Designer and Founder, Helena Noelle
Talk to Patton and Andrea Gleason for a while and you’re going to hear a lot of enthusiasm spill forth.
“I’m passionate about connecting to the great people, places and stories that this city has to offer,” says Patton, the founder of Thrivident Retail Services, a business that helps independent retailers by converting surplus inventory into working capital.
The couple moved from Texas to Richmond 15 years ago and never looked back.
“The energy I feel from this city moves my soul and I can’t imagine being anywhere else,” says Andrea, owner of Helena Noelle, which makes custom bridal pieces that sell worldwide. “I think if we love the city we live in, we make better decisions about how we want to impact its future.”
Partnering with the Healing Place and Caritas, Patton mentors and hires people trying to break the cycle of homelessness. “The momentum started in earnest when our focus became solving problems for other people,” he says, “not seeking opportunities for ourselves.”
Andrea says their relocation to Richmond was partially motivated by the vibrant design and fashion culture here. Most of her design team is made up of Virginia Commonwealth University graduates. “VCU has one of the best programs in the nation and I am lucky to work with an amazing team,” she says.
Volunteering with StartupNext, Patton mentors other business owners on the intricacies of seed investments, growth strategies and operational efficiencies. “My mission is to be a servant leader who creates meaningful interactions to help other people thrive” he says. “My motivation is that I believe you are what you help people to be. I want to be happy, successful and grateful. What better way to get there than helping other people do the same?”
When not designing headpieces and jewelry for brides, Andrea is homeschooling their three children. Recently she opened up a wholesale component to the business and began expanding to retail locations around the world. “I try to live and lead by example,” she says, “and I hope the best parts of that rub off on my family and employees.”
Both are committed to the work it takes to make the city better. “I want my actions to match my words,” Andrea says. “If we’re serious about this city continuing to thrive, we can’t just wait for someone else to do it. For me, this means living here through the good and bad and being visibly active in the community.”
Patton acknowledges that Richmond isn’t the perfect city, but that was never something he was interested in. “I wanted to grow with a place that had scars and grit just like I did,” he says. “I wanted to be in a place where my family, my friends and my business could have an impact. Richmond has really interesting problems to solve. We need the best of each other to use our talents and skills to solve some big problems in creative ways.”