Dressed for success
We visited the gorgeous shop which is in her home in Glenvista and we were wowed by the exquisite range of clothing and accessories.
Nicoline (42) was always interested in sewing and was creative from an early age, but, after matriculating and then graduating from UJ with a B Comm in law, she went to work for Old Mutual. “It seemed a good idea then and my creative flair was directed towards designing and making my own suits to wear to the office. I felt very special knowing I’d created something I could wear and my colleagues often admired my clothing.”
Although she enjoyed her job she wasn’t fulfilled and her husband, Michael, who owns Quebec Trading, a construction company, asked her to join him in his business, where she worked until a chance meeting made her realise her heart was really set on doing something in the creative field. I’d heard about a coffee shop at the end of the week and beginning another business venture. We got chatting and realised we both had the very same interests in clothing and Marlene was about to open Bella Roma, where she’d design and make elegant clothing. Her designs were beautiful, just my style, and I became one of her clients and I expressed my desire to design children’s clothes, especially girls’ dresses, as I could never find pretty dresses for our daughter, Julia. I was still working with Michael, though, so the dress designing became a pipe dream,” she said.
A few years after she’d met Marlene, Michael’s construction business became very quiet and when Nicolene saw Marlene again she said she was going to move overseas and would be selling her business, which was now called Tres Jolie. “I immediately made the decision to buy it and, before I knew it, I was the proud owner of a brilliant clothing line. Fortunately for me, Marlene’s two seamstresses, Mamie Foto and Pepetua Makengo, came to work with me, and I hired two shop assistants, Mariaan and Winne.
“I opened in August 2016, with only two lines for winter and a few for spring. At first it was a little bit of a guessing game, how many clothes to make and how many would sell. It was definitely a learning curve, and I did realise I’d too much winter stock as spring approached. A few months down the road I’m far more confident and my clothing lines are becoming popular with both younger and more mature women.”
She stocks comfortable but smart clothing, which can take you from the office through to the evening with an extra accessory or two. “I use a lot of stretch fabrics, which are extremely comfortable, and I love the soft pastel colours as well as cream and white. Prints are so ‘in’ at the moment and, believe me, a dress in a print stretch fabric can hide a multitude of sins,” she laughed.
Nicoline’s Bengaline fabric trousers have barely been finished before they fly off the shelves. “I’m very grateful to Mamie and Pepetua, who are a big part of my business and very knowledgeable seamstresses. Women adore these trousers for their comfort and style and they cling in just the right places. The palazzo trousers are also a hit this season, with orders coming in now for the holidays.”
The cherry on the top for Niolene was when she was contacted by actress Philicity Reeken, from the TV dating show Binnekring, who asked her to design outfits for her for 13 episodes of the show. “I feel so honoured she chose my designs and it’s a huge boost for Tres Jolie.”
Being a successful businesswoman, having a husband with his own business and an 11-year-old daughter to take care of, too, she is certainly kept on her toes and we wondered how she finds time to fit other things into her busy life. “I have to confess, I’m not a domestic goddess at all! I hardly ever cook, just occasionally, then I try and do something really nice, but we eat out at least four times a week at local restaurants. This saves me lots of time from cooking, not to mention the cleaning up afterwards.
“We have a holiday cottage in Clarens and it’s our absolute favourite place to go and unwind. I even prefer it to a seaside holiday. We try and go at least once a month and we take along our pets, too. Socks our cat, our miniature French Poodle, Shaggy and Mellow the African Grey, who all travel with us in our car! We must look quite a sight as we hit the highway. Here we can relax, walk, read and enjoy each other’s company and we return feeling well rested and ready to face another hectic week.”
Would she have it any other way? “Absolutely not, I feel content, happy and fulfilled and excited to be doing something I really love. Then to finish each day with Michael and Julia by my side is everything I could wish for.”
Text: Julie Maule, photo: Justine Mac and make-up: Carmen Collectd