What do cool California fashion and dogs have in common? Quite a lot, in fact! Jennifer D’Angelo, the creator of the fun & quirky line called Nooworks, knows this firsthand. After all, she named the company after her dog, Noo Noo.
Read my interview with Jennifer.
ModCloth: Can you tell us a little about Noo Noo?
Jennifer: Oh, the Noo Noo. Well she’s the sweetest thing I’ve ever encountered. Let’s see- it was eleven years ago on Easter Sunday that I first met Noo Noo. My roommates and I were getting ready to have an Easter rager here in San Francisco. We’d hung our Easter bunny piÃ±ata in the yard, made snacks and had just finished the enormous vat of sangria when Chris decided to run to the store and get some ice.
I heard the door creak open but not shut, then just loads of ooh’s and ahh’s and then suddenly a little white dog ran down the hall toward me! Cutest little fuzzy bunny/Easter puppy Westie I’d ever laid eyes on. We went outside and there was no owner to be found! We called Animal Control, the ASPCA, and put up signs around the neighborhood.
That day we had our Easter rager, and Noo Noo was a hit! I wasn’t ready to be responsible for a puppy, but nobody ever claimed her and she was too cute to pass up. Six months later, we were in the driveway washing my car when this older woman from up the street started walking towards Noo Noo saying “Money, Money, Money! Come here Money!” I thought, Well this woman is totally insane. But it turned out she was Noobert’s original owner! Before our life together, Noo Noo was named “Money” and she lived in the garage four doors down with a Rottweiler. The women said Noo Noo kept running away, they saw our signs but figured they would just let us keep her. Strange, I thought, but I was way too attached at this point to let her go.
Ever since then, we’ve been inseparable. My 14lb. friend talks me into going to the park or the beach every day, she sleeps in my arms at night and she even carried my wedding rings down the aisle for us last month. When I asked my then-fiance’ if it would be weird to have Noo Noo at the wedding, he said he wouldn’t marry me without her.
[Newlyweds! Jennifer and her hubby, Phil. (Noo Noo carried their rings down the aisle.)]
Nooworks is named after Noo Noo because the first t-shirt printed was an illustration done by a friend who was also obsessed with her. Noo Noo was our main inspiration to cutify everything. And, after winning cutest dog contest in the local paper, she is definitely a celebrity.
Now you know about the Noo Noo.
MC: I read that Nooworks is very eco-friendly- using organic cotton tees and making everything here in the USA. How & why did you decide to do this?
Jennifer: The choice to be eco-friendly was easy; and living in San Francisco, where the city’s so set up to be green, it just becomes part of your life. I also went to California College of Art and Crafts for industrial design where I really learned the importance of process. If you design for a larger company, you are really only involved with a few aspects of the piece- maybe you draw it or sew the sample and send that to someone else who handles the manufacturing, but you’re usually not involved in details like sourcing buttons.
When I create a garment, I’m involved in everything from concept to fabric sourcing to double checking patterns with the factory to finding the right people to make my ruffles pretty to putting it on the delivery truck. When you’re so involved, you want it to be local- you want to work with nice people and you want to support them by bringing them business.
Last month, I picked up 200 yards of sheered fabric for dresses from a local vendor. The guys loaded it into my car and when I asked for an invoice, they said don’t worry & have a great wedding. Who is that nice!?!?! When you’re faxing in specs to a factory on the other side of the planet to someone that you have no face to attach to, that doesn’t happen.
MC: Did you always know you wanted to own your own clothing company?
Jennifer: No. Honestly I had fashion plates as a kid and that’s about as far as it went for couture. But I have always loved design and figuring out how things work. Taking a concept and figuring out how to turn it into a product is super exciting for me.
When I went to design school, it ended up being a lot of creating a beautifully shaped injection molded piece of plastic that did something to fill a void in some imaginary person’s life. I found it a bit depressing and decided I wanted to design things that made me happy. Simple things, like purses lined with zombie fabric with shoulder straps to take on my bicycle and dresses that had straps in just the right places to cover my bra, are simple pleasures. And the beauty of it is that there are many people like me looking for the same simple pleasures.
MC: I also read about the artists who designed different tees and dresses for the fall line. Do you work with different artists each season, or how does that process work?
Jennifer: I work with whoever is fun and wants to be a part of Nooworks. Diego Mannino and I went to art school together and when he offered to do drawing I was psyched!!! Last season my friend Jay Howell offered so I had them both for the summer line, it’s so great!
Basically I’ll be scheming on a theme for a few months then when it’s concrete, I’ll call them up and say “I’m obsessed with JAWS! Sharks, vans and sixties summer surf movies can you make something like that?” then they draw their amazing interpretations and I incorporate them into the rest of the line. It makes it so fun and exciting to see how another artist will interpret things. They are the best!!!
MC: What is your personal style inspiration?
Jennifer: FUN! Anything that makes you laugh out loud or smile is the most inspiring.
MC: What was the inspiration for the Spring/Summer ’09 line?
Jennifer: JAWS! Sharks, vans and sixties summer surf movies.
MC: What’s next for Nooworks?
Jennifer: Well I’m having a launch party soon for the summer line. These cool guys are animating my catalog and my husband wrote the soundtrack, so we’ll be screening that and having a fashion show. The it’s time for Fall……I’m thinking outer space, but cuter.