From The Line To The Seam: Onetime Dallas Chef Nicole Gossling Left The Kitchen To Improve The Clothing Worn By Kitchen Workers (And Other Creatives).
As a chef, Nicole Gossling has a pretty boss resume. She’s worked in the kitchens at some of Dallas’ finest restaurants — Bolsa, Cafe Momentum and Kitchen LTO, included — and even ran her own popular underground dinner series for a spell.
But earlier this year, Gossling threw all that experience out the door, instead deciding to pursue a passion she developed during that work. These days, Gossling makes aprons.
“I am a chef-turned-bespoke-apron-maker,” she says of her new title.
And she’s making a strong go of it, too, carving out a niche for herself as a protective outerwear designer not just chefs but for all sorts of creatives.
What was once a hobby now consumes her life: The living room and kitchen in her home are cluttered with specialty kitchen items, wooden spoons and sharp knives strewn between vintage sewing machines. Those items help her determine what sizes to make the pockets of her Gossling Aprons creations. The machines help her shape them.
When she’s working here, she makes a bit of a ruckus. Fortunately for her, her neighbors are as supportive of her efforts as her growing clientele is. That’s just one of the things we learned when we recently caught up with Gossling to find out about her transition for chef to fashionista.
In the below Q&A, you can read what else we learned.
What’s your background in your industry?
I really don’t have much of a background in this industry. I have taken a few sewing classes in my life, but for the most part I have just always enjoyed creating art, sewing, crafting, colors, textures and in particular making things by hand for others.
What sent you down the apron-making path?
It actually started with frustration. I was at work in the kitchen, and I was tugging on my uncomfortable “one size fits all” apron. That one size doesn’t even fit most. The neck loop drove me crazy! For me, the neck loop was way too long, so I had to tie a knot in it every day. That made it the proper length, but then it was hard to get my head out of it when I had to go to the restroom. The pockets were in an inconvenient place — straight across the crotch. Anything in my pockets — especially my phone — would always get jammed into my hip every time I had to squat down to get something off of a bottom shelf, which I had to do quite often. To make it worse, the apron was too long, so when I stood up from grabbing something off that bottom shelf, I would sometimes lose my balance and stumble or fall over. So I took my apron home, cut off the tie strings, seam-ripped the pockets off and hemmed the bottom. I gave the apron cross-back tie strings instead of a neck loop, and gave it two separated pockets a bit lower on the thighs. I wore it at work for a couple days, loved it, made another and gave it to my best friend Misti Norris [formerly of Small Brew Pub] for her birthday. Misti showed it to her friend Carolanne Treadwell [sous chef at CBD Provisions at The Joule Hotel] who was putting together a dinner featuring all female chefs and asked me to make 17 aprons for all the guest chefs and bartenders. I got to be one of the guest chefs and debut my aprons at the De La Terre dinner. That was it! I quit my job and started Gossling Aprons!
What’s the transition like, going from the kitchen to a sewing machine?
The kitchen is loud, fast-paced, sometimes chaotic and always about working together as a team to create a well-oiled machine. As you can imagine, sewing in my living room by myself is much different. Sewing is a much slower pace than cooking; it takes as long as it takes till it is perfect. In the kitchen, I always felt like my perfection was being rushed. I’m a very meticulous person, and I enjoy taking the time to make sure I get every single detail right.
What is unique about your aprons?
The fact that I am just one person responding to messages, consulting and collaborating with clients, shopping for materials, making every single apron in my living room and then personally delivering each apron — that’s unique. The design and look to my aprons is also unique — specifically, the cross-back tie strings. I love this design because it takes so much weight off of your neck. As a chef, you spend many hours a day looking down at a cutting board. Having an apron with a neck loop — and especially if you have anything in your pockets — is adding unnecessary fatigue to your neck.
Can you briefly walk us through the process from beginning to end?
It’s a cycle, and it’s not very brief. I’ll try to keep this as short as possible. I respond to Facebook or Instagram messages because I don’t have a website yet and every time I post a new apron photo, I receive a few new inquires. I set up a consultation. I meet with the client. I go through fabric, leather and hardware options. I create and sketch each custom design. I take measurements. I take a 50 percent deposit for materials. I shop for materials. I measure twice, cut once. I iron. I sew. If leather is involved, I draw a pattern. I cut. I glue. I hand-punch every hole for stitching. I hand-stitch. I hole-punch and set hardware — rivets and grommets, mostly. I lint roll. I iron again — everything except the leather. I lay the apron on my hardwood floor. I style apron, and basically roll the tie strings and make them look nice and put props in specialized pockets — pens, pencils, Sharpies, cigarette packs, lighters, etc. I take photos on my iPhone. I crop and sometimes filter. I share on Facebook and Instagram. I deliver the apron to the client, and I get paid the remaining 50 percent. Then? Go home. Reply to messages. Repeat.
What are some of the interesting requests you’ve received from chefs?
Well, my aprons are not just for chefs. I’ve had special requests from artists for specific pockets for paint brushes. I’ve made shop aprons with magnets on the outsides of the pockets so they can stick small metal parts to it and easily access them. I’ve made an adjustable-length apron that has magnetic clasps on the inside so the apron can be mid-shin length or folded under to be mid -high length. Chefs sometimes ask for a pocket specifically for a cigarette pack and another pocket for their lighter. Or a hand-stamped leather name tag with their full title on it. I’ve been asked to make several themed aprons in my style — including Wonder Woman, Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers. Right now, I have a pending request for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
What are your goals for your aprons?
Right now, my small goal is go into somewhat larger production. I would like to produce 20 to 30 of the same design — still custom — for local restaurants, bars and coffee shops. Once my website is up, that will open up the possibilities. I plan to have several options online with customizable colors, pockets, sizes and embroidery. I do want to grow, but I also want to keep it a small business. I want these aprons to always be handmade, bespoke and high quality.
See more of Gossling Aprons’ handiwork on its Instagram feed.