People You Should Know: Rochelle Porter - Rochelle Porter Design
Name: Rochelle Porter
Representing: Atlanta, GA
Company: Rochelle Porter Design
What Your Company Does: Sustainable decor + fashion design
Title: Owner + Designer
How did you get started designing home decor and fashion?
I’ve always loved art and design, but would never have considered myself a designer. I have no formal training in it, and didn't think I was anywhere near good enough. In the early 2000's, as an escape from my soul-sucking corporate job, I enrolled in a 3-day fashion design course at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. Day 1 was fine. On Day 2, the instructor told us that we'd mostly likely have to get our designs made in China. Immediately, I thought of sweatshops, exploited, underpaid workers, and environmental toxins. I didn’t even bother showing up for Day 3. I still loved fashion —I was just grieved about how it was produced. This experience completely put me off of the industry.
Around 2011, I discovered sweatshop-free brands did indeed exist. While I appreciated these brands’ regard for workers and the environment, I didn’t find them particularly stylish, beautiful, or interesting. Actually, I found most to be downright granola. At that moment, I had an epiphany of sorts: I could create products that were both beautiful and ethical. Once I made that decision, everything flowed from there.
Tell us about your process, What are the pros and cons of creating your own textiles and patterns?
All my patterns start out as hand drawings or paintings. Sometimes I'm very intentional and deliberate in how I want the final product to look; other times, I doodle randomly until I come
with something I think looks cool. I then scan the image, transform it into a repeating pattern in Adobe Photoshop and/or Illustrator, and manipulate the size, scale, and color of the pattern until I'm satisfied with it. I then send the digital file off to my fabric printer to have the pattern printed on (typically organic cotton) fabric.
The sheer joy of the creative process. It's live-giving, therapeutic, and fun. Before I ever considered pursuing art/design for a living, it was my primary form of self-care.
I have complete creative control of not only the aesthetic of the textile, but the type of fabric it's printed on.This means I can choose sustainable fabrics over synthetic ones.
The possibilities are literally endless. I could create a million patterns and no two would look alike.
My patterns give my products a unique look and feel so that they stand out from products that are mass produced and sold in big-box stores.
It's extremely difficult to copyright a pattern design, so it wouldn't be hard for another brand/manufacturer to create knock-offs of my prints.
Fabric printing is expensive (!!!), so it's difficult to compete with brands who use pre-made fabric, or produce via less ethical/sustainable means.
There are not enough hours in the day to execute every pattern design idea I have milling around in my head.
What are you working on that people should be excited about?
We're (finally!) launching an ethically-made women's clothing collection with Spring, and partnering with another company on an African-inspired fitness wear line.
What would you say has been your defining moment as an entrepreneur or creative?
Having my products featured in Essence magazine and essence.com
Where can people follow you, or your work on social media?