Fashion forward

Former banker now balances her life as a business owner and new mom

Kimberly Fields | 4/18/2024, 6 p.m.
Chanel Nelson-Green is the owner of Liznel, a Richmond-based fashion boutique that has showcased designs in Hampton, New York and ...
Chanel Nelson-Green

Chanel Nelson-Green is the owner of Liznel, a Richmond-based fashion boutique that has showcased designs in Hampton, New York and Washington, D.C. The name Liznel combines Ms. Nelson-Green’s name and that of her grandmother, Elizabeth.

When entering the fashion business nearly 10 years ago, Ms. Nelson-Green had little formal training. Today, in addition to running her own fashion business, and serving as executive director of RVA Fashion Week (April 11-28), she is a gentle force who wants to see other creatives grow and sparkle.

Ms. Nelson-Green recently described her journey, rising influence and aspirations for RVAFW, which showcases Richmond’s diverse fashion and culture. Since 2008, RVAFW has represented Virginia’s top models, designers, stylists, cosmetologists, photographers and other artists.

Free Press: When did the fashion bug bite you?

Ms. Nelson-Green: I have always been into fashion. I was born and raised in fashion. My mother was a model and she loved designing fashion. My grandmother also designed, and they taught me a lot of what I know. The pivotal moment for me was when I was in banking and I realized I wasn’t enjoying myself. I was in banking for almost 10 years and, no matter how much I moved, no matter how much I grew, I just wasn’t happy. I sat back and assessed myself and where I wanted to go, and this is how I ended up here. I did my first fashion show with RVAFW in April of 2015 and, in May, I started my brand.

That’s how I became acquainted with Fashion Week.

Free Press: Congratulations on being tapped as the new executive director of RVAFW. What do you hope to bring to this space?

Ms. Nelson-Green: Thank you! I want to make sure that creatives not only can create, but also thrive. A lot of the times we see where creatives stay in the hobby space and they have a hard time getting to a place of having a full business. Also, I am introducing some beautiful designs. I had a baby last year so I haven’t really been able to design. It’s really cool to step back into my sewing room and start creating.

Free Press: Elevated seems to be a theme for your boutique. Elevated style, elevated confidence, elevated self. Talk about the role elevation plays in your life.

Ms. Nelson-Green: I believe that elevation goes hand in hand with favor. I believe that God has given me favor to do the things that I do and I would not be who I am today if it wasn’t for Him. I don’t want to say, ‘Hey, I want to make you better,’ because you are already great because you are a person. I am all about, ‘Hey, this is who you are and you’re already great. How do we elevate this?’ We all have a little bit of confidence, but how do we pull that out of people? So to me, elevation is all about taking what you have in your hand, pulling it out and lifting it up.

Free Press: On Liznel’s website, you note the importance

of having a safe, resourceful space and how Liznel wasn’t always privy to that space. How did you overcome this and other obstacles?

Ms. Nelson-Green: Failure is hard, but the way you overcome obstacles is by shifting your perspective. You learn that you don’t need to overcome them; you are just going through them to get to the success. Things get better; things elevate. That’s one of the ways I’ve overcome obstacles. No. 2 would be community.

There are a lot of things that come with a community that make you better. If you do not have the right people in your corner who will tell you when you are right or wrong, you will never get past the obstacles because you will always think you are right. No. 3 is knowing when you don’t have all of the answers. I’ve learned that when you are comfortable knowing that you aren’t always perfect, it gives you the freedom to be.

Free Press: Liznel has showcased designs in Richmond, Hampton, New York and Washington, D.C., and has been invited to Paris and London Fashion Week. You’ve been called a woman of influence. How does that make you feel?

Ms. Nelson-Green: Being a woman of influence is hard for me because I am always worried about how I influence people. Not because I want to be perfect and say all of the right things. I want people to be who they were created to be. And I think, when you care and you are passionate, being a woman of influence can be hard because you have no power in controlling how they receive the influence and I think the weight is heavier than a lot of people understand. I wear it as a badge of honor.

Free Press: Tell me your favorite all-wardrobe-adaptive piece and what color palette is really going to stand out this season?

Ms. Nelson-Green: My blazers are my favorite. They are the most pivotal piece. I’m going to wear a sweatsuit; I’m going to wear a blazer. I’m wearing jeans; I’m going to wear a blazer. I’m going to dress up; I’m going to wear a blazer. I love blazers. It is the most interchangeable item. The colors from this season that will stand out the most will be green and pink.

For more information on RVAFW, please visit rvafw.com