DESIGNER: NINA MEANS
WHY DO YOU CALL AUSTIN HOME
Home is where you make it. I’m a North Carolina native by way of a few pit stops before arriving to the Austin area. My husband and I moved here about a year and a half ago for his career. We really loved how this place reminded us of where we grew up.
FAVORITE SONG/ARTIST/ALBUM FOR A SPARK OF CREATIVITY
I love anything from Beyonce – she just understands what ambitious women are feeling. I also love to listen to Christian music because I feel that it connects me to the ultimate Creator while I work. It keeps me focused on why I do what I do.
BIGGEST DEBATE OF ALL: COFFEE or TEA, BE SPECIFIC ;)
Coffee all day! I love it in the many ways it comes – espresso, Americano, pour over, French press. If there was only coffee, I would be perfectly happy. Well… except on sick days, then tea wins.
WHO DO YOU FOLLOW FOR INSTAGRAM INSPIRATION
I follow @yvonneorji because she is always up to something. I find inspiration from doers, and she is ALWAYS doing something. She reminds me to put down my phone and go make something happen #irl!
GO TO MID-DAY SNACK or ROUTINE FOR CREATIVE FUEL
My go-to mid-day snack would be cheese, grapes and crackers. I love fresh fruit – it gives me a little sugar without the guilt and I don’t crash after.
For creative fuel, I drop everything and go to my dress form and drape a garment that has nothing to do with the line. I don’t worry about over designing it, or who will wear it. I just let the fabric be my guide and see what new ideas come to life.
WHERE DO YOU DESIGN BEST? EX: HOME, STUDIO, NATURE, ETC.
I design best at home. It’s where I have my studio – it’s nice to have a comfortable space to create.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO BEGIN THE NINA MEANS ADVENTURE
My adventure to create my Nina Means label began out of necessity. As I mentioned, we moved here for an opportunity for my husband, but I still loved to do what I did in our last home (New Jersey/NYC), which was design women’s apparel for H by Halston and other brands. Since I had learned so much from the business, I decided my best chance to continue was to start my own. I’m so glad I did because it’s opened a lot of doors.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST EXCITING MOMENT SO FAR OF NINA MEANS
My most exciting moment was when I was nominated and awarded the 2017 Rising Star of the Year for Fashion Design from Fashion Group International of San Antonio. That was a huge honor that came so unexpectedly.
HOW DO YOU MAKE SURE YOUR BRAND STANDS OUT
I try to make my brand stand out by connecting with my customer. I love sharing inspirational quotes that speak to women of ambition. I also have found that I very much enjoy getting out to pop-up shops to speak with customers directly. I get to hear from them directly and what’s working for them. Also, the styling of my brand is a little different than the existing Austin vibe – a little bit more on the minimal side. So I think that’s helped me stand a part from what is already available.
WHO HAS HAD THE MOST CREATIVE INFLUENCE ON YOUR LIFE
My grandmother and my mom have had the most creative influence on my life. My grandmother is a fantastic seamstress. She made clothes for my mom and her sisters that you would want to wear right now. My mom is a ceramicist and painter, and I know that has had an effect on my work.
HOW HAS SOCIAL HELPED YOUR BRAND
Social media has made the impossible, possible. It is available as much as you have the energy to create, which is so unique to the time in which we live. The net neutrality debate was of some concern and how that would effect small businesses like mine, but overall – social has had a wonderful effect to help me reach places beyond my local area.
WHAT OTHER ARTISTS HAVE YOU LOVED COLLABORATING WITH, IF ANY
I’ve collaborated with Jessie Dugan, Cassandra Collections, Kyari Bags, Monee Elizabeth and Lyn Roe Denim. I love what collaborations add to my brand. I love the opportunity to share the many ways the brand can be worn. It makes a difference to the customer.
TELL US ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF SUSTAINABLE FASHION
Fashion has long been a culprit of adding significantly to waste issues worldwide. I believe the best thing I can do is to not over produce the demand for my product. I make my inventory to order. When boutiques order the line, I make only a little more than what is requested to cover online orders and pop-up shops.
WHAT IS SPECIAL ABOUT THE PRODUCTS YOU CHOOSE TO DESIGN
The products I’ve chosen to design are about creating the new power dressing that fits a woman’s curves. I find that some of the clothing is cut too straight or too boxy, and it does not fit women who have more shape. Regardless of your size, the proportions just do not fit. I have created garments that aim to accommodate real women.
HOW IMPORTANT IS SHOPPING LOCAL TO YOU
Shopping local has become a major disruptor to big retailers, which is great for more niche businesses like mine. I love that there is support for small business owners, especially in Austin. We do a happy dance every time we get a satisfied customer.
HOW HAS THE AUSTIN COMMUNITY SUPPORTED YOU
Austin has been an incredible support to my business. I’ve participated in Austin Fashion Week, Tribeza Style Week, appeared on We Are Austin, and collaborated with other Austin-based businesses. I’m also sold in a couple of local boutiques: The Garden Room and Altatudes. The support has been incredible. Austin has really taken me in as its own, and I do not take it for granted.
WOULD YOU BE OPEN TO A DESIGN COLLAB WITH A LOCAL AUSTIN ARTIST
I would love to continue to collaborate with Austin artists. There are so many amazing designers that have really established themselves here as meaningful fixtures, but have also exported their design abroad. The growth potential through collaboration is one that I strongly believe in. We can go further together.
TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR COMMITMENT TO EMPOWERING WOMEN IN BUSINESS
My commitment and desire to empower women in business is to create and share opportunities that move us forward together. I choose to work with women-owned businesses as much as possible. Too often, women can be their own worst enemy. We have to support and lift each other up and decide to change the narrative. There is enough room for us to all be successful.
WHAT IS ONE THING YOU WISH PEOPLE KNEW ABOUT NINA MEANS
Hmm… that’s a good question. I’m very much an open book. I do not hide my feelings very well, so whatever you may see on my face is exactly what you’re going to get. Regarding my design, I can’t tell you how much I love what I do. When women feel confident and beautiful in the clothes I’ve created for them, it fuels me for the next collection. It’s really the joy of my heart.
AUSTIN LOCAL INSIDER RECOMMENDATIONS
FAVORITE LOCAL FOOD TRUCK
My favorite food truck is Garbo’s Lobster Truck – everything is good, and they really stuff their lobster roll.
FAVORITE LOCAL CURATED BOUTIQUE
My favorite local curated boutique is Kick Pleat. Although I’m not currently carried there, the layout of the store is like a gallery with a very specific point of view.
FAVORITE LOCAL COFFEE SHOP(S)
Best coffee shops are Thunderbird, Houndstooth and Apanas. They have excellent coffee, and they are great places to get out of the studio for a bit.
MUST-SEE RECOMMENDATION(S) FOR THOSE TRAVELING TO AUSTIN
For those who love nature, I would recommend Hamilton Pool. For brunch, I love Jacoby’s. For those who want to be more active, I would send them to Barton Springs and Zilker Park. For the view, I always take people to the Oasis at sunset. People are always so shocked they’re in Texas when they see it.
WHERE CAN SUPPORTERS FIND YOUR DESIGNS
Right now, you can find me online at ninameans.com and locally at Altatudes boutique and The Garden Room. All updates on social media are @ninameansusa on all channels.