For this week’s N’East Illustrated post I have a special guest – Shawn Colley of Noble County Gold. My illustration for Shawn was the first commission I received for another blog and was one of the inspirations to start the N’East Illustrated series. NCG is a home for Midwest style and culture, much like N’East Style is for New England. Instead of just posting one of the illustrations I did for NCG I thought it would be fun to do a special Q&A with Shawn to learn about Midwest style, what’s so great about Ohio, and some essential life lessons his grandfather taught him.
Q. Were you born and raised in the Midwest?
A. Yes, I was born and raised in Northeastern Ohio and went to college at The Ohio State University. I have been lucky over the years to travel and be able to experience the world, but no matter where I go, I alway remember that I am from Ohio. Whenever I am asked where I am from or where I grew up, I say it with pride. This is funny to a lot of people, because in their mind, Ohio, really is not that important. I think over-all Ohio does not get a lot of respect. I mean, most people know Ohio for the Cuyahoga River catching fire, ‘The Drive’ that Elway and the Denver Broncos had against the Cleveland Browns, or more recent, when that self proclaimed ‘King’ decided to take his so called ‘talents’ to South Beach. They associate Ohio with bad things, bad luck, etc. They have no clue about all the great things and people that have come out of the state that have played an integral part in the shaping of the United States. Being from Ohio keeps me grounded. As you can see, I could go on for hours talking about Ohio. I will stop now and save my Ohio History lesson for a later conversation.
Q. What inspired you to start Noble County Gold?
A. I started Noble County Gold as a creative outlet for my personal sense of style and to really focus on things I liked. Having worked in retail for 10+ years, all of it focusing on menswear, I have not always been able to really create items that matched my personal taste or were 100% what I believed in. Don’t get me wrong, I stand behind any style I have ever developed/sold, but never owning my own brand, at times I had to succumb viewpoints of the ‘higher powers’. Noble County Gold is an outlet where I get to showcase things I like and things that I feel are real.
Q. Do you see a difference in Midwest style vs. East Coast? If so what are the similarities and/or differences?
A. Theoretically they both came from the same place. Both regions were built by hardworking men and women that needed clothing that would allow them to preform their jobs. It’s those particular jobs that established a style difference. The East Cost has a more nautical influence, while the Midwest has more of a workwear, agricultural influence. Both have ties to outdoors/sportsmen, but the East Cost is more water fowl while the Midwest is more game/hoof & antler. Maybe I am getting too in-depth on this topic, which I tend to do on a lot of thing/topics.
Q. What items do you always leave the house with?
A. I always have the following in my pockets when I leave the house:
The knife and the wallet with $20.00 are things my grandfather taught me to never be with-out. Growing up, he made sure to make it clear to me from an early age, that those two (2) things are something a man should never be without. The knife comes into use more than people realize and you may end up at a place that only takes cash. The handkerchief is something that I added a few years back. I just don’t put it in my back pocket for ‘show’, but really use it, plus you never know when a lady might need to wipe a tear from her eye. (Mrs. Colley raised a gentleman) My office is extremely dry, so I am constantly putting on the lip balm, but not in-front of other men, that is another thing my grandfather taught me, ‘get ready before another man enters the room’.
Q. What are your favorite picks for Spring?!
A. This spring/summer I am really standing for chinos. I do love denim, but feel spring/summer is the time for the dark denim to be put on the shelf and to break out the twill bottoms. They look great with a pair of lace-up athletics, slip on boat shoes or long-wings. Top it off with sun-washed oxford or pattern poplin shirt for a classic, yet style-right outfit. I am more about the classic pieces in a wardrobe than the latest trends that were interpreted from the runway.Some people call my style ‘simple’, I prefer to call it ‘timeless’.
Special thanks again to Shawn Colley for taking the time to answer some questions and for the support of N’East Style!