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Maven to Know: Nikki Blaine

This Maven decided at age nine that she wanted to be a fashion designer—and she never looked back.
MAVEN TO KNOW

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As a young girl, Nikki Blaine would flip through Ebony magazine and daydream that her designs would one day grace its pages. Sometimes shed even imagine a universe where she modeled for the publication. 

Fast forward to present-day, Blaine is nearly two decades into her career as a fashion designer and business owner. She currently owns Nikki Blaine Couture, a glam chic boutique located in Zionsville. Even though she opened the storefront’s doors in 2011, she started the business from the comfort of her own home in 2005. 

I gravitate to texture, quality, and unique fabrics as my niche,” Blaine says. I focus on special occasion attire, which consists of weddings, proms, birthdays, special events, galas, and holiday seasons. My client typically wants to stand out. I have a very distinctive audience that I cultivate.” 

We sat down with Blaine and discussed how she manifested her childhood dream job, what she learned from her biggest fashion mistake, and the words of wisdom she has for people wanting to refine their personal style. 

Maven superpower: My creativity. I can create something out of nothing.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
What inspired you to start your own clothing line?

When I was a young girl, my passion was to have my own business. I wanted to be well known and to be a fashion designer. So, it’s just a childhood dream that I’m living. I managed to be able to execute my vision from a nine-year-old young girl with an exploratory mind and vision purposes. I love it.

Are all of the pieces in your store handmade by you?

Most of them. It depends on the season. I have a small number of off-the-rack garments, samples from fashion shows, repurposed garments, and original designer pieces for sale. In the back is where you will experience the custom design process. The room is full of fabrics, trims, and notions. 

Tell us about your earliest memory of wanting to design clothes.

As a little kid, I remember thumbing through the Ebony magazine. They have this section that is fashion-oriented, and the Ebony fashion fair would travel around the U.S. It was just a wonderful fashion spread. I remember tearing out those images and just taping them up. So, I just remember gravitating to the Ebony magazine for inspiration and saying that one day they were going to be wearing my clothes or one day I was going to be one of those models. 

You decided you wanted to be a fashion designer pretty early on. Did you ever explore other career paths?   

I considered several of them and uniquely enough, I’ve kind of manifested most of them. I wanted to be a teacher, which I have been at Harrison College in the Art Institute. I also teach private sewing classes. So, that teaching spirit was also embedded in me at an early age. And I’ve managed to do that simultaneously with running my business. I said I wanted to be a lawyer. Now, I did hold back on that desire. But I don’t even know where that came from. I could be very combative if I was a lawyer and will hold my ground. So, I have that spirit in me. And then another thing that I had said I wanted to be was a psychologist. And I consider myself a psychologist of dress.  

As we transition through the fall and winter fashion seasons, what trends will we see? 

Overall, we’re still somewhat minimalist in terms of color. We’re going to see a lot of earth tones in the fall with different pops of either imagery or logos, or just pops of color in the accessories. But for the most part, what we’re wearing will be kind of a neutral palette. We’re still styling and dressing for comfort because we’re in COVID. So, the pandemic has created a significant shift in fashion with athletic leisurewear. 

Where do you draw inspiration from? 

Well, I’m always amazed just browsing the various fashion weeks around the country. I seek inspiration that way. I seek inspiration by just kind of walking in the mall, seeing how people are moving and what theyre wearing. That’s literally what I did yesterday. 

Tell us something people might not know about you. 

I like to dance. I really like to dance. And I’m really a silly, sarcastic person.

What advice do you live by?

Be true to yourself.

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What’s your biggest fashion mistake or mishap that you’ve learned from? 

In the beginning, I was trying to appeal to everybody. I thought showcasing everything I could imagine in fashion shows was a brilliant idea, all my talents and skills! I can do it all! I was a model and a designer. I wanted everybody to be my client.

Now, I reflect and laugh. Ha! Yeah right, not so much now. I have realized my designer style isnt for everybody, nor do I wish to design for everybody. My design style is for an unquestionable type of person, a fashionista who dares to stand out in a crowd.

How would you describe your style? 

My design style is glam chic. It has a distinguished presence, and it can be a bit of a storytelling experience for others to admire. I do not like repeats, but I approve of variations of a particular style or function. I love the fine things in life, so I will naturally gravitate to elegant fabrics and pretty things like rhinestones, beads, lace, satins, leather, and silks. But, I am anointed with an array of creativity for various textiles. 

To speak on my style, I am somewhat of a minimalist with a pop of bespoke in the look. Typically, a bold accessory or something dramatically draping off me. I consider myself an artist, so never mind the antics I may create for myself, but its really about the client for me.  

Give us the lowdown on what goes into making a clothing line. 

Budget; purpose; style and mood boards and sketches; sourcing materials; construction (pattern maker, grading, seamstress); fittings.

If you are considering the industry standard, this cycle will occur six times throughout the year. Spring/summer, resort/cruise, and fall/winter and showcased during fashion week. Since fast fashion has cultivated the fashion game, you are bound to see 52 cycles of fashion lines. There is an introduction of new styles every week. But, due to the pandemic, celebrities, social media influencers, and fashion houses are becoming more conscious of their consumers and less about industry standards of fashion weeks. Some fashion brands are beginning to create individual fashion calendars. This will best meet their needs for the buying power of their consumers.

Overall, a good approach is considering a new line every six months. Unless you are competing in the fast fashion lane. But, most importantly know your customer and do what is best for your brand.

What advice do you have for people who are trying to refine their style?

First and foremost, you want to accentuate the positive attributes. Next, develop six staples pieces you cannot live without, and then build your new style from there. Overall, it depends on the clients personality and style that will shape the entire wardrobe.

Tell us about one of your favorite holiday traditions you’re looking forward to this season. 

One of my favorite holiday traditions is the Nikki Blaine Couture Holiday Sale. This year marks the 10th Anniversary of my boutique in Zionsville. In celebration of my tenure, we will have 10 days of store-busting deals. This will begin during the last week of November and will carry over into the first week of December. 

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