Lady Brigade Blog

Founder of Lady Brigade Shares an Honest Update March 24 2016 12 Comments

You may have noticed that things don’t seem to be as fresh around here as they once were and boy is that true! Lady Brigade's founder, Nadine Noky, wants to be open and honest with you about what’s been happening, what’s coming up, and what she's learned along the way!

I do all my own stunts

Lady Brigade is a One-Woman Operation (for now).

First, let me start by giving you some background. When I launched Lady Brigade I had quit my “Day Job” to design, build, and create Lady Brigade from scratch. I focused on everything from designing shirts, building a website, and all the legal (no fun) stuff on my own. I used some of my savings to assist in purchasing merchandise and to sustain me for the 6 full months it took to build the business. And it all worked out.

After the launch I had a site, I had designs, and I had inventory. But Lady Brigade wasn’t known by many, and it was like that old question, “If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, does it really make a sound?” I had built this brand, I had done what I had set out to do, and I had created designs that I knew many women like myself wanted to wear. However no one could see or hear Lady Brigade’s message, it was like Lady Brigade didn’t even exist!

I knew at that point, that it would take time to build awareness and I made the decision to go back to work while I focused on growing that awareness. I figured it would take around a year to really build some traction, but I was wrong. I had no idea and no way of knowing then, that Lady Brigade would be featured on Buzzfeed, thus catapulting Lady Brigade to a whole new level, just 2 months after I had accepted a new, second job. By that time, I was knee-deep in a heavy UX design project and couldn’t quit what I was doing (and I loved doing that, too). I had to tough it out. So that began 10 months of little to no sleep at night-- as days were spent at work, evenings with my son, and nights filling orders with Lady Brigade, with weekends printing shirts and running out of space to hold all the products! Thankfully a handful of friends and family members were able to assist during the busiest times!

Nadine Laid Up in Pain

Stress triggers and emphasizes physical pain.

So what happens when you burn the candle at both ends? You burn out. I burned out, both physically and mentally. 

Old back/neck issues from my military service flared up so badly, I couldn't walk, stand, or even drive a car for days at a time (the photo above was taken after days of lying in bed). I spent countless hours in bed and countless dollars with doctors, chiropractors, and acupuncturists--desperate for a solution to fix this problem so that I could get back to work! But the pain lasted longer than I was willing to accept and for a period of time, I felt HOPELESS. Will this pain ever stop? How will I catch up with all the work I’m missing? What will people think if I don’t perform? How did this happen? The truth is, I have always had goals, crystal clear goals, like starting Lady Brigade. However with the limited time I had within the last year. I hadn’t focused on a vision for the future or set any goals to achieve that vision, like, when would I quit my day job and fully commit to Lady Brigade once again? I was taking on more work and more projects, working too much, and not taking care of myself. Had I had a clearly defined vision for my health, for my family, and for Lady Brigade, I would have been able to avoid many of the mistakes and much of the stress that eventually contributed to my physical pain. 

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We need a vision for the future and goals to get us there. 

Although the physical pain was (and slightly still is) bad, it was a much-needed blessing in disguise. It finally forced me to refocus on what I wanted for the future and what my goals should be. I had to decide what my vision for Lady Brigade was once again. And what Lady Brigade meant to me and even what it meant to you -- those who support Lady Brigade. Lady Brigade is my passion and I love being able to serve you all with what I do. I love thinking of new designs and I enjoy reading the awesome emails and comments I receive (thank you!!). Even more, Lady Brigade has served as a catalyst to help mentor and speak with other women and I love being able to give back to charitable causes through Lady Brigade. These are the things I enjoy, and part of the vision I want to maintain for Lady Brigade going forward. I knew If I didn’t remove the things that weren’t as important to me that I would continue to overextend myself and eventually lose my health and Lady Brigade- and that was not an option.

So with my vision crystallized, new goals have been set and decisions have been made!

I have decided to focus on Lady Brigade full time! No more “day job!” I am fully committed to making Lady Brigade succeed without a day job. My energy is where it needs to be-- with what and who I care about most. The next few weeks will be crazy, but worth it, with more awesome designs and products coming out (FINALLY), and me continuing my efforts to find an official operating space for Lady Brigade.* 

I know this was a long-winded post just to share why things haven’t updated or to let you know that I quit my day job, but I thought this was important. I wanted to be honest with you, I wanted to share the true story of a small business, and to possibly motivate you to make decisions with something you've been struggling with in your personal or professional life that could be weighing you down, too.

Do you think envisioning your future and setting goals has or could help you move forward with a situation you’re dealing with? Feel free to share your comments below!


-Nadine Noky, Army Veteran & Founder of Lady Brigade

* Lady Brigade is so happy to announce that we have finally achieved this goal--and that Lady Brigade's official retail store and headquarters will be opening in sunny Sarasota, FL, Summer 2020!!!


