Oh, the first Wednesday of a new month - there always feels like something fresh and special about it and we sure are ready for that new start! With that said, the timing was right to feature the incredibly chic and savvy Nicole Manek for this week's #WorkItWednesday! As a devoted mom, self-proclaimed lifelong "thrifter" and creator of Toronto-born lifestyle & fashion brand life of manek, you'll definitely be saving her tips on your quest to success!
1. First off, tells us about you! Who is Nicole Manek?
I am a costume designer, stylist and I run the online platform life of manek here in Toronto, Canada. I am Mom to a little Leon and I design an accessories and now clothing line made from reclaimed materials and I am the costume designer on Baroness von Sketch. I love the mix of vintage and new, it permeates most of my work and life.
2. We love that your fashion & lifestyle brand, life of manek, is driven by an eco-friendly mission (not to mention we’re currently swooning over those vintage tablecloth blouses!) What has been the most rewarding part about running your business?
When I started life of manek (which was a brick-and-mortar shop on Dundas West for four years), my overall intention wasn't to deliver an eco-friendly message. I'm a lover of vintage and a life long "thrifter." Through running my shop, I became more aware of the "business" of fashion and the waste and carelessness that it can sometimes involve and I wanted to be part of the solution.
The most rewarding part is always the human connection, chatting with people, finding out what they like about what you are creating and how you can improve upon it. I have a lot of experience dressing people and there is nothing more rewarding than making someone feel good about themselves.
3. What’s one thing that surprised you about being an entrepreneur?
I consider myself a creative and what really surprised me was how much I took to the business side of things. Placing and fulfilling orders, figuring out margins, minimizing wastage, I really love that stuff. And numbers, I thought I hated them, but I'm totally into them!
4. What keeps you motivated?
Madonna and Robyn.
5. You have an incredible eye for amazing vintage finds, and given how intimidating some shops can be, we’d call that a unique skill! Any advice on how to determine which pieces make the cut?
Thank you. As I mentioned I am a lifelong thrifter so my ability comes from years and years and years of practice. You have to be open minded when you vintage shop, it's not like mall or online shopping you can't set out to find a specific item. Look for great fabrics and maybe have a running list of a few vintage things you'd like to find on one trip i.e. 90s Levis, a white cotton blouse, a pair vintage heels, a worn in t-shirt, a wool coat, and chances are you will find one, if not more if you tackle it this way. If it makes you feel any better, I have been hunting for a faux leopard coat for YEARS and I only just found the perfect one last month.
6. What are a few staple items that everyone should have in their wardrobes?
A trench coat, a really well-made handbag, a pair of Chelsea boots, hoop earrings, plain silk camisole, great fitting black jeans, super dark sunglasses, a cocktail ring, a jumpsuit and a cashmere turtleneck.
7. Let’s share the love! Who is a person or brand that inspires you and why?
I'm inspired by Melinda Dempster who runs Cactus Sewing Studio. I have had the pleasure of working with Melinda on my designs since day one. It's been amazing to watch her start her own company and see it grow and to grow with it.
Anne Vranic who runs Machina PR is a powerhouse and I admire her innovative strategies and elegant hustle.