What started as a school project soon turned into a real-life business for former Fresno State student Nicole Coelho.
Coelho is the creator and owner of the clothing line, Royal Rabbit. She majored in business entrepreneurship, and for her senior project she needed to create a business.
Coelho decided on a motivational fashion line. She started small with bracelets that had custom-made charms, including the Royal Rabbit logo.
“I took an event planning class, and in that class we had to throw an event, and it just so happened that I was starting Royal Rabbit at the time,” Coelho said. “So I threw a big launch party in Tulare.”
Tulare is Coelho’s hometown.
After the launch, Coelho decided to experiment with several clothing designs, and in November 2009, her line became official.
Coelho wanted to make her business more than just another clothing line. She said she wanted to create motivational pieces that would inspire the girls who wear them.
Her life experience inspired her desire to create not only a fashion line, but one that would have meaning in each piece of clothing.
“Growing up I was a cheerleader for 10 years, and then I coached a cheer squad and dance team for about six years through college,” Coelho said. “I coached in an area that was way out in the country, in Pixley, that wasn’t super high income.”
The Royal Rabbit office is in Tulare, but she also has a showroom in the fashion district of Los Angeles.
Royal Rabbit clothing is available in about 90 stores across the United States, Australia and Japan.
Not only is the Royal Rabbit brand being shipped off to stores across the world, but the actresses of the hit TV series “Pretty Little Liars” also wear the sassy clothes.
“I watched a couple episodes of ‘Pretty Little Liars’ and I loved it,” Coelho said. “I knew it was a new show, so I figured they probably had a low budget. So I automatically contacted their head of wardrobe—I actually contacted her over Facebook—and said, ‘I have a clothing line and I would love for you to use our stuff. I will send you what I can.’ She was so thankful and she has been so loyal to us since.
“Every season she will email me and let me know they are going to start shooting in a couple weeks, and asks if I can send over some of my favorite pieces that they can use,” Coelho said. “So that has kind of been the biggest blessing.”
Royal Rabbit clothing is constantly designing new trendy pieces that are aimed at a particular kind of girl.
“It is designed for your everyday American girl,” Coelho said. “She loves Starbucks, she loves getting her nails done, she loves her friends and she is just a free spirit.”
Because the Royal Rabbit line has become increasingly popular, Coelho has hired interns to help her out.
One of her interns, Danielle Fontana, a public relations major at Fresno State, thinks the way Royal Rabbit started is inspiring.
“I remember when she first told me about how she started the line, and I honestly couldn’t believe it,” Fontana said. “The fact that she started this business while she was still in college further reinforces the idea that if you love something and work hard at it, you can make it happen.”
Coelho wants her pieces of clothing to be unusual, so each quote she incorporates on her clothing is one she created with the help of her friends, family and interns.
“One thing I learned while I was a cheer coach was that everyone has their own story, everyone has their own life, everyone has their own issues and it’s really cool that you can make a quote that can really touch someone,” Coelho said.
Coelho thinks the support of the people in her hometown had a huge impact on the rise of her business.
“A huge part of Royal Rabbits success would be where I am from—Tulare,” Coelho said. “They just have completely supported it. I have holiday sales and there are over 250 people that come.
“I just think when you have support when you are trying to create something that you’re selling, is very important,” she said.
Victoria Mederos, a Tulare native and Fresno State student, is still fascinated that people from outside of Tulare know about Royal Rabbit.
“I guess it’s kind of weird,” Mederos said. “Even when I see people wearing Royal Rabbit in Fresno, I check to see if I know them cause usually it’s people from Tulare wearing it.
“It seems like everyone is wearing it now so I would say that she’s really supported by Tulare, especially since she has her shop and you can just go to sales there,” Mederos said.
Coelho, a hard worker at heart, is ready for the next big thing, and will keep working hard to make her line even bigger.
“I just think if you do something that you love, you will work hard enough to make money,” Coelho said.