a first hand basis, to support more artisan initiatives, etc. There are lots of smaller companies who align themselves with this thinking, and larger companies are certainly part of the conversation.. Patagonia for instance is a leader in responsible manufacturing and business practices, and a real inspiration.
SD: Has owning your own business been what you expected? What challenges have you faced?
NG: I've learned more than I could have ever imagined! So very many hats to wear: importing/shipping, web design, photography, marketing, admin, inventory management, bookkeeping, sales. Not to mention the sourcing and designing - and soon, HR, too. It's just me and a part time assistant, so it's a little intense! But I love it, and every time I go on a sourcing mission and am able to immerse myself in another culture.. I remind myself that I'm a lucky lady to be able to do this at all! When we're receiving 1000+ kilos of (late) goods in filthy boxes to a small storage space and 20 percent of the goods are the wrong color - that's not the fun part!
SD: How did you get the name Nomadic Thread Society?
NG: The brand started out as The Nomadic Trading Company, signifying of course the globally-sourced aspect of the goods. But after applying for and securing the trademark, I learned that there was an apparel company doing business in California with a too similar name. Ouch!
SD: Have you spotted any celebrities with Nomadic products?
NG: Kind of depends on the definition of celebrity. My dear friend Adam Freeland is a world class DJ and total styler who will be sporting my beach bits on holiday in Greece in just a few weeks! And Rachel Zoe did say she was obsessed with my sarong towels. This may be a bit cheeky but I have an inkling Oprah might like an item or two. And Mrs. Obama, too!
SD: Where would you like to see the company in 10 years?
NG: I think Net-a-Porter should buy it from me! Nomadic Thread Society is destined to be the go-to e-Bazaar for Global Chic Goods with a conscience. I would be thrilled to stay on and consult .. and maybe devote some time to making a documentary I have up my (kaftan) sleeve!