Nic Hyl is the Creative Director and Founder of Nic Hyl Clothing that combines the best of everything she believes in and loves. She fuses together her Jamaican heritage and Florida upbringing and takes pride in presenting them to the world.
As a transformational leader, she believes in finding learning lessons from her mistakes and creating her own journey. The motto of her brand is to Live Beautifully and that is ingrained in every fabric of her company. Nic’s wise experience in the fashion industry propels her mission —to end fast fashion by producing long-lasting clothes and helping local businesses to develop and manufacture all of her products in the United States.
She is a passionate entrepreneur who plans to add a wholesale division to Nic Hyl Clothing and grow her program Nic Hyl Fashion University, wherein emerging fashion professionals can save money and create beautiful products consistently. Read more of her story in this Exclusive Interview with Nic Hyl.
What according to you makes one a transformational leader? How do you integrate the same thought into your leadership?
I think a transformational leader understands that mistakes will happen and rather than admonish their team for the mistakes, uses it as a learning lesson to grow and better the company. As well as implementing trainings from lessons learned from the opportunities the mistakes brought about. I integrate this in my leadership by showing additional, more effective ways a solution can be approached, by asking what difficulties were experienced throughout the course of completing said task, and treating my team members with respect and dignity, regardless of what problems we experienced along the way.
Talk to us about your growing up years. What is your earliest memory as a leader that you can remember?
I was always a pretty confident person. I was bullied a lot as a child, so I had to learn very early on how to have confidence and love myself as I am. That brought about a natural leadership that you don’t often find in young children. My first memory of leadership would probably be me telling my dad and older brother what to do whenever my mom wasn’t at home; my dad would always tell my mom that “she bosses us around when you’re not here”.
What prompted your interest and subsequently your foray into the fashion designing space?
I’ve always LOVED fashion. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t drawn to it. My maternal grandmother was a fashion designer herself and my paternal grandmother was an expert seamstress. One of my grandfathers was a furniture designer. It’s in my blood.
Moving into the design world was less obvious for me. I first went to school for Psychology and Forensic Science and graduated with a BS in psychology. It wasn’t until I was on my way to grad school that I realized that was not an industry I would have long term happiness in. My mom saw how unhappy I was with my career choice and suggested I go back to school for fashion design because of how much I’ve always loved it. I did. The rest is history.
Talk to us about Nic Hyl Clothing and what led to the inception of this platform.
Nic Hyl Clothing combines the best of everything I am and love. It’s really well designed and well-made pieces that nod to my Jamaican heritage and Florida upbringing. It fuses together all that I’ve learned from my career in the fashion industry + my desire to end fast fashion by producing clothes that are made to last and it also satisfies my commitment to help other small and local businesses by only developing, producing, and manufacturing all of my pieces in the United States.
Being the Creative Director and Founder, what role do you play in the day-to-day proceedings of the company?
Nic Hyl Clothing is an independently owned and operated brand. So, I do all of the operations of the business still. We’re actually a really small team with just myself, my assistant, and my husband. I outsource work to other small and local businesses when needed. But we’re able to do so much on our own because of the specific set of skills and knowledge that we own.
I manage creative, budgeting, marketing, operations, sourcing, development, and production. As we continually grow, I will remove things off of my plate and delegate where necessary. But for now, I’m extremely hands on.
What is the approach followed by the company when it comes to providing optimal client satisfaction?
The motto of the brand is Live Beautifully. So that is ingrained in everything we do. We speak to our customers (and teams) with respect and dignity and really try to approach it from a point of view of wanting our customers to come back again and again; that’s the goal of business, to acquire a customer and keep them. You can’t do that if you treat your customers poorly. We’re honest, fair, respectful, engaging, understanding and create value wherever we can. We always want our customers to feel beautiful. That starts from the first interaction and how we treat them.
What has the journey been like for Nic Hyl over the years? Looking back, what would you have done differently if you were to start again?
Because it’s an independently owned business, the journey has been slow because I don’t take out loans to operate the business. But I own the business out right and have complete autonomy with the brand. I’m also extremely well trained so my journey was probably as easy as it could be, and it was still difficult at times.
The only thing I think I would do differently if I had to do it all over again is understanding the marketing piece of it more before I started. But even then, I don’t necessarily regret that because the parts of the business that I did/do know are much harder to learn.
What would be your advice for aspiring and emerging women leaders in the fashion industry?
Really understand where in the marketplace you and your business are going to fit and have a purpose, and really understand the business of fashion. People think that fashion is just about pretty clothes. But it’s so much more than that. It’s marketing, economics, macroeconomics, global affairs, environmental, technical, artistic, business, financials, and legal all wrapped up in one. So much of what happens in the world is either impacted by fashion, or fashion is impacted by it.
What has been the biggest roadblock during your journey? What has been your biggest learning?
My biggest roadblock…… hmmm. I haven’t had one. I find solutions to whatever problems exist. At the end of the day, I still need to get done the things I need to get done. If a roadblock exists, I figure out a solution. That said, the problem that took the longest to solve is always capital. To that end I apply for grants and have even created another business to help with income when needed. As business owners we have to get creative with how we generate income, especially for fashion businesses that require large investments 6-12 months before you sell products. We often work at a deficit so figuring out how to survive during the investment phase is key.
Biggest learning (from my parents) I would say is to treat people with kindness. You’d be surprised how much more quickly and easily you can get things done when you show genuine respect and kindness to people, regardless of how big or small their role is. It’s such a fast-moving industry also, that you never know today someone could be the janitor or doorman, and tomorrow they’re heading up the magazine you’re pitching for press.
Finally, what does the future look like for you, both personally and professionally?
My future is bright. Personally, my husband and I want to start a family and spend more time with our families. Professionally, it would be to continue to grow the brand; we just added a wholesale division to Nic Hyl Clothing. Also, to grow my program Nic Hyl Fashion University. It’s a program where I show emerging fashion designers, fashion professionals and anyone looking to make their own product how to solve their PD and production problems so they can save money and create beautiful products consistently. I also just started doing public speaking and I’m excited to book more speaking engagements for 2022.