Meet Nicole Najafi
ON HER MORNING ROUTINE
I wake up naturally at 6 AM thanks to crippling anxiety. I climb over my boyfriend who is always dead asleep at that hour and turn on some lights in the living room since it’s still dark out. This hour is my absolute favorite of the day. The city is so quiet, and I feel like the only person in the world who’s awake. I brush my teeth, make coffee, and write three pages in a journal, something I recently started doing after reading the Artist’s Way. I highly recommend! My boyfriend wakes up, and I demand attention from him until I’ve fully exhausted that resource. Then I get ready for work.
ON Her career AND Entrepreneurship
I started my career in Paris. I worked at Lanvin and Yves Saint Laurent for two years before moving to New York, where I worked at Balenciaga. I quit Balenciaga to start Industry Standard, and then eventually Tio y Tia.
Since I was a kid, I have always wanted to start a company. I grew up in Silicon Valley, and am the daughter of a serial entrepreneur. I used to pitch inventions to my dad and he would ask me to figure out how an invention or idea would solve a problem for people. Fast forward a couple of decades, and I landed on jeans because I couldn’t believe how difficult it was to shop for them. I wanted to fix that. I wanted to create a one-stop shop for classic, well-made women’s denim. The best resource I had was the group of women who had started companies, and that remains my best resource four years later. I started a secret Facebook group of women brand-founders and we post tips and advice. It makes me so happy to be part of a group of women helping each other. I’ve never had a lawyer or anything fancy like that!
Advice For aspiring entrepreneurs
Start a business because you live and breathe the idea. Don’t get intimidated by stuff that you don’t have to worry about yet. Focus on what’s in the immediate future. Don’t waste your startup capital on unnecessary expenses like business cards. That was my dad’s advice, and it was great. I didn’t get business cards until my second year in business. Pay it forward, and help others once you get there!
On her favorite tools for work
ON HER STYLE
I don’t shop much, but I like to support small, female-owned businesses when I do. I love Ply Knits, Paloma Wool, the Frankie Shop, J Hannah, Apiece Apart. I do dabble in Zara from time to time. I would describe my style as comfortable. I don’t ever wear things that are uncomfortable, like heels that are too high, clothes that are too tight, or fabrics that are scratchy.
ON SELF-CARE RITUALS AND CREATIVE PURSUITS
I write three pages in a journal every morning. My Peet Rivko 2-step cleanser + moisturizer routine feels like self-care because it’s so damn soft and pure. Then regularly going to comedy shows because laughter is legitimately the best medicine.
ON Her NIGHTLY ROUTINE
I wash my face, brush my teeth, and watch Seinfeld.
ON HER BEAUTY ROUTINE
I wash my face with Peet Rivko cleanser. It’s plant-based, fragrance-free and really gentle. I use Persian rose water on my face as a toner. It’s an ancient beauty product (Cleopatra used it!) that is natural and great for skin. I get it straight from the source in Iran when visiting family members. Then I moisturize with Peet Rivko moisturizer, put Mario Badescu's Hyaluronic Eye Cream, La Roche-Posay Anthelios Clear Skin Face Dry Touch Sunscreen, then some concealer and mascara from Cle de Peau, and I’m done. I stopped wearing foundation regularly and that improved my skin. I love Ursa Major wipes when I’m too lazy to wash my face. I don’t know if they’re any better than generic wipes, but the packaging is cute, so that does it for me. Oh and I love ArtNaturals Argan Oil Leave-In Conditioner for my hair.
ON HER APPROACH TO HOME DECOR
I try to avoid catalog stores, so I do a lot of my shopping at antique shops outside the city. I collect things along the way when I travel. Craigslist is my best resource. I bought my Restoration Hardware sofa on Craigslist for a major bargain. Same with my Italian marble dining table that was $200 on Craigslist. My rug is from a Moroccan Etsy seller in Marrakech. A lot of the art is by my dad’s wife, Badri Valian. Her work is so cool and very affordable on Saatchi. I love bedding from Parachute, my friend’s company that is woman-owned. I have a very good recommendation for buying window treatments: Country Curtains. Super random store but they have good stuff for cheap.
NICOLE'S FAVORITE BOOKS
Liar’s Club by Mary Karr, What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton, Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi, The Stranger by Albert Camus, On Writing by Stephen King, The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
NICOLE'S favorite movies
Lost in Translation, Paris, Texas, Kill Bill Vol 1, Manhattan
NICOLE'S favorite places IN BROOKLYN
Commune Hair Salon – a Japanese hair salon in Williamsburg. That’s where I cut my hair.
Joe Junior’s – obviously. Best diner.
Chisai – great neighborhood poke spot in Prospect Heights
Midwinter Kitchen – great farm to table spot right near me