There's something endlessly inspiring about women who rise above their own personal struggles and create beauty out of the ashes of their hardship. I think, in some form or another, all true beauty comes from a place of trial — much like diamonds are made out of extreme pressure.
milo + nicki, a brand new ethical, cruelty-free line of women's wear, was born out of founder, Nicki's own struggle and as someone who values true vulnerability, Nicki's story was initially what drew me to the brand.
Inspired by Nicki's Zambian and Indian roots, the pieces in their first collection — now available on Kickstarter — embody vibrancy and are meant to empower the women who wear them. Her six piece collection is made with eco-friendly fabrics, that are 100% biodegradable and cruelty-free, and printed with plant-based dyes. milo + nicki is truly the definition of a conscious brand and a quick glance at her gorgeous first collection will tell you that without a doubt.
I've loved getting to know Nicki better during her Kickstarter campaign — which she hopes will help her raise the funds vital for getting her meaningful brand off the ground — and I know you'll love reading about her heart and story behind milo + nicki.
Can you introduce yourself in a few sentences?
My name is Nicki and this handsome, crazy energetic stud pup is Milo. ☺ We are based in Austin, deep in the heart of Texas!
We are an energetic duo that love hard and care deeply about people and the planet. Our lives have been full of highs and lows (especially in health), evolving bodies, and many life struggles, but we have never skipped a beat on lifting each other up.
We want to bring that same happiness, confidence, and authenticity to you! Through our made in NY, designed in ATX pieces, we hope to empower you, the ever-evolving women, to conquer your fears, take a leap of faith, never give up on yourself, and live a life full of color.
By combining our vibrant, cultural roots with our passion for sustainability, living cruelty-free, and our bold personalities, we hope you feel strong, confident, and empowered while tackling all things thrown your way while letting your true colors shine.
What was the spark that inspired you to create an ethical brand?
I definitely think it was a combination of sparks that pushed me to entrepreneurship and creating my own ethical brand.
Milo and I both hit a big lull in health in 2014. The combination of small health problems, Milo having a major injury (requiring him to take tons of western medicine), and a very stressful burglary that spiraled us both downward, we begin to slowly feel the floor crumble beneath us.
While working full-time, commuting back and forth from New Braunfels to Austin, and the fear and pressure from my employer, I came to a breaking point. I knew this was a sign, and I took it. I left my full-time job to build up my health, find purpose, and share my love for making a difference in the world.
I pushed myself to find a cause and cure, but it wasn’t that easy. In my pursuit to grow stronger and healthier, I also found small jobs to help with our medical expenses. I began working for a fashion company whose mission was to help women feel and look their best self. It felt like I had found a small piece of purpose, and I wanted to explore that more. I researched and strategized what I was going to do. I combined my passions and I came up with the happiness cure.
First was my family, and their health and happiness. If I had that, I needed nothing more. I knew that wasn’t a way of living so I dug down deeper. Second, I realized fashion had always come to the surface in my life journey – first job in fashion being a tom-boy (very ironic), best bosses and most inspirational women I have ever had/known in fashion, and this new role of empowering women in fashion. Third, I knew what set my soul on fire and that was making a difference in someone else’s life. I find joy in other’s joy and so does Milo. With our love for nature and lifelong passion for sustainability (previously in corporate America), it became a mission.
And it hit me. I was going to create something that would allow me to inspire and empower other ever-evolving women to find what set their soul on fire in the rapidly changing world we live in where societal pressures and life changes merge.
As women, we feel pressure to play multiple roles may be it be a daughter, mother, sister, employee, spouse, colleague, etc. We’re taught to be competitive rather than supportive, and we’re held to higher standards. With this base, we begin lose ourselves, our colorful gorgeous individuality, but we don’t need to. We are strong, beautiful, independent, confident, courageous, loving, caring, and phenomenal. We can do it all. Let’s share it, let’s flaunt it! Why not?!
milo+nicki is a cruelty-free, ethically designed womenswear line that empowers women and inspires change.
What has been the biggest roadblock along the way?
With entrepreneurship in any industry, there are a ton of highs and lows. This is what makes the journey so exciting and honestly, what I love. It keeps you learning, adapting, and growing while exploring places you have never been.
For my journey thus far, the biggest road block has been within product development and it is sourcing the perfect fabric. Not only is the sustainable fabric supply and demand very small (super sad, but true) especially domestically, but it is also very polluted with false pretenses of being eco-friendly, sustainable or ethically made.
With transparency as one of our core values and a love for very rare fibers, it was a huge struggle for our brand. I also had the unfortunate experience of losing my fabric supplier multiple times in this first collection (a process that had taken me 7-8 months initially). I came to the point where a month before I had previously planned to launch, I was without a supplier.
I searched high and low, had a few major mental and physical breakdowns, and spent weeks of back and forth 5 a.m. emails in Mandarin to suppliers in China. I finally found the perfect supplier who shares my same vision for ethical, transparent production of fabrics while ensuring fair wages and safe workplaces for all employees.
Although the journey of finding my perfect fabric supplier was a long and quite stressful one, it made the process so much sweeter and has allowed me to grow and learn in ways I never imagined. It is definitely bitter sweet.
What is one thing you wish consumers knew about ethical fashion?
Something that I have learned and really strive to do, is not take something at face value. There are a lot of brands out there using and abusing the terms “sustainable” “eco-friendly” “green” and “ethically-made”. Remember to always ask questions because this will really helpful you filter out the brands that are “acting eco-friendly” but truly aren’t in practice. It doesn’t matter where you are – in a store or shopping online – you as the consumer have a right to know who made your clothes, where it was made, how it was made, what it is made of, and the story or journey of the piece. When you know all these parts to the piece you purchase, it will not only feel good to make the purchase, but you will do good for our planet and people creating a cyclical system of wanting to wear it more.
Once your kickstarter campaign comes to an end, what is the next step for milo + nicki?
Our Kickstarter campaign is helping us fund our first run of production to launch milo+nicki. We will also use our funds to continue growing our business and develop our next collection.
We hope that each collection will empower and inspire women to live a life full of color while driving the ethical and sustainable fashion movement. When we do good, we feel good. Let’s continue to live with purpose and inspire change.
Click here to support milo + nicki on Kickstarter!
*This post was compensated by milo + nicki. As always, all sponsored posts are authentic and hand selected by me. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Simply Liv & Co. possible!*