Nikola talks fashion business at ‘Startup Grind’

‘STARTUP GRIND’ Namibia got off on a high note last Wednesday when seasoned Namibian fashion designer Nikola Conradie was interviewed on what it means to be in the business of fashion at the National Arts Gallery of Namibia.

The Italian-trained designer spoke about her creative interests as a young child before she finally opted for a career in fashion as a young adult. She spoke about her father’s guidance and support of her passions, saying that she even “watched fashion television with him.”

“When I came back from my studies, I didn’t want to depend on my parents, so my plan was that I needed to make money. I started to keep myself busy and started off by making uniforms,” she said.

In an interview with Emmanuel Simon, who is the Namibian director of ‘Startup Grind’, Conradie talked about the challenges she faces as a fashion designer. “I don’t have any employees. It’s been difficult as I train a lot of people, then they leave, or they can’t work anymore,” she said.

On dealing with people who don’t respect the business and default on payments, Conradie acknowledged that it’s not always smooth sailing to start any business in Namibia. “When I came back to Namibia, the first thing I learnt is that you have to first give, even though you don’t even sleep. I did it for a year and then stopped,” she said about working for exposure or doing free jobs for people, despite putting in so much hard work into her craft.

Innovation, which is the bedrock of all fashion business, comes easy to this young designer. “I’ve been creative since I started school,” she said, adding that up to now, she is constantly creating and tends to overwork herself in the process as not doing so leads to boredom.

Conradie advises upcoming fashion designers to ensure that before getting into the business, they should actually love what they do above all else. “In order to make sure that your company weathers the storms, you have to love fashion. If you love fashion, your business will never die.”

Startup Grind is a network of city-based communities of entrepreneurs, which is globally powered by Google for Entrepreneurs. “We are currently in more than 200 cities in more than 85 countries around the world, with a global community of more than 400 000 entrepreneurs,” Simon told The Namibian.

Every month, each city hosts an event that brings together local entrepreneurs to connect and make friends, find ways to help and learn from each other’s business experiences and get inspired by those who have achieved measurable success in business in various industries. These events are filmed and showcased on local and global platforms, and on YouTube powered by Google.

A number of business professionals, fashion designers and enthusiasts as well as media were present for Conradie’s interview. The next edition of this event is set to take place in January 2017.