BET.com's THE GLAM GAP is a weekly video series spotlighting Black female entrepreneurs and influencers in the beauty, fashion and lifestyle space.
Even if you’re not familiar with her name, chances are you’ve seen Nichole Lynel’s work on social media or replicated by fast fashion brands. “I feel like the way that I have been able to set myself apart is by telling a story,” Lynel told BET.com from the comfort of her Los Angeles apartment where the fashion entrepreneur is currently social distancing. “People don't just buy items, people buy stories. So I give the girls a show. I give them what they want.”
It’s that passion and deep knowledge of her audience that continues to set Lynel’s eponymous clothing brand apart from others, generating $1 million in revenue just in the first few months, and continuing to grow rapidly. “I feel like as a Black woman talking about money can be so uncomfortable for many of us,” she reveals. “And I found that in this industry it's perfectly fine when we're shouting about our success, but nobody really tells you how to get there. So for me, I love to set goals and my goal, my first year was to sell $1 million. But what does that look like?I said, okay, ‘To sell $1 million roughly, I need to sell at least $3,333 a day.’”
And Lynel did just that. She grew her less than a year old fashion brand — founded in June 2019 — into a clothing powerhouse that includes ready-to-wear and custom pieces beloved by celebrities and everyday women alike. Ranging anywhere from $50 to $250, her looks being seen on Lauren London, Sarah Jakes Roberts, and Bozoma Saint John, are marked by simplistic glam that doesn’t break the bank.
“The Nichole Lynel muse is the glamorous girl on the go,” the designer shares. “She is the girl who is working her nine to five and needs that perfect outfit after work for cocktails with the girls. She may be a mom, looking for a way to look stylish and effortless and without completely blowing her budget.”
But it’s the social media presence of Lynel — the designer has become an influencer in her own right, boasting more than 300K followers — that makes the brand even more personal. You’ll notice that it’s not models wearing the clothing on her brand’s page, but Lynel herself, something that happened completely by accident. “My first few photo shoots models didn't show up. I realized that in telling my story people really fell in love with what I was doing and who I was as a person and what I represented. I can get any model at this point, but nothing sells like me because in this age people really love authentic stories and they love to see what they’re actually going to look like in the clothes. I have curves like real women.”
Lynel recently published her first book in early February, the memoir My Fashion Fairytale, in which she speaks not only about her road to entrepreneurship, but also her personal triumphs, which include overcoming a turbulent relationship with her mother.
“I have a mother who battles addiction,” Lynel confides. “That's something that no one ever talked about in my family and I didn't read any books about it for people who look like me until maybe I got older. I really wanted women to have something to see that this story is the fairytale and it can involve us Brown girls. I know when I was growing up princesses and the fairytales never had anybody who looked like me.”
And while the fairytale continues to evolve, as a small business, Nichole Lynel has felt the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on her endeavors. But Lynel, along with her team of six, are determined to power through.
“I felt it before it ever got to the United States, and especially before it hit in Los Angeles,” Lynel says. “I started feeling the effects in about December when my production started being canceled, and many items weren’t making it on time. So I went extra hard in January, February, I knew that I had to hit those tour stops for my book launch.”
But the Nichole Lynel fans and buyers are still racking up on her one-of-a-kind pieces, and readying their wardrobes for post-pandemic life.
“My girls are still shopping with me because they know we're going to come out of this and they know they need great clothes,” Lynel says. “I mean, come on. Can you imagine what the first brunch when this is all over is going to be like? The girls are going to be stepping out.”
(Photo courtesy of Nichole Lynel)
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