Mary’s deep love for the styles of the 60s and 70s and her obsession with all things vintage are the main inspirations behind each of her collections. The sweet Novella Royale family allowed me to take a look into their creative space, and let me just tell you it was absolutely amazing! It truly was a vintage dream with retro couches, mirrors, and rugs, one of a kind hanging lights, and vintage fabrics laying all over the place. It is the perfect office studio to relax and get creative in. Mary is one inspiring babe and had all sorts of fun advice to share with all us Novella Royale lovers…
LEAH: We know the line is named after your daughter, what initially inspired you to start your own clothing company?
MARY: I’ve always thought I’d start my own brand, it just took having my daughter Novella and walking away from my full time job designing to start NR. I also started it right at the downfall of the economy, I came from a company where everything was made overseas so that was the path I was taking NR on. During sampling my eyes were really opened to our market being so over saturated with mass production and fast fashion. I wanted to make something different. The US used to be such a great resource for manufacturing so I decided as hard and expensive as it would be I wanted to be a part of bringing manufacturing jobs back to the US.
LEAH: Did you go to school for apparel design or did you teach yourself?
MARY: My mother was my school! I did go to college part time at night for 4 years, and mostly took fun classes like art history, painting, and photography classes, but my mother taught me how to sew when I was very little. My mom and dad always encouraged me to be my own person no matter what people say to me. They instilled a good almost neurotic work ethic in me, but always gave me the freedom to express myself through art.
LEAH: Tell us about your prints and designs…
MARY: I’m very passionate about prints, obviously! I am very inspired by the idea of the 60′s and 70′s – the idea that fashion was a revolution and very exciting for the time. I would have loved to feel the excitement of that time in fashion. When designing I try and put myself somewhere in my mind where I feel no one else will be and come up with a girl and what she is feeling or going through. Then I design around her paired what I want in my closet next season:)
LEAH: What type of girl do you see wearing your designs?
MARY: Although we have a specific NR girl that comes out in our designs each season I really hope there is not one type of NR girl. Social media right now is great for being able to see so many different girls wear NR and in different ways. It’s such a good resource for being in touch with our customers!
LEAH: What sets your clothing apart from other companies out there?
MARY: When designing I really try and focus on what I want and what the evolution from season to season for us is. I don’t follow the collections, and do not pay attention to what everyone else is doing. It comes from inside – where it should come from.
LEAH: Walk us into your closet… What are your favorite pieces?
MARY: I have an embarrassing amount of bells in my closet, it’s a problem. NR definitely dominates my closet because I design for myself, isn’t that the point! I collect vintage. If it’s old and special I’m in even if I’ll never wear it. Vintage garments really are art. Things just aren’t made the same anymore and I am very inspired by that, trying to achieve that special feeling in a garment. I’m a creature of habit so I only have a few brands of denim I wear in every color and more vintage tees than I have days to wear them…
LEAH: When you’re not designing, what could we find you doing?
MARY: Running, around with my kids, gardening. Growing your own food is such a powerful thing and I’m very passionate about it. I love doing home improvements. Anytime I can swing a hammer count me in. Again something I have gotten from my mom and dad. They are of the belief that if anyone can do it, so can I. I was just recently encouraged by a friend to start shooting on film again, an old hobby of mine from when I was younger. I’m very excited by it. It’s bringing me back to a mind set I had when I was younger. It’s very inspiring.
LEAH: How do you feel when you see your designs in public?
MARY: How any designer would feel, amazing! That’s just the best!!!
LEAH: Tell us your favorite Novella Royale pieces available at SWELL… And where you would rock each of them…
MARY: The Siren Dress is one of my favorite pieces from our fall collection – it’s such a special dress. I wore it to the water and ball this year, but would also wear it with boots and a sweater for a date!
Also the Venus Vest. Black leather and fringe are 2 of my favorite design elements. And it’s reversible!!!! I’ve worn it with our Hyperion to parties and with a vintage tee and jeans just about everywhere!!!
LEAH: What are you most excited about when thinking about the future of Novella Royale?
MARY: A retail space! It’s really exciting and I cannot wait! It’s something I see as our long term future, it won’t happen till 2015, but already have a ton of exciting ideas for NR product in store… Also cannot wait to be able to expand NR a bit and create more jobs for the people I love or people who need jobs!
LEAH: Walk us through your home designs… We’ve hear you’ve got quite the designer’s home….
MARY: Thanks! Our home was built in 1969 and was designed by an architect named Chris Abel. The first moment I walked in I knew it was our home, I became very protective of it thru the buying process. It has floor to ceiling windows and it’s very lofty, feeling like your outside when your inside is very important to me so this house is perfect, it’s like living in a tree house. Most everything in our house is either thrifted, vintage, designed by me and custom made, or made or refurbished myself. It’s really a collection of many different things. One of my favorite things in the house is this beautiful crystal chandelier my mom found on the side of the road… I don’t spend a lot of money on home furnishings!
LEAH: Favorite peaceful spot for you to design and explore new ideas for Novella Royale…
MARY: NRHQ! I’ve dreamed of having a work space of my own and I’ve really tried to make NRHQ an inspired work space. Our front room has the best morning light so I’ll usually spend time there drinking coffee on the couch and meditate a bit before I start my work day.
LEAH: What’s in the closet of little Novella Royale? Do you make some of her stylish clothing?
MARY: I do make her clothes! She gets a new birthday dress every year and its always a mini version of an NR dress I have. I’ve just started to teach her to sew and she loves to design and have me make her clothes! She has a ton of vintage as well and is very headstrong about what she wants to wear. We share the same birthday, it’s crazy how similar we are!
LEAH: Describe your dream family vacation… Where would you go and what would you do?
MARY: I love island life, I want to explore more islands, Turks and Caicos, Italy, Spain and I’m dying to go to Morocco!!! My kids love to travel and really want to go to Egypt so when they get older I’ll take them there!
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