Nikki, when did you decide to found your own brand? Can you believe it took me two years to come up with the name NIKKI WILLIAMS. Naming the brand after myself wasn’t what I orginally had in mind, but I just couldn’t find a name that encapulated the brand. We have a simple set of values: Make beautiful handbags. Treat people well. And tell you all the story of the leather goods we make – putting my name to what I do gives it a real honesty.
How many people are working with you right now? I have a small team of people who work with me. They are a collection of very creative and talented people. It’s so important to believe in the team around you. We all work to support each other. That’s one of the things that I think is truly the secret to success – treat people well, and of course our customers. This is the core idea of my business, cause it's the people that make my business what it is.
What was the reason for you to start your own business? Have you always been interested in handbags and accessories? I don’t think I have the one reason for starting my buisness – one day I just started. From then on, I decided to do one thing a day towards starting a business – about 950 days later – I launched NIKKI WILLIAMS. It was a journey of many small steps!
Like most people I wasn’t born with a passion. My dream of designing and making handbags was cultivated over 15 years or more. In my past career, I was lucky enough to work along-side some amazing designers such as Stella McCartney, Victoria Beckham and Tom Ford. It was hard not to “catch the bug“!
What did you do before?
I grew up in a small remote country town called Sofala, it’s in central New South Wales Australia – the population is about 40 people. My nearest friend was a 15km drive away (and the nearest store selling handbags over 50km away), so my sister and I spent a lot of time entertaining ourselves as children. I think when you to have to create your own fun you really develop your creative skills. I loved to sew and make things, I even tried to teach myself how to tan my own hides. 20 years later, with an Economics degree under my belt and 10+ years working with high-end retailers and brands I decided to blaze my own trail.
What are your primary tasks at the moment? How does your day look like?
I’d love to sit around dreaming and sketching designs all day – but my day is far from it. I start with checking my emails and discussing designs with my suppliers. Sourcing leather is a big part of what I do. A design is nothing without the right leather. I love doing the occasional photo-shoot and the coffee-run of the day is a great escape from my desk!
Where do you find inspiration for your final designs?
My inspiration is the leather. A lot of my designs sare simple, classic & timeless and let the beautiful leather speak for itself. I am also very inspired by my childhood growing up on the farm and riding horses. Many of my designs feature natural calfhair, suedes and braided tassels – I always loved the braided leather of the saddles and bridles and now I am just re-creating my own 'designer' version.
What is special about your handbags?
Our bags are very much about "Understated Luxury". At NIKKI WILLIAMS our main goal is to make high quality luxury bags that don’t cost the world. We produce the highest quality possible, but don’t charge like the international high-end designer labels. Our all leather Hampton Tote would cost around $800 in a traditional designer store – you’ll have to check out our website to see our price. We want our customers to enjoy having a beautifully hand-crafted bag made from the best leather we can source. Each bag has its own story.
The Marni clutch e.g. is inspired by two of my favourite places in the world: NYC and a little unknown town of Sofala (my home-town). You couldn't get two more different places. It was first made in dust pink -the colour of a beautiful NY sunset streaming in between the skyscrapers. The leather was bought right on 38 West Street NYC in the heart of the fashion district. The leather braid is inspired by the braided knots on my horse riding gear as a child. It was the first bag I ever designed and it took over 12 months to bring the design to fruition.
Where are your bags produced and where do you sell them?
My bags are a global creation with leather from Italy and Spain and production elements in New York & Asia. We have stockists as far south as Melbourne (www.stylepalace.com.au) and as far north as Gardabaer, Iceland (http://www.mai.is). And you can buy them online at www.nikkiwilliams.com, we offer free shipping globally!
How important are social media and influencers for a new brand like Nikki Williams and your target group?
Social media is a fantastic free platform for new businesses. I love instagram @nikkiwilliamsco, it’s a fabulous way to connect with our customers and meet new people. I am very honest about the information I put out there. I don’t pay for followers – everyone that follows me is a real person. We’ve also been blessed with some great support from fashionable influencers in New York @fashionpalette, London, Sydney @jessie_khoo and LA @shoes_and_sashimi.
Your favorite place you’ve ever been to?
I’ve been lucky enough to travel the world from the Greek Islands to the ski feilds in the USA, but I’d have to say London is my favourite place. It’s not so much the city itself but the people there. London is a melting pot of people from all over the world. It’s a wonderful place full of excitiment if you know how to scratch it’s surface.
Thank you very much!