Sitting calmly, clad in his own creation—a white V-neck with the French phrase “Les gens courageux” scrawled in black—RoyLyn Palmer-Coleman exudes confidence and creativity. But for the 23-year-old productivity analyst for Feather River Hospital, his confidence in life is relatively new. His inaugural clothing line, dubbed Vaughn de Heart, was picked up by the Trucker clothing store in Chico in March. A formerly shy guy from Berrien Springs, Mich., Palmer-Coleman has used influences from his upbringing to create his courage-admiring line of shirts and hats and has begun to make a name for himself as a man of fashion.
How did you get started designing clothes?
The first shirt I ever screen printed, I wanted just a Japanese character on the front—I couldn’t find it anywhere so I said, ‘All right, I’m gonna make it.’ I took it to class … I unveiled the shirt and there were gasps. My senior year of college [at Walla Walla University] I became president of my fraternity, and made a shirt for it. A year later I was in Southern California and I was walking around a mall … and I think I see a guy wearing the same shirt. The dude was like 35 and he had kids. I walked up to him and I was like, ‘How did you get that shirt?’ And he said, ‘I got it from a thrift store.’ I was like, ‘I designed that shirt.’ That is what pushed me over, that’s what gave me the courage to do it.
What do you enjoy about fashion?
Clothing is the highest form of art, because it’s art that you live in. I just like the power that clothing has—it can not only make you feel better but it puts the impression you want on the world. It’s like the first statement that you make is your clothing. You put on the right clothing, and people can think you’re the most powerful person ever, or the most organized, or the biggest slob, just from your clothing.
How did Vaughn de Heart take shape?
What inspired the name is the town that I grew up in; it was a pretty international town. Andrews University attracted people from all over the world. My neighbors on one side were from the Dominican, the others were from France. The stories that they had, it’s something that goes beyond language—it’s like heart, like courage. The full name means lion of heart. Heart is the strongest name I felt a connection to.
What’s it like being a man in this industry?
There’s less stuff out there for men; the market is less crowded. I feel like it might make it a little bit easier, because there’s less diversity in men’s clothing.