Milo + Nicki
Milo+Nicki is a cruelty-free, ethically-designed womenswear line with Indian & Zambian roots, designed in Austin, Texas. Their main aim is to empower the ‘ever-evolving woman to conquer her fears, take a leap of faith, never give up on herself, and live a life of colour’. Nicki believes that clothing isn’t just a piece of cloth, instead, each piece has a history and a meaning from the people who made it.
The aspect of transparency and cruelty-free within milo+nicki was something I was completely astounded by. In every possible area of creating a garment, Nicki has done her research and found the best possible solution to all the ‘easy to bypass’ issues to the point where it fully encompasses her brand.
Environmentally: They aim to leave as little impact as possible on the ecosystem. All products are made to order, meaning the amount of waste produced is very minimal.
Labour wise: Each worker is paid a fair wage, ensured a safe workplace and have a sustainable lifestyle both locally and abroad.
Fabric: The fabric is made to order and hand-loomed. The silk is certified Ahimsa silk (peace silk which is created with zero harm to any worms in the process) and the cotton is GOTS certified organic.
Dyes: They only use 100% plant-based dyes for the entire collection, meaning that no toxins or chemicals are released to the environment -something that dramatically impacts the life of humans, animals and the environment. For more info on this check out River Blue. Any additional printing is done by screen printing, with non-toxic, no phthalates and formaldehyde free, natural water-based dyes.
Packaging: Everything from the clothing labels and the hangtags through to the mailers is 100% recyclable, biodegradable and environmentally friendly.
They have literally thought of it all and I couldn’t be more impressed and inspired.
Behind the Brand:
An interview with Nicki, the founder of Milo + Nicki.
What did you have for breakfast this morning?
You aren’t going to believe me because I eat a lot of food for breakfast! I eat a huge
Indian breakfast every morning, but my morning ritual always starts with warm water, lemon and honey. My breakfast today consisted of homemade chai, homemade
My breakfast today consisted of homemade chai, homemade chevro (snack mix), homemade breakfast biscuits, and homemade purees (hard to explain, but a flat crispy pit chip-like consistency Indian food).
What made you start Milo+Nicki?
My name is Nicki and my partner-in-crime is the handsome, crazy energetic stud pup, Milo. We are an energetic, indomitable duo that love hard and care deeply about people and the planet. Our lives have been full of highs and lows (especially in health), evolving bodies, and many life struggles, but we have never skipped a beat on lifting each other up.
But first, let’s rewind.
Milo (my pup) and I both hit rock bottom in 2014. The combination of our health problems, Milo having a major injury, and a very stressful burglary that spiralled us both downward, we begin to slowly feel the floor crumble beneath us. And no doctor or specialist had a remedy. I lived in fear of not knowing what the next day, hour, or minute held for us. In our pursuit to grow stronger and healthier, we both turned to our roots. Family
and love became our medicine. It is here I began to understand the delicate relationship between our bodies, the environment, and our health.
Plus, I began to realise the impacts of societal pressures and life changes females face on a day-to-day as I struggled to commute from New Braunfels to Austin, work full-time, maintain my health, and keep loyal to a company that didn’t value my hard work. The company gave me an ultimatum that wasn’t an option or choice. But, I chose to make my health a priority and left the position. This became my focus for change.
By combining our health rollercoaster with my love for fashion, my mission to empower women, and my drive to bring awareness to a deep-rooted destructive consumer industry, I came to create milo+nicki.
It’s been a crazy ride! But, the love that we share to those closest to us, and the passion for the longevity of our world, remain at the forefront of our lives. We will always be about the journey, and never the destination. And as we conquer our fears, take a leap of faith, never give up on ourselves, and live a life full of colour, I hope to empower others to do the same.
What has been the most challenging thing you have uncovered since beginning Milo+Nicki?
With entrepreneurship in any industry, there is a tonne of highs and lows. This is what makes the journey so exciting and honestly, what I love. It keeps you learning, adapting, and growing while exploring places you have never been.
