Fashion is a finicky industry where a designer’s genius can be praised and shunned in the same breath. It’s as unpredictable as it is banal and many newcomers aren’t prepared to succeed.
Partly to blame is the allure of instant success on shows like The Hills and Project Runway. These fanciful interpretations of reality make it easy for fashion hopefuls to overlook the disclosure where Tribeca apartments aren’t included and financial backing, an innovative business plan and lots of endurance are your holy grail.
Below the glittery surface of fashion design are business mechanics whose absence can signify instant failure of a brand: especially an emerging one.
Luckily, Nicole Fisher had longevity in mind.
Almost a decade has passed since Fisher began her contemporary womenswear line NIC*FISH. Out of a noticeable void, Fisher’s dream of timeless, contented clothes developed into the go-to label for music ingénues Res, Esthero, AAries and Zap Mama.
Equipped with a degree from F.I.T., a family pedigree of fashion know-alls and invaluable mentoring experiences, Fisher’s arsenal of tenacity, ambition and charm elevated a vision of design into a fashion brand with expansion on the horizon.
Clutch: Tell us a little bit more about the birthing of NIC*FISH.
Nicole Fisher: NIC*FISH began while I was attending F.I.T. in NYC. I was working as an assistant stylist and designer for various artists in the music industry and on the projects of Philadelphia fashion stylists April Roomet, and Crystal Streets of the B. Lynn Group. These initial professional experiences gave me the opportunity to create custom pieces for a variety of creative talent.
Also during this time, my personal style began to evolve, as well as that of my peer circle. As we began to travel the world, ascend professionally, and mature personally, the more I saw that there was no specific designer wardrobe that catered to the lifestyle of an incredibly hip, globally chic, professional young woman. Fast forward to today, the NIC*FISH collection has evolved into the wardrobe for that specific “it girl” – NIC*FISH is all about creating super chic, timeless, transitional pieces in great fabrics that can take a woman from day to night, seamlessly.
Clutch: Have you always known you wanted to be a designer?
Nicole Fisher: Yes, before I could spell the word, “designer”, I knew I wanted to be a designer. But that was mainly because of my upbringing. I come from a fashion family. My great-aunt, Mary Upshaw, was a designer and producer of several fashion shows and pageants in the 1980s and my uncle, Aaron Pender, who mentored under Aunt Mary, still produces fashion shows today with his company, Premiere Productions. I’ve always been surrounded by designers, models, fashion shows and pageants. The beauty of the fashion world was very exciting to me as a child – I knew I wanted to become a part of it!
In my childhood and teenage years, I also worked as a runway model, and I was mentored by an amazing fashion designer Sayidah Hafiz who designed for Patti Labelle during the 1980s. Ms. Sayidah taught me so much professionally about design as well as personally about being a wonderful human being. Many of the concepts she taught me back then, I still apply to both NIC*FISH and to my life.
Clutch: What in your personal life has influenced your creations?
Nicole Fisher: I enjoy all things easy-breezy! I find great peace in the non-fussy. Personally, I like to dress very quickly and very easily in exceptionally stylish, comfortable pieces that will never go out of style.
Also, I’m now 32 years old, and many of my peers are now young mothers, who still enjoy looking exceptionally stylish with baby in tow. As these personal evolutions occur, the more the NIC*FISH collection evolves.
Clutch: In the day of fast fashion, what’s the style philosophy for NIC*FISH?
Nicole Fisher: I’m not really into “fast fashion” – I’m into “practical fashion”. I don’t really go for overt trends – I like pieces that I can mix and match throughout the season, in great fabrics and beautiful, timeless silhouettes. Also, I’m quite frugal, but I will spend money on items that I know will last forever. This was one of the main influences in the development of the convertible pieces in the collection. When designing I’m always thinking, “how many ways can this be worn so it’s more unique?”
The Original Convertible Jumpsuit is a piece that a woman can wear in a multitude of ways, by simply tying the bodice sashes differently. This jumpsuit also comes in a variety of fun bottom silhouettes.
Clutch: Having been in business for almost a decade, what obstacles have you faced? And how did you overcome them?
Nicole Fisher: The main obstacle was believing in myself and my creative ability. My childhood mentor would always tell me, “everything you need to be successful is already within you – it’s up to you to walk in your path”. It wasn’t until the birthing of NIC*FISH that I truly began to believe in myself and what I could bring to the industry, understanding that no one else can do what I do. I became fearless and tenacious – qualities that are very necessary as an independent designer. Especially without major financing.
Clutch: If you had to state one key mantra you’ve developed over time, what would it be?
Nicole Fisher: Believe in yourself, and your unique set of talents. We’ve all been gifted with certain abilities and it’s up to us to allow those gifts to manifest themselves. Confidence is key.
Clutch: What can we expect from NIC*FISH in the future?
Nicole Fisher: You can expect to see NIC*FISH in more online boutiques & high-end retail locations, nationally & internationally. You can also expect to see the development of a showroom/ boutique space for NIC*FISH for overseeing wholesale/retail accounts, and direct collection sales. You can also expect to see me involved in more fun creative projects, relating to costume design, fashion styling, creative consulting and youth mentoring on artistic careers.
Clutch: Do you have any tips or advice you would give to a fellow upcoming designer?
Nicole Fisher: First & foremost, believe in your creative talents. Be diligent – Understand that following your dream, whatever it is, is a process, and does not happen overnight – enjoy the ride. Also, I recommend obtaining a formal education, interning with creative firms for hands-on experience, finding a professional mentor, researching the industry thoroughly, linking with a network of like-minded individuals, aligning with the very best professional opportunities, and remaining very kind, humble, & decisive of your goals. And never forget to celebrate your amazing accomplishments! An exercise I use regularly is writing down everything I wish to accomplish, believing in the reality of my written goals, and over time, I watch my goals manifest into reality.