Top swimwear designer Lila Nikole built The Lila Nikole Collection from the ground up using her superpowers. When asked what she considers her superpowers to be as a woman of color, she replied without hesitation, “Persistence and strength … I just dig deep and keep pushing through and remain persistent and consistent.” Born in New York and rooted in South Florida, this Puerto Rican queen’s eye for design is a fusion of her Latin heritage, blended with bold patterns, and colorful influences that scream Miami, California and viva Las Vegas.
Making waves for over a decade, the Lila Nikole Collection has been donned by the likes of heavy hitters across several platforms, such as tennis mogul Serena Williams; Oscar-nominated actor Will Smith; reality TV star Kim Kardashian; model Chrissy Teigen; actress Jenny McCarthy,;and model Gigi Hadid. Her highly sought after brand has led to collaborations with the NBA and NFL, on the court and on the field; as well as on the screen with HBO, Univision and BET’s “Rip the Runway.” Her designs have graced the pages of many print publications, being featured in Sports Illustrated several times in addition to its 50th Anniversary Swim Issue.
Nikole’s brand continues to thrive, not just because of her designs, but also because she understands the importance of serving others. She thoughtfully shares her time and talents with multiple charities and foundations such as Project Save Imagination, Make A Wish Foundation, The Boys & Girls Club of Miami, The Food Bank For Hunger NYC, Chapman Partnership for Women and Children, Share Our Strength, and with the Miami Dolphins in support of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Read more from designer Lila Nikole herself, as she reveals a few tips to success and why it’s important to set examples and reach back to help others along the way.
What key skills or qualities make you unique as a female leader?
I really believe in my team and want them all to shine. The better growth they experience, the better we are as a team. One of my key traits is really taking the time to determine [what] their strong talents [and] really pull it out of them. When you’re on my team, we work. No messing around. I show tough love but am always there for them. If they are on my team or have moved on — we become family.
What thoughtful or encouraging piece of advice would you give to your younger self?
I would tell myself to wrangle it all in. Stop taking on so many projects and focus more on one at a time.
Why is it important for women of color to lead or work in leadership roles and decision-making capacities?
We are capable. We are strong. We are role models. Little girls need to see what we are capable of and rise to be strong leaders themselves. I have icons I look up to and hope to be that person [that ] someone [follows] in my footsteps.
If you could thank any woman of color history maker for her contributions to society, who would it be and why?
Rosa Louise McCauley Parks. She stood up for her beliefs. Rosa showed me to never let go of what is important in my life and to always hold my ground. She showed me strength!
Why is it important for seasoned and experienced women to reach back and help younger women of color?
I really do believe in the saying “the children are the future.” Some of us have been blessed with gifts and it is important to share, to mentor, to help, to volunteer, to donate. I am heavily involved in charity. I’m all about helping — young and old.
How do you feel about the hashtag #CollaborationOverCompetition? What qualities or values do you deem indispensable in your business partners or collaborators?
Collaboration! You learn so much from others. You share networks. You create an energy that is just awesome and dope projects come out of it. We can all eat, no reason to step on anyone trying to fulfill their dream just as you are.
What are your thoughts on taking risks and making mistakes?
I would define myself as a rebel of sorts. I live for the adrenaline and adventure. I say go for it! Make mistakes, learn and come back and do it better! Risk = rewards.
What are three success habits you implement into your daily routine to maintain your success, sanity and peace of mind?
Gratitude – I am aware of my life and how gifted it is. I remain humble and show appreciation for it.
Love – My home is my temple and I do not allow outside influences in our home or family. It’s our happy place and I do whatever is necessary to keep that zen at home at all times.
Fun – I love traveling, going to concerts, trying new things. I make sure that I don’t let work overpower my life. I work to have fun. I live now, [and I’m] not saving it for when I am too old to enjoy it. Truly living in the moment.
As a successful woman in business, what is your greatest or proudest achievement?
My greatest achievement is building my brand with no money, no experience, no help and no partners. I had an idea and a desire and I just put all of my energy into it and have watched it blossom for the past 10 years! We are striving in an oversaturated market and I still love what I do!
Who’s your biggest inspiration and why?
My son is my biggest inspiration. He means everything to me. He has shown me the better part of what life has to offer. My goal is [to] make sure he lives an amazing life with no worries. We are both growing together and it’s been an indescribable and unimaginable path. Every day is for him.
If you could have any person in the world become your mentor, who would you choose and why?
This one is easy. Daymond John. Our story is similar. He started sewing hats in his living room. He grew that into an empire with little money and experience. He’s a mogul now dominating in multiple fields. If I ever took a partner, he would be the person of choice for me.
How do you define innovation?
Innovation to me means remaining fresh, full of color, full of life, different and just something we need. I make swimwear. It’s always the same silhouette, yet we find a way to continuously pop out invigorating concepts to keep you intrigued and wanting more.
Summer is soon upon us, so before you take your next bae-cation, take a dip in the ocean or bask in the sun poolside, peruse through her site for a swimsuit infused with her super powers. I can see it now, you flexing like the boss that you are!