When it comes to Emilie Nolan, life really does imitate art. Splitting her time between New Jersey, Toronto, and Kingston, the Queen’s University drama student is a go-getter in the true sense of the word, having recently earned status as a street style star with the success of her personal fashion blog, Emilie Etc. The name couldn’t be more fitting, considering how much Nolan has achieved so early on in her career—a career that isn’t exactly confined to one position. Her professional life seems to encompass a never-ending list of titles, ranging from blogger to photographer and now designer—Emilie Etc. can do it all; and she does it all her way.
This past year has been the year of “et ceteras” for Nolan. Despite her impeccable taste, and the kind of cool-girl appeal that’s reserved for fashion bloggers only (see: her Instagram account), the self-described “androgynous hood-rat” only recently discovered the world of blogging, getting her start at none other than MUSE Magazine online. “I was asked to write a style blog for MUSE online, called “The Look.” After I did one or two posts with MUSE, it sort of just clicked that I should have my own blog.” And in true Emilie fashion, she “went for it!” creating Emilie Etc.: a clean, minimalistic website boasting designer duds from chic New Jersey boutiques, photography, drool-worthy eats, and the quirky ramblings of Emilie herself. In short, the blog is 100% Emilie, and that’s exactly how all of her work is. “Anyone who knows me knows that whatever I put out there, no matter what it is, it’s gotta be 100% me,” says Nolan. “Part of me is being a perfectionist.”
It’s not surprising that Nolan upheld the same mantra when planning her next ambitious move: designing t-shirts with her roommate-turned-business-partner, Jennifer Langill. The label, called “Etc. by Emilie.,” features men’s, women’s and unisex graphic t-shirts. The line is 100% cotton and Canadian made, manufactured in Toronto at Redwood Apparel (the same company that does knitwear for Roots) because, as Nolan assures me, “I wouldn’t have been proud of something that fell apart after two washes.”
The classic white tees are right on trend, adorned with witty logos such as “Rogue,” and “Laundry Day,” and Nolan’s own graphic designs – her favourite being a stencil-esque geometric deer. “I like drawing, I like imagining things…I’ve always envisioned having my own business. It kind of happened just as the blog happened,” says Nolan of her transition from blogger to designer. “My ideas seem to come to me very spur of the moment, and I tend to jump on them with the same spontaneity.”
But Nolan doesn’t let her bold, “go-for it” attitude overshadow her business sensibilities, and she’s managed to find the balance between being business-savvy and staying true to her own fashion senses. “We’re testing the market right now, and the t-shirt was an easy springboard for us,” she says, explaining her choice to start her design endeavor with something as basic as a t-shirt. “The t-shirt is such an accessible and everyday piece. You always need a t-shirt in your wardrobe; they’re always going to be in style. I want whoever is wearing it to be passionate about their personal style. It’s all about the individual.”
In an impressive feat, Nolan has successfully added the titles of “fashion blogger,” “designer” and “entrepreneur” to her resume in just under a year, and she’s done it all on her own terms. Like most things that Nolan puts her mind to, she’s made this transition look easy— but that isn’t necessarily the case. “It is scary,” she says of being a young businesswoman, and a self-starter. “Dealing with manufacturers and dealing with other people – at first, I don’t think they took us seriously, because we are so young. When I was cold calling manufacturers and label makers, it took them a minute to be like, “okay, this girl is serious.”
And serious she is. Emilie Etc. is showing no signs of slowing down. Instead, it’s full speed ahead. “Since I’ve started this project, everything I look at, I’m looking for a t-shirt idea. Next round, we’re going to play on some designers, and do a little word play,” Nolan explains, pulling out a sketch of one of her recent designs. “We want to come out with more product, too, like toques and maybe some canvas shopping bags. I think the biggest step is seeing if we can get our product stocked. The goal is Toronto, Montreal, and the area of New Jersey that I grew up in.”
Listening to Nolan’s future plans is almost overwhelming; the list seems endless, and dare I say nearly impossible, until I remember who it is that I’m talking to. Nolan is difficult to describe, but it’s impossible to overlook her poise and sense of self-awareness. She’s unapologetic, true to herself and to her vision—and she wouldn’t have it any other way. As if right on cue, Nolan smiles, her cool demeanor suddenly upbeat: “Onward, and upward!” she chimes in. Somehow, I can’t see her heading in any other direction.
To shop Emilie’s tees, visit www.emilieetc.com, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org for special delivery options in Kingston.
Abi Conners, Online Editor
Photography: Emilie Nolan