NAME: Nicole Miller
LOCATION: New York City, NY
OCCUPATION: Fashion Designer
Worn by the likes of Jennifer Aniston, Joss Stone, Angeline Jolie, and Beyonce, Nicole Miller has been an iconic designer and business woman since she opened her first store in 1986 on Madison Avenue in New York. She has expanded her brand into several lines encompassing haute couture, bridal, children’s wear, home, and activewear.
What was it about your art college experience that prepared you for what you have accomplished?
I think you know, first of all, college life prepares you for later life. For me, because I went to two schools, I felt that the education I got at both schools were very different. RISD gave me a strong art background. It started with the foundation. I had classes in color, life drawing, sculpture, painting, and illustration. Then I went to school in Paris for a year. It was very traditional, but it was so helpful because it was so technical. At RISD it was a little bit less technical, and a lot more free. I got to do both things during my college experience.
What was your transition like from college graduation to your career?
Well, when I was in college at RISD, everyone was terrified of going to New York, and a lot of other students went to Boston, which I thought was so weird. I mean, who would go for fashion in Boston? (laughs) It wasn’t easy back then, I don’t think, to get a job. The industry wasn’t that big, and all you had to do is look at Women’s Wear Daily to find a job opening. I had an internship when I was a senior at RISD, and they hired me. So that was my first job. I really stress internships because very often, companies hire interns. Anyway, I had that job for about three to four months, when they decided they were going to pack up and move everything to Hong Kong. Through a friend of a friend, I got another job designing raincoats. I had a really great time doing that. It was really fun. After that, I was there for a while, and saw and ad in the paper which said, designer willing to travel to Paris, and I was like, “that’s me!” Anyway, I was lucky enough to get that job.
What advice would you give to young women who want to establish careers for themselves and want to run their own business?
It is good to be focused, and I would say to stay geared towards the area you want to be in. I think it’s really important to decide where you want to be. It may not work out right away, but I think you’re going to have a better chance of getting a job in what you want to do. Focus on one thing.