Atlanta Designer Rochelle Porter Proves Style Can Be Sustainable
Rochelle Porter was nearly 15 years into a corporate career when signs started pointing her in a different direction. First there was a cryptic comment from a total stranger about following a forgotten passion and then a random remark from a Delta Air Lines agent that her name "sounded like a fashion label." There was just one problem: Porter, a closet creative who had spent her downtime doodling patterns for as long as she could remember, had given up on her fleeting fashion dreams years before. "I loved style but believed at the time that to manufacture anything meant contributing to pollution and unethical labor practices, and I didn't want to support that," she says.
But Porter isn't one to ignore signs. So she started researching and soon found out it was possible to manufacture responsibly, affordably, and not too far away from her own front door. She also discovered a potential void in the sustainable style industry. "Most of what I saw was kind of granola—there weren't a lot of colors or patterns," she says.
So Porter picked up a paintbrush and began sketching. She dreamed up patterns starring whimsical watercolors, tropical flora, and bold geometrics and then commissioned them into a set of throw pillows she sold online. "It was really marketed only to people in my network, but they seemed to like it, so I kept going," Porter says.
Today, her eponymous design label (rochelleporter.com) offers everything from pillows and wallpaper to activewear for adults and kids. She even has a line with West Elm. Her prints, all hand drawn and translated directly from her artwork, often take inspiration from her global travels and Guyanese roots. "I'm obsessed with color," she says. "Certain shades can make you instantly happy."
True to her values, every piece in her collection is thoughtfully made, with decor items produced right here in the South using eco-friendly materials and fashion products made to order to eliminate waste. "Sustainability is multipronged, but we always include some aspect of it," she says.
But Porter's brand of green is anything but granola. On the contrary, the tagline she bestowed upon her brand reads "Design for Abundant Living." She says, "People think of abundance as wealth, but I believe it applies to all parts of your life, whether it's joy, wellness, or relationships. I want everybody who encounters my products to experience some aspect of abundance in their lives."