Rolling Out

Nicole R. Brown shares her joy with urban peacocks

Nicole Brown
Photo courtesy of Nicole R. Brown

Nicole R. Brown is a designer with big dreams all wrapped up in a pretty bow. Brown is the chief creator of Ruth Nathan’s Bow Ties for the Urban Peacock. Born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, Brown’s goal is to help customers stand out and expresss themselves with unique neck wear. Brown spoke with rolling out regarding how she got into the bow tie business. 

What keeps you inspired?

I know I have a unique gift that only I can share. It makes my heart full to see that I can create joy in someone else’s day just by sharing print ideas that I’ve developed from my experiences and visions. There are many ways to change lives, and if I can hold a small part in that, then I’m all for it.

Who inspired you to pursue your dream of designing? 

All of my grandparents inspired me to pursue my dream of designing. Specifically, my [maternal] Grandpa Nathan instilled in all of us to have pride in our attire. He was an example of an accomplished tailor who was well known and well-loved throughout Greenville, Mississippi. He treated his creations gingerly and made me want to embody his authenticity. I could see how much joy he gave to his loyal clientele, and it made me want to replicate that.

What was your first creative position, and what did you learn that you apply today to your professional creative practice?

My first creative position was to help design and sew the choir robes for my church in Brooklyn, [New York]. I learned that one must be clear and concise when discussing timelines and objectives. As creative as I — or anyone —  would like to be, there is a finite amount of time to complete projects, or you’ll miss your mark. A simple concept can quickly go astray if proper parameters are not set. Also, vision and budget must be on one accord.

What has been the biggest change in the business since you started designing?

The ability for your audience to help inform your collections. It’s been much easier to connect to my tribe through social media for opinions on prints and colorways. Getting feedback from my Urban Peacocks helps me know I’m moving in the right direction and giving the people what they need to feel seen.

How does technology play a role in designing and marketing in fashion today?

One of my first freelance gigs out of college was designing prints for a boxer shorts brand. I used to make several options of the same print, copy them to a CD, mail it to Texas, and wait for a response from the owner. Thank God for sites like WeTransfer.

Regarding marketing, my favorite new app is Tailwind. I’m using it with my interns on Instagram, and it even helps you find and save relevant hashtags. It’s helpful in [using] Facebook and Pinterest, so we will be integrating those soon also.

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