WATERLOO — Shanté Wallican-Nesbit always loved looking fashionable. But she didn’t think about fashion as a career until high school.
“When it was time for me to go to homecoming, I would go to the mall, not really seeing anything I wanted to buy,” she said.
Her mother sewed, and Wallican-Nesbit asked if she’d make her a dress.
“She would say, ‘What do you want?’, and she would throw something together for me,” Wallican-Nesbit said. “It was always really cute.”
That lit a fire under the Waterloo woman to go into the fashion industry.
After studying textiles and apparel under professor Annette Lynch at the University of Northern Iowa, then at the Savannah College of Design in Savannah, Georgia, and finally at the Universite de Lyon in Lyon, France, Wallican-Nesbit has spent time in merchandising at Target Corp., designed photo shoots for Nordstrom and styled celebrity clients for Taylor-Ector Studios in Atlanta.
Now back in Waterloo, Wallican-Nesbit wanted to start her own clothing line and open up a boutique.
“It’s just something I always wanted to do, but I was trying to figure out the ‘hows’ of it all,” she said.
So she started researching boutiques, talking with friends and fellow business owners, and last weekend organized several local creative professionals for a photo shoot featuring items from her Luxe Life clothing and accessories line.
Even as the global coronavirus pandemic has slowed or entirely stopped many new businesses from getting off the ground, Wallican-Nesbit is launching the website for Luxe Life on July 31, “come hell or high water,” she said.
“Everybody’s fussing at me like, ‘Girl, what took you so long?’” Wallican-Nesbit said.
Luxe Life began with swimwear and other pieces Wallican-Nesbit called a lifestyle brand for “the traveling fashionista.”
“I would get excited and post stuff on Facebook, and people would say, ‘How much?’ That’s kind of how it started,” she said.
Swim suits now accompany items like sunglasses, hats, earrings and party dresses. More casual, everyday items will also be part of the lineup in the future, and Wallican-Nesbit doesn’t see a limit on the Luxe Life — even talking about getting into the travel business alongside retail.
“When I first started to study fashion, the industry was based in France — I learned French and studied over there. Now it’s in China — that’s the center of everything,” she said. “It would be really nice to host some type of shopping or sourcing trip.”
And she’s trying to bring up the younger generation interested in the world of fashion, with videos on her YouTube page documenting her own experience in the industry.