AB: Where were you born, and where did you grow up?
NK: I was born and raised in New York City.
AB: What was your childhood like?
NK: I grew up on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. I went to a small private school called Lenox, and I remained there until 7th grade and then attended Riverdale Country School. Growing up in the city was very normal to me. I didn’t know any other way. I had fantasies about living in a house and being able to play outside on a bike, but I feel so fortunate to have been raised in New York. It has so much to offer in fashion and the arts. My parents were in the business of fashion, so I was exposed to the most inspiring people. The city gave me the drive and ambition to do what I love.
AB: Your earliest/ fondest fashion related memories/influences?
NK: My mom. She loved fashion. She was the one who saw that I had an interest at early age and exposed me to fashion on film, TV and Broadway. She loved to entertain at home as well as dress up. I absolutely loved to shop with her in stores like Bergdorf Goodman and Henri Bendel. I loved to look at all the dresses and fabrics and watch my mom try them on. I could literally sit in a dressing room for hours. I have her to thank for all of this.
AB: Childhood dreams/ heroes?
NK: When I was at Parsons School of design in New York, I was obsessed with Michael Kors. I was lucky enough to have an internship at his company. Today I feel blessed and lucky to call him a close friend.
About Kule Stripes
AB: When did you know you wanted to become a designer and launch your own brand?
NK: I always knew what I wanted to be. My family was in the fashion business and it was the one thing I was so sure about as a kid. You can say I was born into it.
AB: How did that journey start? How did Kule Stripes come to be?
NK: My journey is too long to tell. I have been a lover of stripes since I can remember. I own close to 100 striped shirts from all over the world from my own travels as well as family and friends, but couldn’t call one of them the perfect stripe shirt. So I decided to make the “perfect” one. I felt it was important to be good at one thing and to focus on that. It gave me the ability to tell a very clear story and offer a clear product.
AB: Take us inside your design process.
NK: My design process starts with a folder on my desktop of color inspirations, images from my travels, museums visits, and images from Pinterest. I then start to sort them and play with Pantone chips until I have my palette. Then I start to think about stripe patterns. The process is becoming more and more intense as the collection is growing and there is more to it than just striped tees and shirts.
AB: What is the toughest part of being a designer?
NK: Having everyone tell me how they would design differently.
AB: What are some of your favorite pieces you've designed over the years?
NK: I personally love and wear The Brooke stripe shirt almost everyday. I love the cut and the fabric and it has become my uniform. I also love the Modern Long tees. I wear the clothes I make all the time, not because I feel I have to represent the brand, but because I genuinely love the product I make.
AB: Who do you design for? Who is the Kule Stripes girl/woman?
NK: I design for myself and hope other people like to wear it.
A Little Bit More
AB: How did you establish your style as a designer?
NK: It’s truly not something I think about. It’s just who I am.
AB: The best piece of advice anyone ever gave you?
NK: Go with your instincts and do what you love. This advice came from my husband, my biggest supporter.
AB: If there's one place in the world you could be, where would it be?
NK: Tuscan seaside.
AB: If you weren't a designer, what would you be?
NK: I would love to buy, redesign and sell homes. I love HGTV!
AB: Where are you taking your brand? Future plans, next steps?
NK: We are very excited to grow our direct business. We also just signed an international showroom and excited to grow the brand over seas.
AB: A fun fact about you no one knows.
NK: That I still dream about becoming a hip hop dancer.
Visit Nikki and the Kule Stripes crew here, but more importantly, shop their collection here!