We introduced you to ethical fashion label milo + nicki making sexy sustainable women’s wear. Today meet founder & green entrepreneur Nicki who’s breaking the glass ceiling in more ways than one!
- Woman driving sustainability- an inspiring story of women empowerment & motivating change
- Breaking stereotypes of sustainable fashion with her sexy & sophisticated designs
- Teamed up with her beloved pup Milo to form power duo behind the milo + nicki
Need we say more? We welcome Nicki for an exclusive chat with UrbanMeisters as this firebrand green entrepreneur tells us all- her dreams, hopes, vision & inspirations behind this special start-up. Catch invaluable founder tips on how to set up an eco fashion label & trade secrets that you won’t find any where else! Here’s to sustainable change & women’s empowerment!
Hello Nicki! Welcome to UrbanMeisters! Tell us the story of milo+nicki- how did it all started?
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 spiraled 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 realize 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 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.
Milo and I 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. Our goal is to bring that same happiness, confidence, and authenticity to the others all over the world.
With the love that we share to those closest to us, and the passion for the longevity of our health and 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 color, I hope to empower others to do the same.
As a responsible green entrepreneur how do you ensure 100% transparency and sustainability in your supply chain?
Transparency is a pretty big deal at milo+nicki. It is one of our core values because we love hard and care deeply about our planet and the people. From where we source our fabric, how it is produced, who touches the fabric in the entire process, and how the pieces are manufactured is something we are super nosey about. And we don’t mind it. This allows us to ensure that everyone and everything that is impacted by what we are creating is respected and cares just as deeply about our planet and the people as we do.
Transparency also flows into the true costs to make each piece, and we feel it is really important to keep it real with our consumers. Below is an image of the true cost breakdown to produce the milano dress from our first collection.
As far as transparency in the supply chain goes:
- Our fabric is made-to-order and handwoven in India through a distributor who provides certification to confirm authenticity, sustainability metrics, and fair trade measures. The artisans that produce the fabric receive fair wages, a safe workplace, and sustainable living
- Our natural dyer is locally based and only uses all natural, plant based indigo for the dye process.
- Our screen printer is locally based and only uses non-toxic, no phthalates and formaldehyde free, natural water-based dyes.
- Our small-batch manufacturing factories are all in NY and share the same vision for social and environmental responsibility as we do.
Who are your female sustainability idols who inspire you while working on milo+nicki?
As a green entrepreneur, I feel like I get inspired by and learn from everyone I meet in the sustainable and ethical fashion world from the bloggers, designers, advocates, to the activists. The community is so welcoming and share so many inspiring stories and backgrounds. It is hard not to have more than one idol.
A few women I look up to are:
- Gloria Steinmen (I guess more as a feminist, although she does believe in sustainable living),
- Greta Eagan – writer of “Wear No Evil: How to Change the World with Your Wardrobe” (Must read: available here),
- Valeria Hinojosa (conscious lifestyle and eco-travel blogger @waterthruskin),
- Kathryn Hilderbrand- founder of Good Apparel and Good Clothing Company, and
These women have had an imprint on my journey, but a lot of my initial influence for my brand and first collection came from my family. I feel like as I immerse myself in more knowledge and experiences, I am growing as a green entrepreneur and learning constantly about the sustainable and ethical fashion world.
What is your vision for milo+nicki?
I believe that the opportunities are endless and I am so excited to begin my journey as a green entrepreneur 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 color 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.
In your opinion as an eco-fashion business owner, how can we make more people more embrace eco fashion?
Education is key, a major spotlight and pressure on fast fashion brands to be transparent is crucial, and the power of the consumer is inevitable. These 3 points are the deciding factors for shifting the perception of sustainable and ethical fashion, bringing it to a larger audience, and creating a movement.
- The fashion industry is the second largest pollutant in the world, just behind the oil and gas industry. It is saturated by corruption and pollution with stories that never hit the newsstands.
- What we wear is something more than a piece of cloth. It has history, meaning, roots, sweat, and tears. The sacrifices in each piece of cloth is an untold story and we like many brands hope to bring these hidden truths to the surface and build an awareness that drives the ethical and sustainable fashion movement, but the key is education.
- Sharing how something is made, where it is made, who it is made by, and why we made it that way is crucial for us to live a sustainable life not as just people, but as a civilization by adding meaning, people, and purpose behind what we wear. The longevity of what we wear goes beyond a piece of clothing, it is a strong determinant for how our ecosystem works as well.
In North America, consumers are buying and getting rid of 5x as much clothing as we did 25 years ago (Elizabeth Cline, Overdress: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion), with a staggering 85% of our apparel ending up in landfills (over 10.5 million tons of clothing).
