Heliena Walton brings unique businesses to San Juan Bautista

Notably Noble Co. opens as a companion shop to her successful Thankful Co.

Notably Noble Co. a men’s clothing store in San Juan Bautista, has held its soft opening. For founder Heliena Walton, 47, it’s the final step in finding a permanent home for a shop she has wanted to own since she was a teenager. 

And for Walton, it is another business to add to the list of successful enterprises she has founded or run. From a cleaning service to construction service to education to a series of storefronts, Walton has been creating businesses since she was a teenager and now has two stores in downtown San Juan Bautista.

“I started my first business with my best friend, Tina Etheridge, when I was 16 years old,” she said. “We wanted to open a men’s clothing store and we needed some funding to make it happen, something that would not cost much to get started. We started a cleaning service called Tidy Queens: ‘If you want the best, forget the rest. Call on royalty, we’re the queens of clean.’”

It was the beginning of a series of twists and turns that seemed to take Walton further from her goal of starting Notably Noble Co. Detours included starting her own business in construction management and running the charter school her children attended.

“After the charter school closed, I started working in San Juan Bautista,” she said.” My uncle, Dante Bains, told me he was getting a store started and asked me to help. When I got it up and running, his wife Patricia took it over and it became Mrs. B’s Z Place. I still had the construction management job going on but I was able to finally get my men’s store up and running on Third Street.”

The store, In Style, was an immediate success. Walton decided to expand into the location next door, which led to the closure of the store which she had worked so hard to create.

“I ran that store for seven years,” she said. “We did really well, so the idea was that I would start a sister store right next to it with women’s products. We were going to knock down the wall between them but there was a lot of asbestos that complicated things. It took a long time for the abatement and I had a lot of inventory in storage so I opened a new In Style store at Cannery Row in Monterey. I started doing shows and jazz festivals, which made more money than the store did.”

In a defining moment for her business, a vendor from Stetson Hats offered her a money-back guarantee—if she invested $5,000 in his hats and they did not sell, he would personally buy them back.

“That catapulted me from doing shows and opened up a new world for me,” she said. “But I broke my ankle and had to close all my businesses because I did not have the staff to keep them open.”

Looking for a new start after her recovery, a conversation with Bains brought her a chance to get back to work, taking over Red Barn Antiques at 300 Third Street. Bains offered her a 50-50 split on sales, but she saw much more potential for the building.

“It came to me that this space is so big that we need to do more with it,” she said. “We started converting it to a convention center and office space. But I wanted to start another store. I had an idea to start a men’s work clothing store to complement a housing project my family was developing for the disenfranchised.”

Walton was starting to plan out the new store when her relentless work began to take its toll. In 2019, her doctor warned her that she needed to de-stress.

“That really awakened me and enlightened me,” she said. “I remember going home and seeing a sign that said ‘Thankful’ on my wall. I thought about how thankful I was that the doctor stopped me where I was and made me think about my health in a different way. Even though I had orders in for the men’s store, I shifted gears and created Thankful Co. to get people to think more about how to keep their bodies in tune and intact, because it was something I myself was lacking.”

The store has a full line of health and beauty items such as organic teas, lip balms, aromatherapy products, soaps, skin creams, immunity boosters, and CBD edibles. The focus is on small-brand items that are non-toxic, organic and sustainable. 

“Everything has been hand-selected for a reason,” she said. “We take the time to look and identify new products to bring to people so they can see there is a difference between going to Walmart and going to a small-town store with a purpose.”

“It is an easy place to come in and enjoy yourself,” said Walton’s daughter, Essence, who has been working at Thankful Co. for two years. “It is an amazing place to work and you really become enlightened on the products. I tell the customers that we use the products in order to review them, so we really get to know what we are selling.”

Thankful Co. has been a success, but the idea for a men’s store remained at the forefront of Heliena’s mind. She tried selling a few men’s products but decided it was not a good fit for the theme of the store.
“It did not resonate with the customers,” she said. “I still did not want to let the idea go, so I decided to move these things into a smaller space where they could be accepted. I came up with the name Notably Noble Co., which is a spin on my husband’s name, William Noble Bronson, and really resonated with me.”

The store stocks items like shower soaps, shaving creams, skincare products, clothing and, of course, the Stetson and Panama hats she was so successful in selling before.

“Our clothing line comes from independent manufacturers in places like Turkey,” she said. “All of our health products are vegan and organically sourced. There are criteria for vendors who want to get products into my store so we are supporting artisans and small companies that are doing it right. I believe this is a service industry and it is our responsibility to be sure people have access to quality products at an affordable price.”

Both Thankful Co. and Notably Noble Co. reflect that concern. The stores are bright and inviting, filled with fine products, unique gift ideas, and exotic aromas. Walton takes pride in finding unusual but very appropriate merchandise for home use or as gifts.

“All along I have had a heart for people and a love for showing people something different,” she said. “It is not just about making money, but taking care of our clients, and the people those clients will attract.”

The store had its soft opening in early April, and Walton intends to have it fully stocked by September when she plans to hold her grand opening.


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Robert Eliason

I got my start as a photographer when my dad stuck a camera in my hand on the evening of my First Grade Open House. He taught me to observe, empathize, then finally compose the shot.  The editors at BenitoLink first approached me as a photographer. They were the ones to encourage me to write stories about things that interest me, turning me into a reporter as well.  BenitoLink is a great creative family that cares deeply about the San Benito community and I have been pleased to be a part of it.