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Community Highlights: Meet Jen Long of Noble

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jen Long.

Hi Jen, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
I started Noble as a way to address the growing concerns of sustainability in fashion and the harmful effects that this industry has on farmers, the environment, and ultimately the end consumer. This challenge is far greater than just one company can tackle, so I focused our efforts where we could have the most profound impact: babies.

The organic food movement has done a fantastic job of raising awareness about the harmful effects of pesticides and chemicals used to produce the food we eat. These same practices are done to grow the cotton that we put on our baby’s fair skin. I made it my goal to raise awareness about this issue and to make baby clothing that was not only sustainable but fashionable and functional.

Ever since we launched Noble, our #1 comment from moms has been “I want that in my size”. We were shy to make our kid’s styles in women’s sizes but finally tested it a year ago with tremendous success. Since then, we have not been able to ignore the interest in women’s styles from Noble. Today’s Noble has evolved and matured as a lifestyle brand to include styles for women that hold the same values we set forth for our baby line: sustainable, fashionable, and functional.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I don’t think building a brand is ever a smooth road. We’ve definitely had our fair share of struggles. When I started the business seven years ago, “sustainability” was not a buzz word and explaining what organic cotton was and why you should pay more for it felt nearly impossible. Once we figured out how to tell our story with success, financing our business became a huge problem that snuck up on us.

We’re completely self-funded and that has always been our biggest challenge as a fast-growing small business. I thought investing 25K of my own money was all I would need, but I quickly found myself racking up quite a bit of credit card debt in inventory-heavy seasons. I went to bank after bank to show them our growth chart and projections and were turned down by everyone. Most of the banks did not understand online business and said the best they could offer me was a line of credit. Thankfully, I found Accion in San Diego that was able to offer us a great loan to support our growth plan and eventually worked up the courage to ask for small loans from a bunch of friends and family to help eliminate all of our high-interest debt and instead use those savings for inventory that we can profit on.

Other than the financing piece, every day presents a new set of problems to solve that I might never predict. I mean, who would have dreamed up a worldwide pandemic?! Each challenge makes our team stronger and I’m really grateful for their resilience.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
Noble focuses on making products that are sustainable, fashionable, and functional for women & kids. All of our clothing is made in Peru from seed to stitch. We are best known for our 100% GOTS certified Pima cotton utility suits & waffles pajamas. Our customers are mostly busy moms and the Utility Suit is a piece that fits her lifestyle. It’s an instant cool mom outfit that is also super comfortable, durable, with pockets that always come in handy as a parent. Our waffle jammies provide the perfect base layer and double as cute PJ’s that are buttery soft, hold up to the wash, and keep you and your babe the perfect amount of warm without overheating. I have loved to see how these simple and basic pieces have become staples in our customers’ closets.

How do you think about happiness?
My family, friends & Noble team make me incredibly happy. Gratitude plays a huge part in my happiness and when I think about all the people I get to spend my days around, I feel grateful. My 3-year-old Sofia makes me especially happy. If I have a rough day with work, spending time with her puts everything into perspective and makes me smile.

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Image Credits
Photography: Rachel Castillero

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