Nikki started her fashion career shortly after graduating from the general fine arts undergrad program. She debuted her senior collection in DC fashion week then went on to New York, Milan and Paris Fashion Weeks in 2017. She began her residency with the DC Fashion Foundation in the same year in which she had a studio inside the Macy’s at metro center. There she was able to cultivate and grow her fashion company. She then went on to later participate in Feeric Fashion Week in Sibiu, Romania and London fashion week. She now has dedicated her business solely to creating masks during the pandemic. She plans on re-launching her brand in Feb 2021 to include women’s clothing, accessories and masks.
- CEO Hack: The calendar app and I also use Instagram as a business card
- CEO Nugget: Don't be so friendly, be careful
- CEO Defined: Being flexible, patient and a great leader
Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview? If so, you’ve come to the right place, Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you’re in search of. This is the I am CEO podcast.
Gresham Harkless 0:29
Hello, hello. Hello, this is Greg from the IMC podcast and I have a very special guest on the show today. And Nikki Hendrix and Nikki Hendricks shop. Nikki is awesome. have you on the show?
Nikki Hendricks 0:39
Thank you for having me. I'm excited to be here. I'll be on the show.
Gresham Harkless 0:44
Yeah, absolutely excited to have you on the show and be here as well too. And before we we have Dan, I want to read a little bit more about Nikki so you can hear about all these awesome things that she's doing. And Nikki started her fashion career shortly after graduating from the general Fine Arts undergrad program. She debuted her senior collection in DC fashion week that went on to New York, Milan and Paris Fashion Weeks in 2017. It should be in her residency with DC fashion foundation in the same year in which she had a studio inside the Macy's and Metro Center. There she was able to cultivate and grow her fashion company. She then went on to letter participate in ferrick Fashion Week and CBU, Romania and London Fashion Week, she now has dedicated her business solely to creating mass during the pandemic. she plans on relaunching her brand in February 2021 to include women's clothing, accessories, and mass Nikki, are you ready to speak to the imcl? community?
Nikki Hendricks 1:38
Yes, let's get it
Gresham Harkless 1:40
as do it. So the to kick everything off. I want to hear a little bit more on how you get started. Can you take us through what I call your CEO story? Well, that you get started the business.
Nikki Hendricks 1:49
Yes. So, um, back in, I believe 20 2015 I actually created my first collection emmalin della schoon. Um, I was in college, my junior year, I believe in my house, actually my house at home caught on fire. So I just I was doing a lot to try and scramble to get to that first collection. But it it really went far I got a lot of attention. The school really promoted me, um, we'll make that I went to the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland. Okay, um, they help promote that collection. And I got in DC Fashion Week first. So my senior year, I created the collection half and half was just supposed to explore, I want to say different identities within America. So that includes different races, genders, sexes, religions, things like that, I interviewed 20 different models with 20 completely different backgrounds that all went to my school, oh, sorry, that all into my school. And I told I asked them what image best represented them. So I took that image and I put it into the design for the fabric that I made for that collection. So every piece would have a part of the model in it. So it gave a whole new meaning. So just something to wear. It's something you keep, and something that's, you know, going to transcend different generations and things like that can be passed down, because as a story attached to it. So that was just kind of like my start. And surprisingly senior year, um, things just blew up. I guess it was just it was crazy. I was trying to figure out what I was going to do next. And that, sorry, I was trying to figure out what I was going to do next. And I got an email from all Fs Oxford fashion studio. They're based in London. And then they were like, can you do New York Fashion Week in Paris Fashion Week. So I was like, I would love to have been I got started with those fashion weeks I did New York and then while I was in New York, I got discovered again do Milan Fashion Week. So I bought a plane ticket and was off to Milan before Paris Fashion Week. So I didn't York, Milan, then Paris thing came home. So that was like a huge whirlwind for like my first year and I didn't didn't really know how to cultivate it into a business because it started as me being a creative. So then I started trying to backpedal and All right, let me get this kind of more business geared and focused. So I met Christine Brooks Cropper, she founded the DC Chamber of fashion under I believe, Mayor Anthony Williams. So she's a great person, great person to be connected with. She's my mentor, lover a shout out to Christine. Um, yeah, so I was there. I had my studio in the mail. sees and I was just trying to take classes and get more business oriented. Again, I'm a creative, I went to an art school, I don't have a business background, but I learned so much in the two years that I was in that residency. And while I was in that residency, I got into British Vogue. Um, I got featured in British Vogue, GQ, British, or Ukg, to GQ. Um, what else was it? Um, yeah, so it was a couple magazines and publications that I really excited, I got into that at all just blanket in my mind right now. But it was still like, a really crazy kind of catapult. And now it's just trying to figure out how to make this successful and thriving business.
