With support from online fashion heavyweights like Refinery 29, Who What Wear, Nylon, and the Zo Report, CurriculumShop.com is quickly making a name for itself in the world of digital fashion retailers. Since its start two years, founder Nicki Podvalej has been driven by her inspirations, entrepreneurial spirit, and the insightful advice of those close to her. Keep reading to learn more about her process and what keys to her success we can all apply to our lives.
LoveMirian: Do you live your life in general going with your gut and following your instincts?
Nicki Podvalej: In most cases. Obviously you make mistakes and you learn from them. And that changes your gut because now you’ve had this experience that’s taught you something. But I’m never afraid to make those mistakes and I value them so much now.
In the past if I made a mistake or did something crazy that I looked back on and regretted, I hated that feeling. I never wanted to have it again. But now, the more I push myself, the more likely it is I’m going to make a mistake, but the closer I am to getting to something fantastic.
LM: Where do you get your inspiration for the store from?
NP: Literature inspires me because of this idea that everything should have thoughtfulness. That’s the underlying string that brings everything together, connecting me with my customers and the people in my life.
When my husband an I first met, he was a nuclear engineer for the government and I was working a very corporate job. As we got to know each other we both realized that we had no interest in living that life. What we actually wanted was the freedom of time, so we both started our own businesses. That’s the driving motivation behind what I do. The freedom of time and creativity to do what I want when I want. That’s not something I think you should compromise, even though it’s so easy to compromise that stuff.
LM: Since the store’s opening, what has been your biggest accomplishment?
NP: People are overwhelmed with the idea of running a business independently because you have to do everything. The accounting, the PR, the buying, the analysis, the planning. One of the things I was most proud of was being able to reach out to editors and writers from publications I really loved and getting a lot of amazing feedback and coverage. I thought it would be super difficult, I thought I wouldn’t have access to those people, that they wouldn’t even consider me because I was so small. But it was amazing to have their support.
LM: What is some of the best advice you’ve received?
NP: When I brought up this idea to start the store, it was just something in the back of my head. I kept coming across brands I loved, but when I tried to find them they’d only be available in Australia and logistically it didn’t make sense to have to pay $60 dollars in shipping charges.
Over dinner one day I casually brought it up to my husband and he said “Well why don’t you just do it?” It was such an obvious question to ask someone. I thought to myself ‘Why don’t I? What is it that stops me and everyone else from jumping into something like this?’ Financially it’s a pretty big risk. You have to invest a lot of money to get it going. He said, “You invested about $50,000 into your university education without even thinking about it.”
It’s such a normal thing. To get a student loan for school when you’re only 18 and you have no idea what you really want to be doing. You don’t really think about it. But when you want to invest in yourself to launch something that could change your life, it’s suddenly this big question.
LM: What advice would you give to someone inspired by your story?
NP: You have to invest in yourself and not be afraid. We’re always so terrified to invest in ourselves personally, but yet constantly spend money on other things that won’t bring us the same satisfaction. Strongly define your idea and your vision. Know exactly what it is you want to do and how you’re different from anyone else. Then get out there and get to know people because those are going to be your first supporters. Then the more supporters you have in your industry, the easier it will be for you to do well.
Everyone’s path to success is different. Nicki’s included positions in communications, retail planning and more before she decided to take a chance and bet on herself. Lately her advice, both given and received, is ringing more and more true to me as I get ready to embark on new chapters in my life. I can’t wait to share what I have in the works but until then, just know I too am betting on myself in a new and exciting way.
If you haven’t yet, catch up on the full story by reading part one of our chat. Then stop by CurriculumShop.com to see more gorgeous pieces like this off the shoulder blazer and pant set I’m wearing here.