Designer Martha Gibbs Gottwald majored in English and minored in French at the University of the South: Sewanee. During her junior year, she studied at the Sorbonne where French classes became more of a runway showcase than a learning center. It was always all about the fashion. After Paris, it was clear fashion would be in her future.
However, her dreams of starting a fashion line crashed one week before her college graduation. The night of May 5, 2013, she was a front-seat passenger in an automobile accident. Martha barely survived with a severed ear, broken ribs and back, and a traumatic brain injury. After a year of rehabilitation battling short-term memory loss and impairment of executive functions, Martha made a miraculous recovery.
Martha took this second chance to do what she loves, to communicate through a platform where she could inspire, connect, and create. Fashion became her outlet to inspire others to endure and overcome. It may sound trite, but clichés have to originate from something real and true.
Neubyrne; new you.
Full Name: Martha Gibbs Gottwald
Current Title/Company: Founder Neubyrne
Educational Background: BA Sewanee: The University of the South
Please tell us, what was your first job and how did you land that position?
When I was 17 years old I applied to work at Abercrombie & Fitch. I remember going through the process and thinking how much I love being around clothes. I guess that showed because I got the job and worked in retail from ages 17-25.
How have your designs evolved since your first sketch?
Drastically. I took a course on How to Create and Manage a Fashion Brand when I lived in Singapore and I realized that I really needed to brush up on my sketching ability. From then on, I became obsessed with sketching and adding 3D embellishments and making them funky and different. I love looking at my first sketch, which I have framed in a shadow box in my office. It reminds me of where I started and how far I have come in such a short period of time!
What have been the biggest challenges or obstacles you’ve faced in your career and how were you able to overcome them?
The biggest challenge to overcome has been learning to hear “no” so often. I have heard “no” repeatedly throughout this process and I just had to compartmentalize it and move on. One door closes; another door opens. It has been difficult for sure, but it also has been the most amazing journey.
How did you learn the ins and outs of owning and operating your brand?
Trial and error. I am still learning every day!
As a business owner, how do you achieve a work/life balance?
It is important to me that I am a wife and mother first, then a business owner second. I never want to say that I missed the big moments in my daughters early years because I was too busy launching this business. Baby steps. Neubyrne will take time but I enjoy the process and will not give up. I am thankful that my husband is Neubyrne’s biggest fan.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The people I get to interact with and the ability to see the women artisans in Vietnam laugh and smile makes every second of hardship absolutely worth it.
What is a typical workday like for you?
I just had a baby in April so it is hard to use the word “typical” any day. I am usually bottle in one hand, computer in the other, & phone on speaker!
Best moment of your career so far?
Being accepted into NOLCHA shows for NYFW. I signed the contract in labor at the hospital. I was/am SO excited.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t wear that cat collar to Aaron Carter concert. Just don’t.
Go-to coffee order?
Venti latte with soy milk
If you could have lunch with anyone, who would it be and what would you order?
Karl Lagerfield and definitely a cheeseburger
Best advice you’ve received?
Go big or go home.
Who would play you in the movie of your life?
Blake Lively….Serena Van der Woodsen YAS
The Nolcha Shows are a leading award-winning event, held during New York Fashion Week, for independent fashion designers to showcase their collections to a global audience of press, retailers, stylists and industry influencers. Over the past seven years, the Nolcha Shows have become established as a platform for discovery and have promoted cutting-edge, innovative fashion designers through runway shows and exhibitions.
The team at Chic Galleria is thrilled to collaborate again with the designers featured at the Nolcha Shows, September 7 –12, 2017. We look forward to showcasing these talented designers and attending their shows this fall. — Beth Anderson, Founder and Senior Editor, Chic Galleria