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Saint Mary’s alumna launches athleisure line

| Friday, March 12, 2021

The summer before her senior year, Julia Veome (’19) launched Natural Baller, an all-natural and organic skincare line, and has been working to expand ever since. The LaGrange Park, Illinois native’s latest project to transform Natural Baller into a “feel-good lifestyle brand” is the launch of an athleisure line.

The line is set to hit the market March 15, but has been in development since the summer of 2019.

Veome wanted to positively impact people throughout their day, not just their morning and evening routine, she said.

“I felt that a clothing line was a natural next step,” she said. “In the morning when you get up you wash your face then you get dressed. Your clothes are an extension of your skin, so you want them to feel good.”

Following her graduation, Veome knew she wanted to pursue a Natural Baller clothing line, but didn’t know how to take the next steps. It was while splitting her time between Chicago and New York that she felt inspired to pursue this idea.

Courtesy of Julia Veome
Veome, a Saint Mary’s alumna is launching an eco-friendly athleisure line, an extension of her skin-care brand “Natural Baller.”

“Originally I had the idea to partner with an existing clothing line and create a Natural Baller capsule collection,” she said. “I wanted to do that because I was ‘cheating the system’ or skipping some steps because I wouldn’t have had to find my connections to fabric mills or distribution centers — so that’s what really made me lean toward that route and I liked the idea of having someone showing me the ropes in that industry.”

While in New York, Veome had the opportunity to meet with a national clothing brand and pitch her idea. After a successful meeting she felt like the epitome of a girl boss, she said. But the next day when they began to talk specifics and contracting, Veome realized the collaboration would come at the cost of her creative freedom.

“I had a a few nonnegotiables that I just wouldn’t sacrifice — like being eco-friendly and made in the USA, but not many big brands do that,” she said.

That’s when she decided to start from scratch with her own line.

In October of 2019, Veome partnered with a company in New Jersey that could serve as a middleman and help turn her ideas and drawings into tech packs.

“We sourced tons of fabrics,” she said. “I wanted everything to be insanely comfortable and soft [and] I wanted these pieces to be like my favorite things in my closest — eco-friendly but comfortable products.”

At this point Veome and her team were planning for and anticipating a July 2020 launch. But the pandemic had other plans.

“Come March, factories temporarily shut down and everything came to a complete halt,” she said. “I did not know when the launch could be rescheduled.”

Veome explained that when the factories did reopen, many were not working on old projects and instead focused efforts on personal protective equipment.

“I was starting to feel like I put in all this work and it wasn’t going to work out,” she said. With the support of her father, she pushed forward.

“I started working with a boutique marketing firm to revive and create digital strategy on the Natural Baller website and emphasize a lot of the feel good life style aspects of the brand, and emphasized our motto of ‘Live Life with No Filter.’”

Veome wanted the clothes to be in the brand’s original colors.

“It took forever to get the same Natural Baller pink for the different pieces due to the way fabrics hold color differently,” she said.

Unlike other major clothing distributors, Natural Baller is making all feel-good, guilt-free products made in the USA, Veome said.

“I’m not a Nike,” she said. “I know the people making the clothes, and I’ve been involved in every step of the process.”

The two slogans of the line are “loungewear that lives beyond the couch” and “activewear that moves with you.”

The activewear and loungewear line sets itself apart from competitors because it is feminine and cute, Veome said.

“Everyone’s wearing loungewear now, all the trends for 2021 are all casual because nobody’s anticipating that we’re going to be getting super dressed up this year,” Veome said. “And everyone’s filled their closets with sweatsets that are very lazy because everyone wants to be comfortable, but a lot of the loungewear that’s out there right now diminishes your productivity.”

Driven by her passion to maintain an eco-friendly brand, everything in the clothing line is made from recycled and sustainable material such as water bottles and bamboo fibers.

“I spent so much time just walking through Nordstrom looking at different hangtags and brainstorming the specific wording and attachment of my hangtags,” Veome said. “I seriously put so much thought into every little detail, which I think is something that makes small businesses special. I’m the one doing the website, my family and I are the ones fulfilling orders. Every little detail has so much love and thought and effort put into it.”

By October 2020, Natural Baller had its final fit samples — months after the initial launch date. By February, Veome finally had all the inventory and could begin marketing for the March launch.

In preparation for the launch, Veome hosted a “lifestyle shoot” with her younger sister and some of her friends to model the clothing line.

“During the shoot, I had one of those ‘full circle surreal’ moments where I thought about how this was all a thought in my head when I was my sister Sam’s age at Saint Mary’s, and to have her and her friends in College wearing the clothes — it’s really cool to me because they loved the clothing and felt confident in it.”

At the end of the day, Veome’s goal for the athleisure line is to increase confidence in customers and be source of guilt free products that customers can rely on, she said.

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About Mia Marroquin

Mia Marroquin is a rising senior Communication Studies major at Saint Mary’s. Currently serving as Saint Mary’s News Editor, she hails from Holland, Michigan and is an 80’s movie fanatic. Follow Mia on Twitter @_miamarroquin

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