January 13, 2009
client karma – nixxi
It was late summer 2007, right around when I had been laid off of my part time sales help job in Yorkville. I had had just enough small side projects to tide me over on top of my 20 hours a week, but not enough to give me the confidence to take on full-time freelancing.
Then I got my first big project for Nixxi, an eco-conscious line out of Salt Spring Island, British Columbia. Jada-lee, the designer, had seen my illustrations for my grad collection on Flickr and wanted something similar for her line sheets. It was a big project and I wasn’t experienced enough to quote a flat rate so we did it by the hour. Jada-lee was organized and enthusiastic and it remains one of my most favourite projects to date. It gave me the confidence to stop looking for a job and start building my own business in earnest.
I was able to see some of Nixxi’s garments when I visited Karma Wear in Ottawa, where the salesgirls raved about the butter-soft bamboo wrap dresses – apparently one customer had selected the dress as a wedding dress. The designs are simple, the fabrics feel lovely, and the vibe is active, artistic and aware. Since then Nixxi has added a number of new stockists, including Green is Black and Heart On Your Sleeve in Toronto.
I asked Jada-lee a few questions about her life as a designer and entrepreneur.
Why did you choose to become a fashion designer?
I’ve always loved lines, textures and color. Any spare moment I had in highschool was spent in the art room. I also loved cruising the thrift stores to find the gems.. and would alter pieces to make them my own. I began sewing clothing for fun and selling at our local artisan market.. and my entry in to the fashion industry has grown from there.
What do you like about being a fashion designer?
Fabrics! I am excited and inspired by the hand of a new fabric sample. Sometimes you might find me jumping up and down in my kitchen (..my office) when opening the envelope of a suppliers sample package. It might be that electric shade of blue in a lightweight organic cotton/bamboo jersey that shouts out the first inspirations of a new design. I love fabrics, I love design, I love clothes.. and I love that I get to do this for a living!
How do you balance your family life with your role as an entrepreneur?
Balance, what is that? 🙂 Family and fashion is my life… and I make it work. My husband is super supportive… I couldn’t do what I do without him. Working from home allows me to always be here for my kids.. and when we take Nixxi on the road to the various shows and festivals, we go as a family. My girls have even inspired me to do a kids line that will be launched this summer… just in time for some more festival fun.
What would you say is the the greatest misconception about your work?
That it is glamorous and easy. Working in fashion is more than a full time job.. and if you have your own line, the majority of your time is spent running a business.
The greatest challenge?
Finding enough hours in the day to do everything.
The greatest reward?
I love seeing clothes that I created from the first initial design inspiration go through the process to becoming a finished garment that is loved by it’s wearer. When a girl tries on one of my garments and she looks hot and looks at herself and loves it, it gives me so much pride. Making clothes that make people feel good is a huge reward.