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Last Update: Thursday July 29, 2021

Key Idea: Feed And Trust Your Instincts

Nicole Miller's inspiration starts big and works its way into every detail of her seasonal line.

Key Question:


Create something no one has ever seen before.  This is the strength of small business.  We create the unique products and services for niche markets while big businesses can only appeal to the masses.

The pressure of sending a new collection to the shops every thirty days is enormous and we conclude that Nicole thrives in that pressure. She feeds herself by traveling, reading, shopping, looking at art and most of all by paying attention.

Some of her creations start when Nicole sees a woman walking down a street in Manhattan. It could be one item the woman is wearing, a combination of what she is wearing or simply an attitude from which Nicole decides to take inspiration.

Every project has a beginning, a middle and an end. Every season and every business as well. For that matter, even every life. But you have to start somewhere.

Q: Where does Nicole start?

A: You saw her start with a clean piece of paper. Then she tells us clearly when she says, "...the first thing I do is plan a color story for the season -- and I just do that totally instinctively." It is wonderful to see validation for following an instinct. Since business is always measured by numbers, most business owners are slow to admit that their instincts are a true source for the direction of their business.

Nicole says that her inspirations come from everywhere.  She might be traveling to an exotic country or just walking down the block in front of her office and see something that gives her an idea for a new design.

Tere Zubizaretta,  founder of Zubi Advertising, says that she only closes deals with people she feels good about in the first meeting.  She only wants long-term relationships and she trusts her instincts to tell her that a potential customer could be good or bad for her business.

Anne McGilvray, founder of AMCI, selects the products she represents by instinct.

Nicole,  Tere and Anne each generate over $100 million in annual revenues today.  This would lead us to believe that instincts can make you rich.

Think about it

What do you do to feed your instincts? How do you listen to your instincts? Do you thrive under pressure? If not, why?

Clip from: Nicole Miller - Fashion & Quality

Nicole Miller on her visit to her boutique in La Jolla.

New York, NY: In this episode we go to the heart of the fashion industry and behind the scenes of Nicole Miller, a fashion house on Seventh Avenue to meet the founders, Nicole Miller and Bud Konheim.  In an industry where even top designers have taken production overseas, Nicole Miller pieces all proudly wear the label, "Made in New York."

It's a stroke of genius for these times, but the reasons go far beyond patriotism. For Nicole Miller, it's all rooted in the fabric of the American entrepreneurial dream: pride of idea, of process, and of execution.  They earnestly try to make women happy and  they are key advocates for causes important to women.

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Nicole Miller Fashions

Nicole Miller, Founder

525 Seventh Avenue
New York, NY 10018

Visit our web site:

Office: 2127199200

Business Classification:

Year Founded: 1982

Feed And Trust Your Instincts

HATTIE (Voiceover): Every item carrying the Nicole Miller name starts with Nicole's sketch pad.

She gives the sketch to one of the drapers who then makes the creation out of muslin. Oscar, the pattern maker, uses the muslin pieces to make the pattern, then he cuts it out of the fabric chosen for the item. It is sewn here in this room in a size eight
NICOLE: --- but that point is too sharp.

HATTIE: and several days a week, there are fitting meetings where Nicole and the team see the piece on a real person for the first time.

NICOLE: -- it goes up too high on the sides? Right?

HATTIE: Costing is calculated by the production department based upon labor, fabric and trim. The sales department decides the best price to be competitive and the garment is scheduled for production. Up to this point, everything has been done by hand – sketching, draping, pattern-making. At the factory, patterns are sized and created by computer.

NICOLE: Well, the first thing I do is plan a color story for the season -- and I just do that totally instinctively. And then I look for the fabrics and I try to find new fabrics and then I try to continue some fabrics that have been successful for me in the past. And, then I start to just map out kind of a game plan, sort of like an outline of the direction that the season is going to go in.

Then I'm always sort of trying to find a concept – what the concept is – what “the girl” is going to be for this season. And you know sometimes the inspiration comes like that – I will just see something walking down the street and I'll go “that's it.”

And some years I can't find an inspiration, so I have to turn everything upside down.

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