The Woman Behind the Brand: Nicki Patel of milo+nicki

At news macarons, we pride ourselves on seeking out only the most inspirational, passionate young women to touch our hearts and motivate us weekly. One of these girls, Nicki Patel, captured our curiosity from the very beginning of our site’s existence, back before our current layout was published or before we decided to expand our team and pursue advertising.

It was her (very well-written) article in Darling Magazine that caught our attention; it was all about debunking the myths on sustainable fashion. She made the entire concept sound so unique, so utterly fashionable, that we immediately knew that we wanted to know more about her. And thankfully, we did. Before we officially launched ourselves, we just had to find out more about milo+nicki.

We were so excited when she agreed to work with us; it was an instant connection! Two young brands, led by two young women, working together to make each other’s dreams come to fruition. What could be better? And as it turns out, Nicki’s story about overcoming health obstacles, quitting a job she didn’t enjoy, and then ultimately launching her own fashion line would hit home more than we realized. We heard your outpouring of support for her mission and for her journey, and we’re excited to announce that we’ve collaborated with her yet again! This time, it’s for the milo+nicki Kickstarter campaign, which launches today, and we couldn’t be more excited to share it with you.

(Seriously, if you haven’t read her first story with us yet, read it here!)

So this leads us to where we are today. Nicki’s officially launching her Kickstarter and spreading the milo+nicki love around for other eco-conscious, empowered young women to rock the hell out of. Thankfully, she sat down with us a couple of months ago before the hectic day-to-day preparation that a Kickstarter campaign brings to tell us a little more about the Nicki Patel behind the brand and to show us how she became a kick-ass entrepreneur that refused to let endometriosis win or a disingenuous job bring her spirit down.

Read some highlights from her interview below to discover how she did it!

Let’s start with a brief background. In your earlier article with us, we discussed a little bit about your past, but we want to know more about the girl behind the brand!
Hi ya’ll! My name is Nicki and I was born and raised in New Braunfels, Texas, a small German town between Austin and San Antonio. I have 2 older sisters, Sapna and Sneha. Sapna is an architect in Los Angeles and Sneha is a prosecutor for the Dallas County DA’s office.

My Indian-Zambian parents prided themselves on raising us to have good morals, to celebrate diversity, and to have an equal opportunity in education and growth. Since New Braunfels had little diversity at the time, my sisters and I attended a private Christian school until middle school when we transferred to a public one. I feel like this was a true blessing because it allowed my sisters and I to experience different cultures and religions at a very young age with a Hindu home-base and Christian school-base.

We all attended The University of Texas at Austin and have grown up to be very strong, independent women. I would never be where I am today without my parents, sisters and Milo.

How did you feel starting your own company? What has your experience with entrepreneurship been like?
I was very nervous at first because I am only in my mid-20s and I found myself making a huge leap of faith without any support or help. Emotionally I felt supported by my family and Milo, but from a business perspective, there wasn’t any there. I feel really blessed now because I was accepted into an amazing accelerator program, Factory45, that helped me overcome my nerves, build my confidence, and find that support community I needed.

Milo+Nicki is still very much in its beginning stage, but so far it has been a whirlwind of emotions and experiences. Being an entrepreneur has many highs and lows, but that is kind of why I love it so much. You get to learn, grow, and create something that is your own to share with the world.

Sustainability in the fashion industry is a difficult concept to implement, based on the realities of production alone. How does your label overcome this?
I think fast fashion has created a domineering platform specifically in the USA. We as Americans are swayed by snazzy magazines, tempting TV commercials, flamboyant radio ads, and big block department stores throwing huge discounts and quick trends at us constantly. But why are we being pulled into this blender of media and misconceptions? The change happens as we educate the consumers, and consumers have the power to change the industry.

Thankfully consumers are now asking questions. They genuinely want to know where their clothes come from, why are they made with that fabric, and what consequences their consumption habits have on the world.

Crazy enough, it actually hasn’t been very difficult to build a sustainable fashion line because ultimately people want to help people. We want to help our planet, our world, and our ecosystem. We’ve seen what unsustainable production brings, like the tragedy at Rana Plaza several years ago, for example.

We care about each other whether we admit it or not. And by simply educating and understanding how garments are made, by whom, what material is used, and the effects that this all has our environment motivates customers to make the shift. This change in spending habits is now allowing slow fashion to enter the market and seep into the cracks to break apart fast fashion conglomerates. Major brands like H&M, Zara, and Forever 21 are now coming into the spot light and finally feeling the heat.

How do you do it all? Do you have any tips, tricks, or suggestions for others looking into becoming entrepreneurs or starting their own fashion label?
Creating a schedule is a huge help, and sticking with it is very important. I try to plan out my schedule weekly with a little wiggle room. I also think it is important for people to know that, although I am launching milo+nicki and I hope to have it as my full-time role in the future, I am currently supporting my dreams through other part-time jobs. Although temporary, it is important to know that in order to achieve your dreams, you have to put in the sweat and time to accomplish them initially.

Balance and scheduling are key for me.

For entrepreneurs wishing to start their own “made in the USA,” sustainable fashion line, I highly recommend Factory45. It is an accelerator program that takes an entrepreneur from idea to launch with the community and support you need to accomplish your dreams. Shannon is an amazing mentor and I would definitely not be where I am today without guidance from her and Factory45.

What is your ultimate goal for milo+nicki?
I want to empower women wherever they are in the world. I want them to push the limits within themselves and within society to live, to love, and to shoot for the stars. I want to bring light and joy to their lives through my vibrant fashion line and simultaneously make them feel amazing about supporting a sustainable, eco-conscious line that is helping our environment and world.

My final advice to others is to listen to your gut, follow your heart, and anything is possible Don’t let doubt and fear cloud what your heart knows is true and real.

When we do good, we feel good, and I want milo+nicki to embody that. #pawsforchange 😉

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