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Nina Tiari: stylist-turned-designer's in-depth look into starting a brand

Nina Tiari: stylist-turned-designer's in-depth look into starting a brand

Nina Tiari is the founder of her eponymous brand, Nina Tiari. Nina worked as a stylist at Paper Magazine, We The Urban Magazine & Refinery29. She is the Creative Director of her brand and occasionally still has some styling clients. Nina was born in Houston, Texas and moved to Northern California around the age of 12. She went to USF in San Fransisco. She was studying to be a lawyer, but also had a love of fashion, art, colors & paintings. She realized the thought of working in fashion made her happy and therefore, pursued that dream. Once she decided this, she began exploring the different opportunities within the industry. She went to Parsons and decided to work on her relationship with storytelling. 

Nina got into the world of styling through Kanye West whom she met when she was moving into a new apartment. They formed an organic friendship over their love of fashion and art. He was a great connector and introduced her to a lot of people in the fashion industry. He valued her opinion where she wasn’t yet confident since she was in school and just beginning.

Working as a stylist is not as glamorous as one might think. Most likely, you aren’t wearing heels and you not dressed up. You are basically setting up & breaking down a boutique. Whenever you have a client, you curate a boutique for them, pick from different designers and create a story. In the beginning, you probably don’t have help, so it is you doing the legwork. You often have big trunks and are doing a lot of heavy lifting. One must be really organized and keep track of everything coming in and out. You need to return the item with the upmost care, making sure not a single thread is out of place. 

Nina needed to decide if she was going to sign with a styling agency and take on big styling jobs or if she was going to take the leap and start her own brand. Choosing the name for the brand was something Nina thought a lot about. She used her name because she felt it allows for the freedom towards the story she is going to be telling. 

To find factories and fabrics, Nina asked a lot of people who would either recommend or not recommend companies to work with. Research is also important here. Nina found a consultant firm on Maker’s Row who helped in the beginning. 

In terms of choosing a color palette for collections, the textile agencies are working with Pantone, WGSN & trends of the season way in advance. Designers are able to gauge what colors would be available to you for the season. Nina studied Art History at NYU and therefore is drawn to colors and has an idea of what colors she’d like to have present in the collection. If a color wasn’t available, she would have her own fabric made. 

The most challenging aspect of being a designer is that you have to wear all the hats at the same time. Have to think about how to merchandise the collection as a buyer would, as well as think of fabric choices as a business partner keeping pricing into consideration. 

Her advice for starting a company is to intern as much as possible, ask lots of questions in school, learn as much as you can & put yourself out there. 

@ninatiari

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Fashion Industry Interview with Catherine Smith, Founder + CEO of Plan de Ville | MBA Candidate - Columbia Business School

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