Nikita Sernack, the Australian designer behind cult evening brand Nookie, recently debuted her new fashion brand, Rumer, at Afterpay Australian Fashion Week earlier this month to a full house of industry professionals.
The range of elevated daywear is built on considered production practices and aims to deliver both timeless and stylish pieces.
Sernack has found success in Australia and internationally in her career to date, securing deals with major stockists including Bloomingdale’s and Revolve.
Here, she shares an insight into her career path as a fashion designer, why she resisted the pressures to manufacture offshore and the business learnings that influenced the creation of Rumer.
Inside Retail: How did your career in fashion start out?
Nikita Sernack: Nookie started life as a collaboration with a good friend, Brooke – that’s where you get Nookie (Brooke & Niki). She was only involved for the first few years as the label’s aesthetic was taking form and then it was me at the helm. As it happened, my father’s family had a long history in the Australian fashion business so maybe there was something in the genes.
IR: Did you have much experience/support around you when you launched Nookie in 2005?
NS: I had been working in the events industry and Brooke had studied design so at the beginning, while we had a lot to learn, there was a base to build on. Family support was crucial to getting started. My dad has been a mentor from the start and still is.
IR: How have consumer demands changed since then?
NS: Probably the biggest change has been the online marketplace. We still have a significant percentage of the business through bricks-and-mortar retailers. In America, for instance, Bloomingdale’s is a substantial customer. Online and the use of social media has really enabled the Nookie brand to reach far and wide with a very committed and engaged following of #nookiegirls around the globe.
IR: What have been the big business learnings from Nookie?
NS: In the early years the business went through all the pains that most growing small businesses experience. We make in Australia and resisted the pressure to go overseas to provide higher margins or lower prices to major stores. I wanted to build a brand that our customers could rely on for quality, fit and style and that was more important than fast sales at rock bottom prices. Brand building, consistency and integrity have paid off. We have been able to fund our growth ourselves, build solid relationships with our suppliers and most importantly loyalty with our Nookie girls.
IR: What inspired the creation of Rumer?
NS: Whilst a challenging time, the past year presented a rare stillness where I was able to reflect, explore and draw upon my experience whilst expanding into this new creative venture. I’m very grateful to be in a position to launch Rumer, given the challenging circumstances we all endured. However, as it often is the case, it is the challenges that fuel our tenacity, inspire creativity and help us to evolve. I’m proud to be exploring and expanding into a new offering that speaks to my own personal evolution as well.
In contrast to Nookie, I wanted to create elevated daywear that empowers women and makes them feel effortlessly captivating. Supporting local and Australian suppliers has always been a core business objective for me. Rumer continues to facilitate that with a deeper considered approach.
IR: Can you explain a bit about the philosophy of this brand and its considered production practices?
NS: Both Rumer and Nookie are 100 per cent Australian made. It’s something that has always been important to me. Using quality natural fabrics, sourcing recycled fibres, choosing locally made (always), reducing wastage, repurposing cut offs and giving back is in the DNA of Rumer. We engage with an amazing community of makers in the greater Sydney area with quality working environments and support for their teams. We are so close to our production, it shows in the quality and energy of the product.
IR: How do you ensure that timeless fashion pieces can continue to satisfy consumer demand for new and exciting styles?
NS: The Rumer customer is quality driven and will shop for what makes her feel beautiful and confident. While designs are classic and timeless, they are created to be treasured and woven into individual styles lasting season after season.
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