“In the midst of a global pandemic, joy is essential,” says Rochelle Porter, founder of Rochelle Porter, design for abundant living. Known for her signature colors and patterns, Porter shares, “I want people to look at my prints and get happy! Whether we realize it or not, bold bright colors spark joy and shift the mood instantly.”
Porter’s brand includes a size-inclusive range of women’s activewear, fabrics, home goods, and now face masks to accommodate changing coronavirus conditions. “Reusable cloth masks are in VERY high demand right now,” Porter says of her unique design. “Each signature print mask features a pocket for insertion of a disposable filter.”
In 2019, Porter was selected as one of few up-and-coming designers of color to join Harlem’s Fashion Row first-ever designer retreat at Nike’s New York City headquarters. While networking with the Nike executives, her immersive experience included exclusive sessions at Gap Headquarters, The Council of Fashion Designers of America, Essence Magazine Headquarters. “We were invited into legendary designer Dapper Dan’s atelier,” she says. “It was great to see the inner workings of organizations often closed to the public and meet other budding designers who have the potential to the ‘next big thing’ in fashion.”
A graduate of the 14-session intensive Start:ME ATL micro-accelerator program of Goizueta Business School of Emory University, Porter’s global customer base
continues to grow. Her unique textile designs earned her multiple pop-up shops in West Elm stores in Atlanta and on Broadway in New York. She is currently collaborating with a high-end brand in Nairobi, Kenya on a specialty activewear capsule collection featuring three exclusive, limited-edition prints. This summer, Roostery will feature her home décor line including curtains, tablecloths, napkins, and pillows. For the 2021 resort season, Porter will launch her premiere swimwear collection.
In addition to a growing lineup of activewear separates, Porter offers custom pattern design and consulting services to fashion, accessory, and interior design companies for which the brand collaborations result in exclusive prints.
Body Positivity and Beautiful Size Inclusivity Rule the Day
“Nothing infuriates me more than seeing an adult wearing pajamas in public,” Porter says. “I am a huge advocate of comfortable AND cute! Whether running errands, working out, or working from home, there’s no longer a need to sacrifice comfort for style.” The prints and patterns of Porter’s activewear elevate an outfit made of soft, durable fabric for all-day comfort. “You can still roll out of bed and slip on a matching crop top and leggings set,” she says, “but you will look pulled together.”
Unlike many women’s activewear brands that offer limited sizes, Porter’s brand is size inclusive from XS-6X. “Every woman, no matter where she is in her fitness journey, deserves to look and feel great in her clothes,” the designer notes. Though the fashion industry has made progress, “Some retailers still assume that larger women want to hide behind drab, solid colors. That’s not true at all. Women embrace their curves more than ever and aren’t afraid to stand out. I love that my clothes look great on women of all body types.”
A Brilliant Kaleidoscope of Color and Pattern
“Color changes mood,” she says. “I never actually imagined that I’d become a designer. I had no formal art training or design aspirations — only a compulsion to doodle on everything I could find,” she admits. “It was effortless and virtually unconscious. After a tough day at work (or during a 3-hour long meeting), I would pick up my pen and let my mind wander. Soon I had notebooks filled with elaborate line and curves. Drawing was cathartic,” she says of the habit. “Later, I realized my ‘little doodles’ could adorn a variety of products sold all over the world.”
Influenced by Finnish clothing and home décor house Marimekko, Porter also embraces the designs of Maori moko, the traditional tattoos of indigenous New Zealanders. Porter also draws inspiration from her Caribbean roots and Guyanese heritage. Her current work has been compared to the Ankara wax print fabrics of West Africa.
When a new design comes to life, “I rarely think about these influences when I’m creating, but they are so ingrained in me that they can’t help but come out through my work.” Porter is absolutely clear about one thing. “Joy is a cornerstone of my brand.”
Rochelle Porter Design prioritizes fair pay, environmentally safe manufacturing, and the use of allergy-free organic and recycled materials whenever possible. Follow Rochelle Porter on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.
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