Taking a less conventional route into fashion design, Nikki De Marchi has focused her extraordinary design skills on making women look and feel good in bikinis. Founded in 2013, the brand ‘Nikki De Marchi’ has become known for swimwear that is bold, beautiful, and ready for adventure, like the women who wear it. Not just slim, athletic women though; Nikki firmly believes that everyone has the right and ability to look as good as they feel, so read on to discover more about her fantastic line of women-enhancing swimwear, how she has become so successful and why she thinks women are naturally suited to being entrepreneurs.
What made you want to take the plunge into bikini design and did you face any hurdles when you were first getting started?
You say you are a ‘lifetime beach girl’, do you think this has been helpful when injecting personal style and passion into your collections?
I think when you grow up somewhere with a strong beach culture, like I did in Australia, swimwear becomes an important part of your wardrobe. It’s this idea of swimwear as fashion that I bring to my own brand. You won’t see many plain colours or timeless styles in my collections because I am constantly innovating with prints shapes, and embellishments to create something that is unique and fun!
You have deliberately steered clear of the traditional ‘super skimpy’ Brazilian bikini styles, were you conscious of creating a range that all women, regardless of body type, would want to wear?
You know, one of the wonderful things about Brazilian women is that they they’re not afraid to show off their bodies, regardless of shape or size. They think being a woman is enough! It’s true that not everyone is comfortable wearing ‘barely there’ bikinis, so in creating my range it was important to strike the the right balance between swimwear that feels sexy and yet still feels comfortable. All of my designs are cut to give the perfect amount of coverage – not too little and not too much.
Do you believe that fashion can truly cover all aspects of wear: style, function and comfort? How have you actively tried to envelop all of these into your collections?
Absolutely! I grew up surfing, so I have a very intimate appreciation of how swimwear should fit and perform in the water. I also love to kite-surf and often travel to far-flung beach destinations so I am constantly testing my own products. When I design I think about all of these things not only what the bikinis look like, but also how they feel to wear, how they hold their colour and shape over time, as well as the tan lines they leave behind.
Your designs are so unique and feature beautiful, bespoke prints, is that how you stay ahead of your competition?
For me designing prints is a way of making a statement. A woman who wears prints is someone who is not afraid to stand out from the crowd and like Harry Winston once said “people will stare, make it worth their while”.
You’ve had some spectacular press coverage, since starting in 2013. Have you been shocked at how quickly your popularity has risen?
I’m thrilled by the response so far because it means that people like what I’m doing! The highlight for me was seeing the yellow ‘Poseidon’ bikini (pictured below) from my Resort 2015 collection in Tatler UK, alongside swimwear from Dolce & Gabbana, Missoni and Stella McCartney. I never dreamed that one day I would see my designs sharing the page with such talented designers.
Did you have any business qualifications when you first started the company or did you begin with an idea and go from there?
I had an MBA from INSEAD and ten years experience as a corporate strategy consultant, so you could say I had the business side covered. However, as a self-taught designer I had no formal qualifications other than a short course at Central St Martins in fashion illustration. The reality is that nothing really prepares you for starting your own company. Suddenly I had to do everything from sketching designs, sourcing suppliers, raising funds, building a website, writing press releases and fulfilling orders. If anything, I think the best qualification for being an entrepreneur is being a woman, because we are such great multi-taskers.
Do you think that women are still overlooked in the business world? If so, what can we do to make ourselves stand out?
I think women are less confident about the value they bring to the business world, which in turn makes it easier for them to be overlooked. When I studied for my MBA, the most important thing I learned was to be confident in my own skills and experience. I was competing with three hundred brilliant and talented peers, so my unique strengths and weaknesses became very clear, very quickly. Once you figure that out, it becomes easy to make yourself stand out. Play to your strengths and stop trying to fix your weaknesses!
What has been the best piece of advice you’ve been given in your journey as an entrepreneur?
“If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late”. No matter how great your idea is or how hard you try to get it right first time, it will never be perfect. The very best thing you can do is get your product or concept out there as soon as possible and test it with real customers, because you won’t know what’s wrong about it until people start using it.
If you could go back to 2013, when you were about to start your company, what advice would you give yourself?