The reason this number is so terrifying is the vast majority of these quick trend pieces that end up in landfills are created from synthetic fibers that don’t biodegrade, but instead release toxins and chemicals as they sit in huge piles that seep into the ground and waterways.
These synthetic fibers are used due to the demand for trendy and quick production because natural fibers require a little more effort due to cyclical patterns for farming. On top of the non-biodegradable fibers is the added pollutant of synthetic dyes and chemicals used to create the color and prints of the pieces. These not only pollute the earth during production, they seep into our skin with wear, seep into our waterways with washing, and live out their lives in landfills once we are over wearing them. The clothing not only effects the planet, but it effects the people as well.
Majority of fast fashion (quick trendy pieces) are created for consumers who want the straight from catwalk look. With the growing number of these consumers, brands are pressured to produce quickly with the lowest retail pricing possible to match competition. This creates an unethical structure because these brands are competing internationally for the cheapest labor and quickest turnaround leading to child labor, abusive workplace conditions, and unlivable wages. As demand keeps growing, the cycle never ends.
Our goal is to educate, empower, and inspire change. We as consumers hold the power for change, we just have to decide with our dollar what we value.
UrbanMeisters founder Mirela Orlovic too believes that power to change lies with us consumers and shows that it’s really possible to build an eco-friendly but stylish wardrobe in this comprehensive 3 tip guide.
What’s your opinion on ‘sustainability’ initiatives by fast fashion giants like H&M Conscious Collection etc. Real deal or green washing?
Green washing is more common than we think, especially when it comes to the ‘big dogs,’ fast fashion giants. It is becoming more predominant because now brands and companies are using it is a marketing tactic rather than an initiative or movement for good. I feel like some brands are trying, but I don’t know the real depth of how much they are actually doing the things they promise.
The key, as a consumer, is being curious, asking questions, finding out who made your clothes, how it was made, where it was made, what it is made of, and doing something with your answers. Knowledge is power, and power is change. If more consumers had the knowledge, I feel these fashion houses would probably be in deep water.
What’s your advice for fellow women aspiring to be green entrepreneurs?
Listen to your gut and follow your heart. Always remember that: no dream is too big, no passion is too small, and no routine is unbreakable. I actually feel like this applies to any woman in any industry.
There are always going to be those nay-sayers or doubters trying to bring you down, but don’t listen, they don’t matter. If you believe in something bigger, something different, or want to do something no one has ever imagined possible, do it. You are your only limitation. Just remember that the journey is never easy so stay persistent, think positively, have faith, and envision the bigger picture with you reaching your end goal. This will lead you to unimaginable places.
Any everyday green living tips for our readers?
A few green tip I use every day:
- Always use a reusable/refillable water bottle – no plastic! Not only is plastic not good for the planet, it isn’t good for us. When it sits in heat or is used repeatedly, it releases toxins that have been linked to cancer.
- I like to use only glass-wear in the kitchen because it leaves less waste to possibly be recycled and hopefully not end up in landfills. Reduce and reuse, right?
- I love to run outdoors – despise gyms. I run outdoors every day and it is not only a great way to be one with nature, but it is refreshing to see, feel, and breathe the world around you.
- I am huge on taking notes because I seriously have the worst memory. Instead of using and wasting tons of paper, I take notes on my phone or iPad.
- BYOB. When I am out shopping for groceries, I always bring my own bags. It’s not only good for the planet, but it’s good for the wallet because places in Texas are starting to charge for bags.
Thank you Nicki for chatting with us! UrbanMeisters you can support milo+ nicki crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter here. Follow their journey on social channels, and help by spreading their campaign and story.
And Nicki has a special offer for all UrbanMeisters readers who show their love! Get a $29 Zero-waste charm for free! Here’s how:
Pledge $139 or more PLUS share our project via social and tag us (@milonicki @urbanmeisters for Instagram and Facebook, @milonicki_ @urbanmeisters for Twitter) with hashtags #weareunstoppable #pawsforchange #urbanmeisters
Get a $29 zero-waste charm for FREE
Here’s how you can reach milo+nicki
- Kickstarter Link: http://bit.ly/weareunstoppable
- Website: http://www.milonicki.com
- Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/milonicki/
- Twitter: http://twitter.com/milonicki_
- Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/milonicki/
- Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/milonicki/
Support a good cause UrbanMeisters- of women entrepreneurs driving sustainability and eco fashion that breaks the ceiling!
#TheFutureIsFemale ! Don’t believe us? Meet these other two women driving sustainability in fashion & lifestyle choices in their own way!
1. Cool & Conscious Hijabi Sarah who talks of sustainable Islamic wear
2. Dr Genieve Burley taking on the world, 1 disposable cup at a time!