Meet Nicole Najafi

Nicole Najafi for Passerbuys64.jpg
Nicole Najafi, has inherited the entrepreneurial spirit from her father and created her own denim label, Industry Standard, an American brand. After growing up in a household that valued innovation and solving problems, she found her niche as an adult. There must have been an easier way to shop for women’s jeans, and that was the problem that her company wants to fix. By creating  forums for women to exchange business advice, she continues to learn and dispense this wisdom to women who would like to do the same.
Nicole Najafi for Passerbuys9.jpg


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!

Nicole Najafi for Passerbuys3.jpg
“Liars Club,” by memoirist Mary Karr, is my favorite book of all time. Hillary Clinton’s book, “What Happened,” is a must read. If you want to understand why the election went the way it did and what we’re up against in 2020, you must read it. Arm yourself with knowledge.
— On her favorite books

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

Snapseed and VSCO for editing iPhone photos, Swipecast for booking models, and Pilot G2 Gel Ink pens are my jam.


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.


Nicole Najafi for Passerbuys7.jpg
Shirt, Madewell ;    Jeans, And Other Stories

Shirt, Madewell ; Jeans, And Other Stories


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.


I wash my face, brush my teeth, and watch Seinfeld.


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 CreamLa 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.


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 Najafi for Passerbuys2.jpg
I moonwalked out of the office on my last day at Balenciaga. A career highlight. With Industry Standard, it was when my favorite director placed an order on the site. I burst into hysterics and tears immediately. There have been some brutally hard moments, too. Long nights packing orders by myself, production orders that came out wrong, and times where I really didn’t know how I was going to get out of a pickle. Women are like cats, though. We always land on our feet.
— On career highs and lows


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.

Strand Book Store

Alabaster Books

Joe Junior’s  – obviously. Best diner.

Chisai  – great neighborhood poke spot in Prospect Heights

Nom Wah Tea Parlor

Café Mogador in EV

Midwinter Kitchen  – great farm to table spot right near me