Gresham Harkless 5:53
Yeah, I absolutely love that. I think so many times that people have, you know, their gift, they're passionate, they're, they're calling, you know, so to speak. And a lot of times, you never know exactly how you know, it's going to work out, but you take those steps, you just kind of pursue it. And then next thing, you know, all these doors, magazines, and, and different fashion week starts to open up for you. So it's definitely a kind of a great reminder. And I want to hear a little bit more on like, how you serve your clients, can you take us through, like what your business does, and also like, what kind of goes into, I guess, the process of how you decide what is going to actually come to fruition and become a part of your lines.
Nikki Hendricks 6:31
Okay, um, well, so, at first, I started off doing more of tailoring on one on one kind of designs. But as I, you know, learned more about the fashion industry and how a lot of fashion designers operated, I started making samples for collections, and then just selling my collections. And I would do certain projects with people on the side, you know, I'm still fee if I still wanted to create, and not just be a business brand, but also something interactive, and still fun. So like having events and fashion shows and pop ups. So being really in tune with people and talking to people constantly and getting my inspiration from people. So um, that was more, I want to say more of the way I operate my brand. As far as creating collection. Now, the process that I go through is creating sketches. So I just keep sketching and keep feeling inspired. I probably keep about 50 sketches between like, four or five sketchbooks, and I have Apple my phone, Tom Platt, pret eight, I'm not a French person. But it's a really great app for any fashion designers out there, it's really great for on the go, I have it on my iPad, I just get to do whatever. So I compile about 50, then I have a consultant that goes through and we pick some of the strongest ones. And after that, it goes to the manufacturer to get the samples made. And then once I have my samples made in the sizes, then you have the runway show, that's when you show it off, no Fashion Week or doing publications or doing commercials I just shot a commercial in New York recently, for a mini collection I'm launching later on in 2021. But, yes, so it's just kind of like that whole thing. And then after you've promoted it, you can really sell it and work on the next collection. So it's a cycle.
Gresham Harkless 8:37
Yeah, no, I absolutely love that. Because I love how you came up with the idea. And I love the kind of interactivity that you kind of referenced as well to where you have the different models. And you really drill down into here, their stories and those stories kind of sounds like laid the foundation for that specific collection. So I love that entire process. And I think that so many times when you see, you know, fashion, we sometimes don't see and feel all those stories. So I really love that you you you expand upon that. And that kind of taps into your creativity.
Nikki Hendricks 9:06
Yeah, thank you, you know, I really, you know, fashion is for people like it's for people to express themselves and feel included in you know, being a black woman. I'm already not at a lot of tables, you know, so I just tried to make what like, you know, try to make people feel like they're in the clothes, like they're part of the clothes. And that makes it easier to sell. You know, like, cuz people it's for them, you're gonna buy something that has your name on it or, you know, like versus something that's just a regular t shirt. You'll keep the one as your name on it because it sentimental to you. So,
Gresham Harkless 9:42
yeah, absolutely. That's why I love that story piece. I feel like we all can kind of connect to each other through stories and like you said, when you feel like you're a part of the piece because you can resonate with somebody's story. Then all of a sudden you feel like it is like having your name you know on it because you have that type of connection and association with it.
Nikki Hendricks 9:59
Right? Right. So that's just you know how I run my brand pretty much.
Gresham Harkless 10:03
Nice. I love that. And so let me ask you this, I was gonna ask you for what I call your secret sauce. And this is the thing that kind of sets you or your brand apart and makes you unique Do you feel it's that ability to be able to, I don't know if the right word is synthesize or hear somebody's story here, what they're looking for the gist of what they're earning, and be able to kind of manifest that into two pieces of your collection.
