This one is for all you prior service female spouses who know the struggle is real … the struggle to find something to wear showing you served, that is.
Nadine Noky, who left the Army in 2007 after a five year enlistment and a tour in Iraq, knows that. She hated the way men — other vets and civilians — would be shocked that she served. She hated that the only apparel for a proud female to vet to wear was ugly and manly, hokey and brazen or covered in glitter and rhinestones and meant for proud wives.
Instead, she was searching for something with a little more balance. “You don’t want to wear a shirt that says ‘veteran’ on it,” she told me, but you do want to identify yourself when appropriate and display your pride, especially to the skeptics who still don’t understand that, yes, many veterans are women.
“Even at the VA you still get another [male] veteran saying ‘you were in the military, huh?'” she said. “And you’re [sarcastically] like ‘no I just kind of ironically come to the VA and stand in line at the pharmacy, but I’m really not a veteran.'”
The problem of no veteran clothes just for women kept eating at her. And after another experience at the VA, she decided to pop into their store to see what they had.
“I was like ‘this is the last straw.’ I went to the VA for a doctor appointment and it was the same thing in their store — tan or black t-shirts or red white and blue shirts, and there was not a single one for women. And I was like ‘that’s enough!'” she told me.
Noky had used her GI Bill to get a a degree in graphic design. Armed with that know-how she decided last November to do something herself about the pride apparel problem and founded Lady Brigade.
The result? Near overnight success, thanks in part to having her story picked up by Buzzfeed. Between November and early February she filled about 150 orders. Since Buzzfeed published her story early last month she was filled an additional 600.
Noky doesn’t make gear specifically for women who weren’t in the military — although some of it doesn’t clearly claim that their wearer is a veteran. She says there is already a company doing a great job with that. Instead she focuses on the female vet market that, before her, didn’t have representation — although she has considered making some items just for male spouses.
All of Noky’s products are printed by her with supplies made in the USA, she said. She doesn’t want to outsource because she fears it would impact quality.
You can’t find any of her products in stores yet, although she is working with some military retailers like AAFES to get her gear in their stores.
There is nothing cooler than watching people live their dreams.
Interested in ordering a shirt? You can see her website here.