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A Few Additional Reasons Why Women Veterans Are the Fastest-Growing Group of Entrepreneurs November 10 2015 1 Comment

This evening I read an article on Inc. Magazine’s website titled, “Why Women Veterans Are the Fastest-Growing Group of Entrepreneurs.”  I was excited to see that Inc. (love them) was covering something that I could relate closely to-- as I am a woman, a veteran, and a business owner. However, upon reading this article, my excitement quickly turned into dismay. The author, Kimberly Weisul, states three main points on why women veteran businesses are growing. To summarize point 1: Women are more likely to be caretakers and less able to hold a steady job; point 2: There are more benefits to being a woman-owned and veteran-owned business; point 3: There are a number of growing educational programs and groups willing to help veteran businesses succeed (one of the points I do agree with). Although Weisul makes some great points, many of these are benefits that occur after you own a business and not a key motivator to starting one. 


Here are some ADDITIONAL REASONS why women veterans are the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs: 


They can deal with diversity. Although we women are serving in record numbers (an obvious contributor to our entrepreneurial growth), on average, there are typically still only 15 women for every 85 men in the military and about 10 female veterans for every 90 male veterans. These women know what it’s like to work twice as hard to achieve the same amount of respect as their male counterparts. They are willing to go the extra mile to succeed. The same dedication and time they put into their military careers, they use to succeed in business.


They are used to trying new things. When you can join the military and leave everything you know for something new, you’re a natural risk-taker, an adventure seeker, and an optimist. These are the same adjectives that could be used to describe many successful entrepreneurs. This same adventurous mindset makes for an optimistic outlook when contemplating the start of a new business.


They know the importance of family. One of the main reasons I decided to leave the military in the first place was the lengthy deployments and spending time away from my son. I wanted to see him grow up and to make up for the time that I had lost while being deployed. Owning my own business gives me the flexibility and the opportunity to spend more time with my family, a reason shared by many other entrepreneurs from various backgrounds for starting their own businesses.


They live and work by military values. The first day you join the military, words like honor, duty, dedication, are quickly engrained. These aren’t just words to a veteran, they are values that they live by, during, and after service.

That is why women veteran entrepreneurship is growing, we have the courage, the dedication, and the values to try something new, something as crazy as joining the military or starting a business. 

-Nadine Noky, Army Veteran & Founder of Lady Brigade

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What Would You Want the Public to Know About Veterans? November 07 2015

This November, Nadine Noky, the founder of Lady Brigade, will be speaking publicly about her military experience and what it means for her to be a veteran. However, she knows that she is only one person within a vast community of brave women and men, all of whom have varying degrees of experiences and thoughts that are equally, if not more, important than her own. Her goal during this November and moving forward is to share the voices of other veterans and to give every veteran an opportunity to be heard.

If there is one thing you could share about being a veteran, what would it be?

Email your response to: along with your name, branch of service, and years of service (feel free to submit a photo too!)-- (Example: Jane Smith, US Army 2002-2007). Ms. Noky will work to make all your comments heard this November.  


*** Please note, by submitting an email response, you are agreeing to share your comments publicly and Lady Brigade may use your email submission for future blogs, articles, and publications that relate to sharing veteran experiences.



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I Never Thought I’d Say This, But I Miss the Military. May 28 2015 8 Comments

While I enjoyed being in the military, I disliked the feeling of being tied down--carrying the weight of one decision I had made that essentially affected my life, at least, for the next couple of years. I can’t think of many other jobs that require you to sign a contract to stay for X amount of years, except for something like signing a music contract (I wish) or, you know, playing for the Yankees. So, a few months before I got out I couldn’t wait--I was excited! I was looking forward to a new chapter in my life, and I recall thinking a number of times, “I will never, EVER miss the Army or this place.” As it turned out, I was wrong. I do miss it, and here are just a few reasons why:


(Image Source: SFC Mark Burrell, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.)


Although I desperately try to stay in shape now, it was so much easier when someone else told me to exercise. Exercising at 6:30 am was tough, especially if I had a late night before.  However, I figured that if I was out of bed and on the field, I would get the most out of it.  I pushed myself every morning and many evenings to be in the best shape of my life. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy when it isn’t part of your workday.


(Image Source: Phillip Stewart identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.)


I don’t care what you say, even if the food wasn’t great, you pretty much always had access to a meal cooked for you. Even an MRE required little preparation: just heat and eat. And yes, I will still trade you my M&M’s for your peanut butter.



If you are lucky enough in the civilian sector to get a uniformed job, cherish it, don’t take it for granted! I always knew what to wear every day; no guesswork. No matching, no ironing, no color-coordinating, no high heels. You get the point. It was easier, and let’s face it, much more comfortable!


