During this summers AfroPunk Festival, I was immediately struck when introduced to the geometric printed clothing and wonderfully crazy colorways of the Brooklyn based label Nakimuli. Self taught designer Tennille McMillan who describes her personal style as ”An eclectic box of crayons… I love color and wear a lot of prints. Love unique shoes and accessories.” Her work which is a equal mix of electric contrasting prints, loads of jersey, and spandex has even been worn by neo-soul legends Erykah Badu and Jill Scott. The brand which “aims to go beyond the traditions of women’s fashion and explore more of the imagination, what could be rather than what should be…We at Nakimuli want to create a fashion revolution: replace the cookie cutter model with one that embraces individuality, comfort, and fun.” It was truly an honor to chat with McMillian and get a brief glimpse into mind behind the brand. Both Nakimuli and Ms. McMillian have so much to offer the world, I’m sure you will be able to take away something from her candid approach to both fashion and life. Enjoy!
Written by Kori C. Fields @msvintagediva
EDGE: How much of your life do you feel influences your designs?
Nakimuli: All of it! I am definitely one of the muses of my line. I once read a quote where Diane von Furstenburg said that at the beginning of her career, she was designing for the woman she wanted to become. And I think I am there with Nakimuli. There are pieces that speak to every aspect of my personality. Just like any art, designing clothing is very personal and it definitely showcases my moods/many side of me.
EDGE: Who inspires you?
Nakimuli: Music is probably number 1. Growing up, I LOVED watching music videos. So when I hear music I like, I instantly begin to design garments in my head. Also, the way women wear clothing inspire me; so does nature, other designers/artists, the list goes on…
EDGE: What’s your “Master Plan” for Nakimuli and yourself individually?
Nakimuli: As an individual, it’s just to be happy, to follow my heart and do the things that make me happy. And to inspire others to be the best they can be. And I want to do that via Nakimuli. Of course I want what other designers want, financial stability, brand recognition, etc. But I really want to make people happy by designing dope pieces and inspire them to live their best life.
EDGE: What would you say to other designers?
Nakimuli: To quote Oscar Wilde, “Be yourself; everyone else is taken.” I think a lot of designers and artists in general start out trying to imitate others they love. It is a great starting place but it is important to know your voice, what you want to say. That helps people distinguish you from the rest in the crowd.
EDGE: How did Erykah Badu start wearing your clothing?
Nakimuli: A customer of mine knows her and told me that she could get me in contact with her, give her 7 days. The very next day, I got this very short and cryptic message from Erykah Badu. I was so excited! I emailed my friend to thank her for hooking me up with her. She wrote back that she never even got a chance to call Erykah yet! It was weird…so how did she get my info??? I found out later, Erykah is the mentor to an emerging singing group and they follow my blog. They mentioned my name as someone they would love to work with and she just happened to contact me at the same time I was trying to contact her!
EDGE: How much of the art of dance do you incorporate into your designs?
Nakimuli: I am not sure…It is something that happens unconsciously. I usually don’t see it but other people always tell me they can see the dance influence in my garments.
EDGE: Any last words?
Nakimuli: FOLLOW YOUR HEART. If there is something you always wanted to do, DO IT. And make sure to have a great group of family/friends/mentors to support you because the road is rough! But once you realize your dreams, it will be all worth it. Good luck!
Don’t just read about Nakimuli, SUPPORT! Be sure to follow and shop the brand just in time for the holidays…