From the boardroom to the VIP room, there’s no question about who is in charge when you carry a Nikki Chu original. Her handbags are designed to compliment the modern woman’s multi-faceted lifestyle by bridging the gap between fashion, function, and technology. The design phenom’s gift for good taste has also transformed interiors for Mo’Nique and Boris Kodjoe among others. We chatted with Nikki about the vision behind her brand and what it takes to handle your business.
Clutch: What’s the mission/vision behind the Nikki Chu brand?
The Nikki Chu brand is a line of luxury business accessories for women, that fashionably blend design with function. The brand designs and manufactures laptop bags, handbags, and accessories for the growing women’s luxury market. The line of bags and totes are exactly what women have been asking for: design, function, and affordability.
Nikki Chu is a brand that is synonymous with design. Extravagant, but functional design is the key to the Nikki Chu brand. The self-empowered fashionable businesswoman demands quality and a product that will fill the void of a world full of “black nylon” business bags. The Nikki Chu totes are made exactly for the woman, whose lifestyle evolves from day to night.
Our goal is to be recognized as the leader in fashionable, yet affordable business bags for the growing executive woman. With technology taking the lead, Nikki Chu intends to follow. As we work our way into a wireless world, more women will be toting their laptops alongside their baby carriages. Our objective is to make sure that women are progressive, and at all times fashionable, as we continue to shake up traditions and culture.
Clutch: How did you get started in the fashion industry? How did you start working with interiors?
I got started in the Fashion Industry about 6 years ago, after quitting my 9 to 5 as a Creative Director at an advertising agency. I turned to what I knew best which was styling and reconstructing vintage clothes. As a child, I always had a passion for clothes, but we couldn’t ever afford anything I liked. I started sewing new arms on shirts, and cutting legs off of old pants. With the things I could do with a glue gun, who knew it would lead to all this.
As an interior designer I would say I was a late bloomer. But, I knew something was there because growing up I continually changed the layout of my bedroom, and it was always the most stylish place in the house. I didn’t nurture it until a good friend of my asked me to design her dressing room on the set of her TV show. To look like a club we went to in Miami, she wanted it all white, intimate, lots of candles and low seating. I executed it with only a $3000.00 budget and my business became word of mouth.
Clutch: Where did your passion for empowering women to embrace technology, while balancing fashion and function come from?
I have been a businesswoman since the day I left college. I constantly travel with my laptop, magazines, paperwork and files. I love technology and what is even more exciting is that it is ever changing, faster than fashion I believe. Ipod’s, Blackberry’s, cell phones, and CD’s to burn files… where do we put all these gadgets? So, I decided to develop a line of laptop bags, and handbags to accommodate modern traveling businesswoman, who still appreciate fashion yet with function.
Clutch: We love your tag line “handle your business” and you are obviously handling yours, what advice would you give to other young women who are striving for career success?
Yes, “handle your business” is definitely the mantra at Nikki Chu Design Corp. if I had to give young women advise for a successful career it would be: Education, dedication, and relationships. Education is the foundation of everything I do. I studied graphic design, which I use some aspect of it at least everyday, with all my projects. I can honestly say without that degree, I would not be where I am today.
Dedication. People who become extremely successful usually have put at least 10years of focus and dedication to the same goal. Whether its, day or night, weekend or weekday, it takes that commitment in order to see the huge payoff.
Relationships. What people don’t realize is that, most successful entrepreneurs have had doors opened because of a relationship with a businessperson they know, or having a positive attitude, and following up on contacts you meet. Sending thank you notes or small tokens of appreciation can get you further than a resume sometimes. Besides doing the work, maintaining my relationships with business associates is the other huge aspect to my success. Remember someone always knows someone else who can help you.
Clutch: What characteristics should a woman look for if she’s interested in investing in a quality handbag?
When investing in a quality handbag a woman should look for, compartments and pockets inside the bag. Yes, size does matter! Most women go day to night and the need to carry a lot of STUFF in her bag is important. Pay attention to handle comfort, sometime we can get caught up with the look of a bag and the function of it is not there. Chain and hard metal handles will be come annoying after a few hours of carrying it. So, stay away from funky handles that don’t have support.
Clutch: What are some signature details or distinguishing features in your design work? When we look at a Nikki Chu design, be it interiors or accessories, what sets it apart from the rest?
Some signature details you will find on my bags are very clean graphics, lines, and my trademark wallpaper pattern. What sets me apart from the rest is my attention to detail and my unique life experiences that have brought me from my humble beginnings from Toronto to Los Angeles. Traveling the world and seeing what women really need.
Clutch: Your eye for style extends to so many different areas, where do you find design inspiration for each project?
I find design inspiration everywhere I go! Hotel lobby design is my favorite place to draw inspiration for my interiors. I like clean lines, and modern meets vintage. Magazines are a great source for my inspiration, art galleries and open house tours on weekends. Inspiration for my handbags come from flea market finds and vintage stores. I like to take the old and revamp it into something new.
Clutch: You’ve worked on interiors for some of our favorite celebs including Tyra Banks and Gabrielle Union, who’s been your favorite celebrity to work with and why?
They have all been a pleasure to work with. Most of the celebs I have decorated for just want to come home to their house completely decked out! They don’t have the time in their schedule to do a project of that magnitude and that is why they hire me! I enjoy projects that I am trusted and given creative control, based on my portfolio of work. Music to my ears is “ I trust you and love your work, just do what you do best!”
Clutch: How would you describe your personal style?
My personal style changes from day to day, usually depending on my mood. Most people who know me say I always look different, from my hair, to my make up or my clothes. I am very eclectic in my style. I may have on a $10.00 dress, with a $700.00 pair of boots. For me it’s all in your accessories.
Clutch: We feel practically naked without our handbags, why do you think women are so attached to their bags?
Handbags to women are like sports cars to men, there are all different kinds of price tags and some represent a certain financial status. I think its all about human psychology, they say there is a waiting list for a $10,000.00 bag and everyone in the world wants it. Women save every last penny to get that item for status just like men and cars. We are trained to want what no one has, or to get something exclusive. Our handbags hold our life; it’s a part of our wardrobe.
Clutch: Are there any handbag/accessory trends that we should keep an eye out for?
New trends to watch out for are oversized bags and vintage inspired bags. Look for totes that are classic and can last longer than a season. Women are no longer carrying bags with diamonds and studs all over it, they tend to be to trendy and go quickly out of style. Bags are reverting back to simple, chic and functional.
Clutch: What future projects or collaborations do you have in the works?
Currently, I am doing collaboration deals with a number of company’s from sportswear and apparel to furniture. The Nikki Chu design concept expands across many different platforms. For more information about Nikki Chu please log-on to www.nikkichu.com and www.nikkichubags.com
1.Sophia Laptop Bag, $350, 2. Brandy, $300, 3.Sandra, $400, Nikki Chu Bags