At 5 feet tall, Nicole Stephens may be small in stature, but she wants to lead the way with the new clothing line she designed specifically for petite women.
Stephens, a 2016 graduate of Louisiana State University with a bachelor’s degree in textile and design, is busily preparing to launch her business, Naya Petite.
A solopreneur who designs, makes patterns, cuts and sews the sample pieces in her Virginia Beach home, Stephens said she will hire seamstresses as her fledgling business grows and then look to a manufacturer in Bali.
Her dog, a black Labrador she found nine years ago, and her business share the name Naya, a Sanskrit word that means “to lead.”
“I was living with my grandparents and going to college so I snuck her in for two days,” Stephens said. “They told me I couldn’t keep her so I went out, worked three jobs, went to school full time and got an apartment.”
Stephens is tackling her new business — aimed to create a wardrobe for petite women, 5 feet 4 inches or under — with the same grit and determination.
“I want to help empower confidence in petite women, because I believe all women should feel empowered, beautiful and confident,” she said.
Originally from Baton Rouge, Louisiana — she holds a key to the city — Stephens relocated to Hampton Roads almost two years ago.
After a friend asked her to design her wedding gown, Stephens said she was inspired to create more.
“I decided to come out with a petite line because I saw that there was a need for trendy petite clothing that would actually last,” she said.
Stephens said she always found it difficult to find garments that fit her correctly.
“I constantly had to alter and tailor my clothes to myself,” she said. “There are not many petite lines out there.”
After doing her research and speaking with other women on the shorter side, Stephens learned they were experiencing the same frustration.
Tayler Patrice, a friend who stands 5 feet 3 inches tall and has modeled for Stephens, said finding bell bottom pants that fit her correctly has always been a struggle.
“I can never find the perfect fit; they’re either too long or too wide,” Patrice said. “This line will give women the opportunity to express their style. If you’re comfortable in your clothes it shows on the outside.”
“My main goal,” Stephens said, “was to not only create a clothing line that fit the petite stature very well, but also something that could be a timeless piece, classic with a trendy flair to it.”
The first part of the line consists of cotton linen dresses, shirts, pants and wrap skirts in neutrals and earthy tones.
“They’re comfortable, but also have a cute edge to them,” Stephens said. “I want to get a lot of staples out first so it’s something you can build on.”
Stephens said the made-to-order items will be available online at nayapetite.com and she hopes to get them into a store, too. The price tags start around $100.
“Right now I’m building an audience to let people know that there is going to be something coming out,” she said. “I want people to let me know what their favorite looks are and what color scheme they think would be great with this type of style I’ve created.”
Stephens isn’t quite a newbie to the world of business. For the past four years she has had a bracelet line, Naya Dava (“fire” in Sanskrit) that is currently sold in nine stores in the U.S., including Kitsch in Norfolk and Glow Apothecary in Virginia Beach.
The diffuser bracelets feature a lava rock with essential oils.
“The heat from your skin heats the lava rock up and creates a lasting aroma,” she said.
As she moves along with her latest endeavor, Stephens said she is excited to express her creativity and help women gain their confidence through her vision.
Sandra J. Pennecke, 757-222-5356, [email protected]
©2020 The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Va.)
Visit The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Va.) at pilotonline.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.