(Image Source:: By: DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Angelita M. Lawrence, U.S. Air Force. DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Angelita M. Lawrence, U.S. Air Force.)


Although I took a handful of college courses while I was enlisted, I was an idiot for not taking more. Free. College. Classes. A perk provided while on active duty. Sure, it’s tough to balance work with school, but it’s worth it when you realize that the benefits far outweigh the negatives (especially when one is temporary and the other is permanent). I seriously miss this perk, and yes it is true, I used the G.I. Bill after leaving the service to earn a degree. I only imagine how much farther I could have gone, had I dedicated more time to my education while I was still serving.


(Image Source: photo by: by Cpl Unique B. Roberts)

Free Housing

Before someone says it, yes, you were charged some crazy, minuscule food/housing fee when you first joined the military and stayed in the barracks, but in all seriousness, where else do you get a furnished place and three meals for just a few dollars a day? Some days when I’m paying my rent, food, utilities, and clothing, I miss those simple days--Minus the random G.I. parties.


Vacation Time / Leave

Since I have left the military, I have not had a civilian job that has ever provided me 30 days of paid vacation time a year. At my last corporate job, it was a luxury just to have 2 weeks of paid vacation time a year and most of those days I kept on reserve for if my son got sick. Having 30 days a year, plus additional 3-4 day weekends, made visiting friends and family a much more frequent and easier occurrence than now.



(Image Source:: Photographer: unknown)


Friendship has to be at the top of my list of things that I miss the most. Let’s face it-- if and when you prepare to go to war with a group of strangers, you pretty much form an instant bond and a friendship that no one else in the civilian world can understand.  For most of us, these friendships literally meant laying your life on the line for someone else. Most of my closest friendships to this day are a result of my time in the military and I treasure them above all else.


-Nadine Noky, Army Veteran & Founder of

Also, if you are a lady veteran, don't forget to shop the store! 

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8 Things Only VA Patients Would Understand November 19 2014 17 Comments

Here are a few highlights of what it's like to use the VA as a veteran from my perspective. Please note that this blog post relates to my personal accounts, other veterans may or may not have had similar experiences with their VA facility. This blog posting is for entertainment purposes only. 

1. Calling the VA to make or reschedule an appointment...

When will someone answer the !@#$%^ phone!?!? Enough said. 


2. Waiting 3 months for an appointment...

You got through, someone answered your call! Congrats! What-- you have a rash? Your arm is chopped off? You’re dying? Well please get in line! As you know by now, the VA has come under recent scrutiny for long wait times for appointments and I'd say it's a valid complaint.


3. Getting asked the same questions every single time you go to an appointment...

No, my contact information has not changed. No, my insurance has not changed. No, my emergency contact has not changed. No...


4. Being a guinea pig for interns...

Congrats! You’ve managed to wait patiently for your appointment only to be greeted by a new intern!  With her fresh textbook knowledge and an optimistic attitude, she is sure to know how to fix the ailment that you’ve waited so long to have checked out. Don’t worry though, her attending physician will sign off on the prescriptions without even examining you. You want a follow-up appointment (just in case her suggestions don’t pan out)? Naw, we don’t do those here, go back to the end of the line!


5. Travel Pay!

Ok this is a perk. As a civilian, I may have to drive an hour to see a specialist on top of my VA appointment, but as far as I know, I will not be reimbursed for my travel expenses. One surprising and often overlooked perk of the VA is being reimbursed for gas/mileage when I have to make an appointment, even is it's just a few miles away! It’s something I'm thankful for - seriously.


6. Ibuprofen cures everything...

There is nothing more near and dear to my Primary Care Physician's heart than a handy prescription of 500 milligrams of Ibuprofen. "Runny nose? Backaches? Dizzy spells? Take two pills every 8 hours for the next two weeks and if it doesn’t go away and you’re not dead yet, please come back so we can up your dose."


7. Leaving the pharmacy like you just robbed the place...

“Would you like a grocery bag Ma’am?” A question that I was seriously asked before leaving the VA pharmacy. If ibuprofen didn’t "cure it," be prepared--you are about to get 12 new prescriptions to fix whatever it is you have. The first time this happened to me, it was a little embarrassing, but I quickly realized everyone walks away from the VA pharmacy with a grocery bag.


8. Being the only woman in the waiting room...

Yes, please stare at me like I'm performing in a circus sideshow. Yes, please ask me if I work here. Yes, please ask me if I served in the military, even though I am wearing my shirt that says "VETERAN."  

 ...I have a sneaky suspicion that there will be a part II to this post...

Also if you are a lady veteran, don't forget to shop the store! 

-Nadine Noky, Army Veteran

image sources: and


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