Today we’d like to introduce you to Niki Srinivasa.
Niki, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
When I was younger, I always felt behind the curve in that I, unlike many of my peers, truly didn’t know what that once special thing was that would be my calling. I dabbled in practically everything under the sun but it wasn’t until I was in High School that I discovered my calling: Fashion Design.
Fashion is my biggest passion, and truly what has been what has brought me through a lot of obstacles in my life. I have always been bullied and put down for so many things about myself, and that negativity really did shape how I saw myself for a huge portion of my life. I had always loved fashion, but was too insecure to pursue it or to allow myself to show off my personal style. All of that changed in my junior year of high school when I decided to explore my passion and design and sew my own collection of clothes- that detailed my mom’s life journey and experience in the juxtaposing cultures she was raised in and raised me in. Ever since then, I knew that this was my passion and have worked so hard to get to where I am. It’s because of my hard work, grit and determination to be the best designer I can be.
I have a small sheet of paper that listed out my life goals and things I hoped to accomplish through my life that I made when I was 14 years old. One of the things on the list was 4 letters colored in and bolded: NYFW. And now my dreams are coming true, and I was selected from a pool of over 60,000 designers to showcase which is so incredibly surreal!
The core of my brand is truly creating classic, feminine and unique clothes that are made to fit every woman. To me, style should have no number, and that is the very center of my motivation and design vision. I was never an “average” size growing up, and not finding clothes like my peers got to wear was devastating for me; no one should ever feel ostracized for their body shape and my brand is a celebration of that! I also try to incorporate my own perspective of the world and tell stories of my life and what I see around me into my work. That makes it real. And it makes it personal. Every single piece is handmade by myself and so every piece is unique and special, just like the person who wears them.
I like to think outside the box and dare to do things that haven’t been done before. As a kid I’ve always loved challenging the traditional and expected and questioning everything around me, and that is something that is fundamentally a part of me. And I like to do the same with my designs. The materials I choose are out there but still classic. For example, my upcoming collection features a kimono styled high low leather jacket, pants made of both a denim and a linen and even a tweed and leather puff sleeve jacket. It’s unexpected, but for me I would not have it any other way.
Since I’m 19, I don’t have a developed team just yet. But I believe in myself wholeheartedly to keep growing and keep pursuing my unique designs and let my voice as a designer soar. I want people knowing that a 19 year old is capable of creating fashion that any and every woman can wear; my clothes are classic, feminine and flattering to the body and are made to make girls and women feel absolutely beautiful!
I truly want to positively impact the fashion industry- to create beautiful and classic, yet on-trend clothing for every woman and every body type, because style has no number.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It definitely has not been a smooth road in any capacity. I have struggled a lot, and in many different ways. I have dealt with bullying since I was a kid and it unfortunately did not stop even well into high school, where girls were so cruel, and not even in College, where I just finished my freshman year. This constant negativity and hurtfulness directed at me both really impacted my mental health but also my own perception of myself. I found myself consistently in emotionally abusive friend relationships, but eventually I realized that a lot of why I ended up in such circumstances was because I didn’t have the self-esteem to realize I deserved more. And that translated into my not believing in my dreams and abilities to achieve those dreams; I knew what I wanted, but consistently projected the negativity that was being thrown at me into negative thoughts about and actions towards myself. I had a wakeup call when my mom pointed out that- I have the power to require respect in my relationships, and if I wanted it then it was up to me to realize that I deserved it. Once I finally started to believe in myself and build myself up, I noticed how much better things could be for me.
Even though my self-belief has been paramount for my getting to where I am now, once I crossed the border between self-hate and entered into self-love, I realized that even then there were tons of obstacles in the way of my getting to my dream, and I’m still navigating the waters on those. I have never had access to the resources that are frankly necessary to keep climbing up in the fashion industry- whether it was finances or education and everything in between, if I wanted to keep moving forward, I had to find a way to do it on my own. When I was learning to sew, I had to seek that knowledge from YouTube or find classes I could go to in the community, and that’s exactly what I did. I come from a family heavily based in science, so anything I’ve done and anything I have learned has truly come from my own desire to grow and my passion for what I do. There aren’t words to express how passionate I am about fashion or how much I want to be the best designer I can possibly be. And now, being selected to show at New York Fashion Week, I can see how my goals are starting to turn into realities.
I have a small sheet of paper that listed out my life goals and things I hoped to accomplish through my life that I made when I was 14 years old. One of the things on the list was 4 letters colored in and bolded: NYFW. It is so incredibly surreal that that dream is now real. It has been a test of persistence for sure, but it only has made me realize how much I truly do appreciate the journey and how it makes getting to where I am so much more gratifying. And, I can’t wait to keep working hard to persevere into what the future holds for me.
Please tell us about Niki Srinivasa.
My company is Niki Srinivasa, and it is a namesake clothing brand. I am the founder, creative director and head designer, but really, I am entirely on my own with my collections in that I’m the designer, producer, PR and everything all wrapped up in one. I don’t have a team just yet so I manage everything, with the help of my amazing mom, and the support of my family! I hope to gain a team for sure- I’ve been talking to some managers who could help me out in the PR side of things and eventually, person-by-person, hope to build a full-fledged company. But for me, I’ll always be a fashion designer and head designer for my brand; it’s my passion and what I love to do!
I would say I’m definitely known mostly for my experiential approach to fashion and design; I like to really experiment with silhouette and fabric combinations to create innovative designs that are exciting and different, but that also are very flattering to the figure and would look good on anyone.
I’m proud of myself for getting this far- for establishing myself as a designer and force in the industry, but also for building a brand, as a 19 year old, that serves to embrace and celebrate body positivity and diversity- something that has been missing from the industry for so long.
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
If I were to start over, I would try to take risks much sooner than I did in reality, and trust myself to do what was in my heart. I spent so long trying to force myself to fit into a square and do things traditionally both out of fear of failing and of putting myself out there, but also because I did not have the confidence to stand up to my parents and family to prove that I knew what I wanted for myself. I would have taken the leap and truly would have begun my journey sooner, if I were to do everything over again!
- Ready to wear Streetwear prices range from: $25-$125
- Ready to wear High End prices range from: $85-$985
- Couture/Gown prices range from: $3,000-10,000
- Website: www.nikisrinivasa.com
- Phone: 8056309053
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/nikisrinivasa