Nikki Hendricks 10:25
Yeah, I mean, what really sets me apart from a lot of fashion brands is that I really try to include the voices of the people that would actually be wearing the clothes, you know, as opposed to Yeah, you can make something cute and beautiful all day, but you know, it can carry a story, then it has a lot more power with it. So and that can make a statement. You know, in that collection, I called it half a half of those blends. The next question I did was half and half. Um, I really wanted to make it important that I sat down and interviewed, I have tapes and everything of talking to the models, I asked them about what their family life was like on a Sunday. And realizing that we all are just pretty similar, we all do kind of the same thing we have in a collective American culture. And, you know, just, it was the time that Trump was elected. And I believe that things were really just divisive. And it just felt like you were the other a lot. Just trying to get people to commune together and to see that the differences don't mean anything. And it was hilarious at the Fashion Show, seeing all the models that are also different, different places, and didn't even talk to each other across majors and everything everyone was friends, like, brought everyone together in a weird way. So you know, just being able to do that I feel like I set myself apart. And then my last collection half and half really, really quickly, was inspired by my brother moved to Japan, and he married a Japanese son, his name is Jin. So it was and then the way that they're raising him is to have a double consciousness, you know, that's from web to boys. Talking about, right? So being African American and American. So we were trying to embrace the culture of Japanese and African American what that looks like. So that was the collection of those two urban styles mixed together. So again, like I just tried to, you know, put the stories of people that felt like they didn't really belong here. We didn't really belong here. But, you know, just still kind of the fun in the chaos, I guess.
Gresham Harkless 12:33
Yeah, I appreciate that. And I wanted to switch gears a little bit. And I want to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be like an app or book or habit that you have. But what's something that makes you more effective and efficient.
Nikki Hendricks 12:46
Definitely a calendar app. Definitely printed template, the one I plugged earlier. Instagram, honestly, is a business card. It's, it's a great business card, I now see that people can have like these things where you can tap photos, you get all the info you get there, how to contact them, Instagram, and you can see everybody's portfolio, what they've done, what they've been working on who they've been working with, within following, so you can get a lot of information from that. It's a great, great networking tool for the fashion industry,
Gresham Harkless 13:17
I wanted to ask you that for what I call a CEO nugget. And this could be like a word of wisdom or a piece of advice and might be something if you have to do a time machine, you would tell your younger business self.
Nikki Hendricks 13:27
Um, don't be so friendly.
Gresham Harkless 13:31
I was definitely like, the first to smile and you know, work with anybody. Um, but I have been burned a lot. I've been burned a lot just because of how nice I am and how willing I am to work with. Awesome, awesome, awesome. And now I wanted to ask you my absolute favorite question, which is a definition of what it means to be a CEO. And we're hoping to have different quote unquote CEOs on the show. So Nikki, what does being a CEO mean to you?
Nikki Hendricks 13:56
A CE o means being flexible patient. I'm a great leader in saying that you have compassion that you're not a tyrant.
Gresham Harkless 14:08
I love that definition and perspective. And I appreciate your time even more. And so what I wanted to do is pass you the mic so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional, you can let our readers and listeners know and of course, how best they can get a hold of you and find out about all the awesome things that you're working on.
Nikki Hendricks 14:24
Okay, um, so I just want to plug I'm making masks again. My masks are black lives matter and black lives, black, LGBTQ plus Lives Matter. There are my website. I'm $5 from each mask, I donate to the love the love land Foundation and the capital. I'm sorry, the capital bank, big capital. I'm, I'm not mixing my words right now. So I mean, I can send you those links. But yeah, the proceeds go to those orders. organizations that help better black people, whether they're servicing their well being their mental health, or you know, just trying to get through day to day things. So I have those masks that I'm making. So feel free to buy them and help out because, and also support a black business. And just stay tuned for my next collection. Once you follow Hendrix designs on Instagram, you'll be able to stay tuned in a beat on everything going on. That's Hendrix design. So yeah, that's about it. Follow me on the ground.
Gresham Harkless 15:35
Yeah, absolutely. I definitely appreciate you Nikki, we will definitely have the gram your Instagram handle, we will have the links to your website. And also those organizations. All organizations are also on your website as well, too.
Nikki Hendricks 15:47
Yeah. So once you click on the mask, it'll tell you everything.
Gresham Harkless 15:50
Okay, perfect. So we'll have links to that. Yeah, no worries, we'll have links to that information in the show notes as well too, so that you can go to support and I think that I appreciate you, obviously for again, getting the opportunity to kind of tell not just your story, but so many stories of people that you've talked to as well. And I think a lot of times we forget that we can use our dollars in order to empower others to empower those stories and make sure that that narrative is being had so I definitely appreciate you for taking a stand in providing us all opportunity to do that as well too. And I hope you have a great rest of the day.
Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO podcast powered by Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at IAMCEO.CO. I am CEO is not just a phrase, it’s a community. Be sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google Play, and everywhere you listen to podcasts. Subscribe and leave us a five-star rating. Grab CEO gear a www.CEOgear.co This has been the I AM CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless. Thank you for listening.
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