How a chance encounter helped launch Misha Nonoo's fashion company originally appeared on goodmorningamerica.com
Fashion designer Misha Nonoo always knew she wanted to build something that would become her legacy.
"The passion probably came from watching my father, he was extremely hardworking and how he built his business and how much he derived the passion that I saw him with, going to work every day...that aspect comes from him a little bit." Nonoo tells Rebecca Jarvis on an episode of "No Limits with Rebecca Jarvis."
The 33-year-old who launched her eponymous fashion label in 2011, was born in Bahrain, grew up in London and went to school in Paris. She eventually found her way to New York in 2009 and took a job at a small tailoring company in the Garment District of Manhattan, which would become the impetus for her career.
The role was mainly to work on menswear but Nonoo saw it as an opportunity to learn as much as she could while working for the head designer.
"I learned everything from sourcing fabrics to patternmaking to production.” She said, “And I happened to, on the side, two years later, make eight jackets and coats for myself, and I didn't really have any business plan but I guess maybe, I was thinking about how I could commercialize it."
Those pieces would become the foundation of Nonoo’s collection and wearing one of the jackets would lead to a serendipitous encounter that would eventually take her label to the next level.
"I happened to be sitting at brunch at Prune in the Lower East Side with a bunch of girlfriends. And two tables away from me was a lady and she said to me, 'Oh my goodness I love your jacket. Where's it from?' And I said, 'Oh I made it.' She happened to be one of the senior buyers at Intermix and she said, 'Well I really love it. Will you come in for an appointment next week and bring what else you have?' And I said, 'Okay'."
Five days later, Nonoo walked out of the woman’s office with a purchase order for $150,000, six to twelve weeks to deliver a product and no incorporated business or plan. She called her father who has a background in finance and together, with Nonoo’s training at her then-job, the two figured out how to make it happen. Her brand was officially born.
"I did every single aspect of it whilst having another job and they were like, why does she disappear in the middle of the day for like three hours at a time? I was packing every single box and probably bagging it. You have to label it a certain way, reading instruction booklets. I mean the whole thing, I did from soup to nuts myself and I think it's really important actually to have that background, if you can, in whatever industry you're entering."
Since that time Nonoo was named to Forbes' "30 Under 30," Crain’s New York Business "40 Under 40" as well as a finalist for the 2013 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund. She made waves in the fashion industry when she was the first fashion designer to use Instagram to debut her Spring/Summer 2016 collection.
"It was hugely successful and it led them to one year later, me relaunching the business as a fully direct-to-consumer business."
Today her company has an on-demand manufacturing model which means the items are made to order and her famous button-down called "The Husband Shirt" is a favorite among celebrities like The Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, who recently partnered with Nonoo on her charity fashion line The Smart Set Shirt.
Integral to Nonoo’s success throughout the last eight years seems to be an emphasis on specificity and strategy. When Nonoo thinks about the worst advice she never took, it comes to funding, something about which she has always been very deliberate.
"I only ever had raised one round of funding, it was series seed and it was about two years ago and several people -- and it was actually only men that gave me this advice -- but several people said to me, 'You should really take on as much money as you can get.'"
Nonoo didn’t listen. She says that she had a strategy behind the number of funds she was seeking from investors and made a very specific financial plan.
"I knew that what I had set out to accomplish I was going to be able to do... it’s a lot of responsibility when you take on other people’s money, as we did, it comes with responsibility and it also comes with strings attached so you have to think about that."
Hear more from Misha Nonoo on an upcoming episode of the "No Limits with Rebecca Jarvis" podcast.