Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Tori Nichel Talks About Her Time on Fashion Star

Photo by Tyler Golden/NBC

Tori Nichel, a New York based fashion designer was eliminated from Fashion Star in week two when none of the buyers purchased her one shoulder dress in the sex sells challenge. Before coming to Fashion Star Nichel was already a successful designer having worked at Kenneth Cole, Tibi and K-Mart as well as launching her own line of women’s dresses aptly named Tori Nichel. We spoke with Tori in a recent conference call about her time on the show and what’s up next for her.

On the Most Important Piece of Advice She Got from Her Mento Jessica Simpson
“The most important advice I got on the show was just to make sure I design commercial pieces and when I was eliminated she just told me make sure always stay true to myself and my brand, which was really nice.”

On Buyer Feedback that She’ll Carry Forward in Her Design Work
“The feedback I got from Terron [Schaefer, Saks Fifith Avenue buyer], I definitely disagreed with and I think the people who are following the show disagreed with — the print selection and the colors. It seemed like everyone really loved it. One of the thing that Caprice [Willard, Macy’s buyer] had mentioned to me, which I’ve always stayed true to is just continuing to do my dresses. People out there in the market, whether it’s been me working at Kenneth Cole, Tibi, my own collection Tori Nichel, people always remember my dresses, love them. So just staying true and servicing that customer, especially since dresses are so of the moment right now.”

On What Advice She Has for Aspiring Designers
“There’s so many young designers I’ve worked with, whether they’ve worked for me or if I was doing something at one of my schools. And everyone wants to get out of school or just get out of where they’re going and just start this line… There’s more to designing than just sketching and draping and pattern making. You’ve got to learn the business side, too. One of the best [pieces of] advice I got coming out of school was mess up on somebody else’s dollar first. Learn the ins and outs while it’s not costing you anything. So definitely apprenticing from someone is so important and also just staying true to whatever that vision or design esthetic is that brand DNA. Not everybody is going to love your esthetic. And if you start Buyer A or Store A wants this, Store B and C want this, Store D and C want this then all of a sudden your vision and what’s natural to you is jumbled because you’re trying to do and please everyone. So staying true and having a distinct point of view because if you’re consistent, it’ll definitely carry you throughout.”

One the One Lesson She Took from Fashion Star 
“Definitely the biggest lesson on the show, which still breaks my heart, on Episode 2, I wish I was just tougher from the get go with my manufacturing team. It was just slow going everything and deliberating and I just wish I was much tougher. Who knows? You can’t look back. Hindsight’s 20/20.”

On What She’s Doing Now
“I just relaunched a dress collection. Previously I had a full sportswear collection, which I went on hiatus back in 2008, 2009 so it’s really exciting to get the momentum and get out there to the stores again and hit the ground running. People are super excited. Customers that I had that are still with me are excited to get some new Tori Nichel dresses and then all the new customers that I gained from the show are just really excited. I had so many people who wanted the trench coat from the first episode and the dresses from the second episode, even though they weren’t bought. So that really means a lot.

And then I’m working on some partnership opportunities with manufacturers, really trying to build my infrastructure. Like many designers it’s pretty much like me, myself and I, doing a lot of the stuff. When I first launched I had one assistant with me and believe it or not my mom helped me with a lot of PR and communications out in Michigan, that’s a whole other study. So this go around I really want to make sure I’m just building slowly, it’s not going to happen overnight. But building the right infrastructure so I don’t have to be the one doing packing and shipping and designing. I’d love to just focus on the design, the sales and getting out there. There’s so much more these days with social media and just rebuilding that presence for the Tori Nichel brand and building it up. So that’s what I’ve been working on and in addition to interviewing for creative director jobs. I know those are the three main things right now.”

On Advice for the Designers Still on the Show
“Advice that I would give to contestants still on the show, I would say just to have fun with it, live in the moment and enjoy the experience. We all collectively could say that. It’s a once in a lifetime experience. I think Season 2 has amazing, amazing contestants. Everybody’s talented in their own right and own market and I would just say live in the moment and enjoy, not think too much of it and just have fun with it. That’s my spill.”

Watch Fashion Star on Friday nights at 8 p.m. EST/7 p.m. Central on NBC.

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