by Chelsey Lucas
Photography by Alex Stafford
Nadine Noky, Founder, Lady Brigade
Venice resident Nadine NOKY, a former radar technician who served in the U.S. Army from 2002-2007, lamented over the lack of chic apparel options for female veterans when she returned from her tour in Iraq. So Noky, 30, founded Lady Brigade, a clothing line dedicated to letting women veterans and service members wear their military pride in style.
Noky released her first design, “Any girl can wear heels but it takes a woman to wear combat boots,” on her Etsy shop in March 2014 and sold all 20 shirts at about $25 each almost instantly. After the social website Buzzfeed featured Lady Brigade in February, she had to scramble to keep up with the demand. (Totes are $12 and hoodies are $40.) What started as a hobby has almost become a second full-time job, says Noky, who works full-time as a designer for the Sarasota international packaging company MyUs.com.
From finding U.S.A.-made shirts to building a website and her brand, Noky referenced start-up podcasts and books to launch her business. Now she’s ready to start looking for a business partner. She also plans to purchase a building on Venice Avenue and open a storefront by fall 2016 so she can expand her product line. (Visit GoFundMe.com/LadyBrigadeHQ to help.)
“People always say write [your business plan] first, but I wouldn’t have learned what I know about my business [that way]. Take action,” she says. “Do something every day that brings you closer to what you want to do.”