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Meet Nikki Poles of J Allen Inspired in Chino Hills

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nikki Poles.

Nikki, before we jump into specific questions about your business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I am a true believer of if there is something I can’t find then maybe I can create it myself.  My family and I moved from NJ to Upstate NY, my husband had taken a position where he was now going to be in business attire every day. His suits and ties would now be a standard uniform for him. While out shopping for him I thought maybe some bow ties would be an updated look to his way of dressing.

My husband is very particular in that he deals in comfort more than being stylish. I didn’t let that deter me, I went ahead and bought a few bow ties, very simple ones nothing too crazy. To my surprise, he agreed to try out a few. Well, when I saw him in the bow tie I fell in love with the look. He looked so dapper and so very handsome.

What also helped to further my interest into possibly creating a business, as he had gone out of town for a huge meeting and when he returned to Upstate NY from Atlanta someone was trying to locate the guy in the bow tie in athletics. With that I had my 1st “maybe I am on to something here” for changing up his look. I set out to purchase more, or so I thought, of bow ties because he was going to be “the guy in the bow tie in athletics”. In most colleges, the men in the athletics department are not normally dressed up but that didn’t sway me.

I’m not really one to follow the rules. Long story short, when I went shopping to find him new bow ties and I didn’t have much luck. I kept finding the same boring and ordinary bow ties. What I was hoping to find were fun, colorful, unique, and make you want to wear them all the time bow ties. After a few failed trips to different stores, I gave up on the search. My mind began to race with ideas. Within that thought process, I began to think if I can’t find what I want, I’ll create it!

My entrepreneurial spirit kicked and I was off to the store. First things first, I didn’t own a sewing machine so I headed to the local craft & hobby store to purchase one. While I was there I’d need to get the fabric as well. There was one last thing I needed to figure out and let’s just say it was probably the most important aspect of this project, I had to learn how to sew! Yep, I didn’t know how to use a sewing machine or even how to properly stitch anything together. Well, I could sew a button on a shirt with needle and thread but this was a whole other adventure.

I didn’t let my lack of knowledge deter me. I thought to myself I could figure it out, it can’t be that hard. Well was I in for a surprise! It wasn’t that it was hard it was just so foreign to me and there’s the part that I hate reading directions. I approach directions on how I approach my life, I throw out the playbook and figure things out on my own.

I deconstructed one of the bow ties I had previously purchased for me husband, started cutting & sewing or so I thought. My thread kept bunching the fabric kept pulling, you name it it was going down between that sewing machine and I. I kept cutting more, trying to sew more and becoming increasingly frustrated. After 2 days of creating some shapes that were similar to bow ties but not what I pictured in my head, I headed back to that craft to figure out what was wrong with the machine. After chatting with the customer service rep I quickly learned their machine was perfectly fine and it was me. The young lady told me what I was doing or better yet what I wasn’t, hahaha!

Once I fixed my glitch I kicked things into high gear! You couldn’t keep me out of the fabric store, I was in there every chance I got which turned into my favorite obsession. The mornings kind of went like this, kids off to school, stop by my favorite coffee chain for my morning tea latte and off to the fabric store which equals my happy place.

I fell in love with all of the fabrics, the colors, the textures, the prints! I would buy all sorts of different fabrics and test them out with my sewing machine. What I was doing was really educating myself, this was a world that I threw myself into and there was no stopping. I loved it. I purchased fun crazy prints and made bow ties for my husband. He wore them and looked fabulous, I think he was meant to wear bow ties and I couldn’t have been more thrilled that I made it for him and he wore them.

My husband is a pretty low key guy, pretty chill but a pain to get him to wear something other than a blue shirt. So imagine my excitement when he agreed that he would wear the bow ties! Being that his attire was not fussy at all, I decided I would love for him to have a little edge to his look, he doesn’t wear jewelry, not a watch not even his wedding ring. I remember thinking a cool bow tie would be a great conversation piece. As luck would have it, his position required him to have lots of conversations.

I remember I had bought a tootsie roll wrapper print fabric, I thought it was quirky and different. Made a sweet (no pun intended) bow tie out of that fabric. Here we were at the start of the football season and he wears the tootsie roll wrapper print bow tie. Let’s just say it elicited a huge response, I actually wasn’t expecting anything. Everyone loved his bow tie, this guy even stopped him to give him 2 tootsie pops that he pulled out of his pocket. That was hilarious, what were the odds that someone would have tootsie pops in their pockets, run into my husband & then share their candy? Wild!

I loved the smiles and conversations that the bow ties started to generate. I continued to create more fun, colorful and edgy pieces. Every bow tie I’ve created from the beginning of this adventure has been made with integrity and passion. To this day that has not changed. I love what I do & I continue to show that in the products I create.

I’m forever inspired by so much around me, looking forward to expanding & adding more soon.

Has it been a smooth road?
The road was definitely not paved. Well, for starters I really had no idea how to sew, nevertheless construct bow ties. No one to teach me and I decided that I was just going to do this!

Starting a business in a very small city where I was brand new to, still learning places and things was a challenge in itself.

A woman designing and manufacturing men’s accessories. I would always get the question “why men’s accessories?” I would also get the looks and stares that they questioned if I knew what I was doing. Here’s this girl with no design or fashion background and she’s started a men’s fashion line.

One of my biggest struggles had been really just doing it all. When you see me you see J Allen Inspired, from design to production to marketing to manufacturing, it’s all me!

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the J Allen Inspired story. Tell us more about the business.
I specialize in handmade men’s accessories such as bow ties, pocket squares, lapel flowers just to name a few.

I’m known for my bow ties that are fun, different and edgy. The bow ties that I create are show stoppers and definitely conversation starters.

I’m proud of the fact that I wanted to do something different and I just went for it. Jumped into a realm that I didn’t know much about but didn’t let that deter me.

My products are not massed produced, I customize over 90% of my creations, this allows my clients to mix and match different pieces they have to create other variations, they are truly 1 of a kind pieces.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
I see the industry continuously growing. Maybe a little more cutting edge when it comes to accessories for men.

In the past, I feel like when it came to men’s fashion it was always a bit limited. The shift in men’s wear will continue to push the limits.

People are ever-evolving and so is fashion, I plan on being a part of the evolution!

Contact Info:


Image Credit:

Ana Gil Taylor, Drew Osumi, Nikki Poles

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1 Comment

  1. Rosemarie Nelson

    October 9, 2019 at 15:23

    And, those bow ties are NOT just for men! I’m a big fan of getting out of the box and adding a bow tie to my outfit makes for a very FUN event! Try it, yourself!

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