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Photo courtesy of Nicole R. Brown

When Nicole R. Brown launched Ruth Nathan’s, a brand named after her maternal grandparents, her plan was to create accessories for urban sophisticates with discerning tastes, or as she calls them, “urban peacocks.” Mission accomplished. This designing woman with a flair for color comes by her talent naturally, her grandfather was a tailor. Read on to find out what she’s up to currently and what catches her eye.

What inspires you?

I am inspired daily by my travels. Whether it’s a strange pattern on a leaf in the road in Chicago or a sunset in Jacksonville, Florida, or shipping containers in Savannah, Georgia, I can see colors and patterns anywhere.

How did you determine your career path?

I’ve always had a strong desire to design. I’ve just recently gone into menswear and I found bow ties to be the perfect gateway. It’s easy to add an accessory to your wardrobe and change the mood of your look and also your day.

What skill sets will be essential for future business leaders?

One must always be flexible! You never know where a path will lead you or your day will take you. Also, it’s very important to be perseverant. Keep pushing forward no matter what and don’t let anyone tell you what cannot be done.

Describe innovative methods you apply to your business and life.

In my brand, Ruth Nathan’s, I originally design the fabric prints on certain ties. It’s innovative because I use my inspirations of shipping containers, or rare minerals or even foreign currency as print ideas. In my life, I think the most innovative method I use is my ability to easily move between social circles. I can relax with colleagues from school just as easily as the CEO of any company.

How do you set goals and evaluate your success?

I use an accountability group (also known as a mastermind) to bounce ideas off of and state my deadlines. We all help to keep each other in line and remind ourselves of progress made so far.

Name three books that changed how you saw life that you would recommend to others.

1) The Message Bible. I like to recommend this version of the Bible to people who feel the King James version is too hard to understand. The language speaks in more common terms and helps us realize that the Word is alive and applicable today still.  2) The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris. I recommend this book to many people because we live in a world that is way too stressed. It let me see that you can run a successful business and not be constantly inundated by email and notifications on your phone. You have the power to run your life and not the other way around. 3) Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari. This book let me see that it’s not just me. Everyone is struggling with real relationships these days.

Why is lifelong learning important to you?

I think lifelong learning is vital to success because when you stop learning, growth stops as well. There will always be something new to discover with culture, trends, business, technology … the list could go on. You can never really know it all.

What factors make a woman successful?

1) You must first know yourself. What do you stand for? What principles are important to your life and then also for your business? Knowing yourself will guide you and the brand in the right direction. 2) You must also count the costs. What are you willing to sacrifice now in order to have what you need later? Time? Money? Product/service? Everything that’s free is not without cost. 3) Know how to enjoy yourself! You will miss so many things if you take yourself too seriously. The key to success lies within balance.

Technology plays what role in your daily life?

Technology plays a very large role in my life. Assessing the analytics for Facebook, Instagram and the website is key to tracking the health of my marketing efforts. I am also frequently reminded of how much I have yet to learn!

What social media app or tool has most impacted your business?

A good friend recently introduced me to the Instagram business account. It gives me key insights (at no cost) on the demographics of my followers and also the times at which my posts are most effective. If I am going to spend time developing social media I want it to be beneficial to the sales funnel process.

If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?

The one thing I would change about the world is to give people more compassion. I think it is lacking in healthcare, in economics and especially in garment production. There are plenty of sectors of life that could use more compassion.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

The one thing I would change about myself is to be more compassionate to me! I say too many bad things about myself; sometimes I can be my own worst enemy.

Who or what motivates you?

I am motivated by the passion to contribute to society. I can only make charitable donations if I have the income to donate. I feel it is my reasonable duty to give — even if it is not directly back to the source — because so much has been given to me.

What are the do’s and don’ts for young women in business?

Do’s for young women in business: Do make sure you celebrate the “wins.” Do remember to thank people. Always. Do take the time to pray, meditate, or whatever you do to center yourself. Don’ts: Don’t compare yourself to others. You never know what they had to go through to get where they are. Everyone’s hustle is different. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. Don’t give up!

How do you grow from business failure?

Always assess the failure to find out where to go next time. It’s akin to watching the replays after a football game. If you don’t find where you went wrong you may be doomed to repeat it.

Name three successful female role models and explain why you admire them.

1) Oprah. Of course. She started from humble beginnings and now she has the Midas touch. Ms. Winfrey always finds a way to give back and not just writing checks. When she back a company they gain the respect of everyone who admires Oprah’s business savvy too. 2) Sarah Blakely, founder of Spanx. She is a genius! Ms. Blakely solved a pain point for so many women and managed to make it accessible at different price points. She also gives back through project “Leg Up.”  3) Madame C. J. Walker, the first female self-made millionaire in America. If I think I have it hard, she had it worse. It was not easy being a female entrepreneur in her time and being black must have made the struggle even more difficult. She is also a great role model for solving pain points for hundreds of black women; she is also a known activist and philanthropist.

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Photo courtesy of Ruth Nathan's

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Photo courtesy of Ruth Nathan's

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Photo courtesy of Ruth Nathan's

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Photo courtesy of Ruth Nathan's

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Munson Steed

Founder and publisher of rolling out's parent company Steed Media Group.