On this journey thus far, the biggest roadblock has been within product development and it is sourcing the perfect fabric. Not only is the sustainable fabric supply and demand small (super sad, but true) especially domestically, but it is also overly polluted with false pretences of being eco-friendly, sustainable or ethically made.
With transparency as one of our core values and a love for very rare fibres, it was a huge struggle for our brand. I also had the unfortunate experience of losing my fabric supplier multiple times in this first collection (a process that had taken me previously 7-8 months). I came to the point where a month before I had previously planned to launch, I was without a supplier.
I searched high and low, had a few major mental and physical breakdowns, and spent weeks back and forth 5 a.m emails in Mandarin to suppliers in China. I finally found the perfect supplier who shares my same vision for ethical, transparent production of fabrics while ensuring fair wages and safe workplaces for all employees. Plus, they are based in India (home sweet home).
Although the journey of finding my perfect fabric supplier was a long and quite stressful one, it made the process so much sweeter and has allowed me to grow and learn in ways I never imagined. It is definitely bittersweet.
What is one tip you would give to someone starting out in entrepreneurship?
This may not be technically a tip, but I feel like it is important to any entrepreneur in any industry. Always remember that: no dreams are too big, no passion is too small, and no routine is unbreakable.
Entrepreneurship is tough, especially solo-preneurship. But you started this journey because you believe in something bigger, something different, or something no one has ever imagined possible.
Remember that even though the journey is never easy, staying persistent, thinking
positively, and imaging the bigger picture with your end goal as the mission and it will always lead you to unimaginable places.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Starting this journey only a little over a year ago, I have received tonnes of amazing advice from so many people. The one piece of advice that I literally have sticky-noted to my laptop screen is “what would you do if it didn’t have to be perfect?”. It is more related to my journey right now, and madness with the launch, but I feel like it applies to all areas of life especially for a perfectionist like myself. Sometimes we get so caught up in the details, we lose sight of what is most important, and this helps me stay grounded (of course, Milo keeps me super grounded as well) while focused on what I want to ultimately accomplish.
What is one book you think everybody should read?
This is awful, but I haven’t read a new book in a while. I can’t think of a really good book. I am really loving my podcasts right now, especially since it is so much easier to multitask while listening to a podcast. My favourite podcasts are Conscious Chatter and Ted Talks.
Where do you envision Milo+Nicki in the future?
I believe that the opportunities are endless and I am so excited to begin this journey and see where it takes us. I would love to be inspiring and empowering women globally through our story and journey as well as our collections. I want our pieces to be more than just another garment in your wardrobe. I want it to be a part of your story and hold stories that can be shared with generations to come. The collections I create, I hope continue to empower and inspire women to live a life full of colour while driving the ethical and sustainable fashion movement. When we do good, we feel good. I hope we continue to live with purpose and inspire change.
What inspires you to do what you do on a daily basis?
Love and passion. I began this journey to make a difference in this world while loving what I do every single day. Life is too short to live in what-ifs. If you envision it, do it. If you believe it, achieve it. You are your only limitation.
What does your everyday morning look like?
I am totally not a morning person and I love to sleep. But my mornings are very routine because Milo has a very strict schedule with his health problems. I wake up at 7 AM to give him his probiotic, and then we fall back asleep. Then wake up again at 8 AM for a quick trip outdoors and his breakfast. Since this solo-preneurship has been a wild one, I either fall back asleep if I went to bed super late, or hit the ground running. Right now, we really are operating a 7-day go-go schedule with our launch so there are no sleep-in Saturdays or Sundays.
Are there any other Movers and Shakers out there in your world that you think people should know about?
Valeria Hinojosa of Waterthruskin and Kestrel Jenkins of Left Edit and Conscious Chatter. Just like the clothing I wear, I love people with deep stories. These boss babes truly care about our planet, celebrate individuality and diversity, and want to build a greater and united community thriving on sustainable and holistic living. Both ladies are amazing and truly inspirational!