It is considered a blessing to know what you want to do at a young age. For Tori Nichel it was fashion and she is happy she had the direction early in life. The influence of fashion and style came from her mother’s side of the family.
“My mom, aunt and grandmother were all very stylish. I would always tag along when they went shopping,” she said. Nichel would consistently immerse herself in her mom’s fashion magazines. “I would look at all of the designers’ names and I made up my own fashion stage name. I called myself Toto Gibbitini.”
Attending West Bloomfield High School, Tori Nichel created her own path when it came to expanding her knowledge in fashion. It was her teacher and mentor that sealed the deal.
“I read an article about a woman named Christiane, she was teaching fashion classes. I called her, and she was hesitant to take me as a student because I was 16 years old. I convinced her to give me a chance and she did,” she said. With that chance came a lot of inside information about the business. “She mentally and skillfully prepared me for a career in fashion.”
Nichel studied with Christiane until her junior year in college. With a strong foundation from her mentor, she was ready to take her dream and talents to New York.
After completing her degrees from Michigan State University and Fashion Institute of Technology, Dana Bachman was Nichel’s first job in fashion where she worked in the fabric research department. Her talents led her to Kenneth Cole where she worked on the launch of the women’s spring collection and then she continued honing her craft at Tibi. The experiences led her to acquire the expertise that she needed to start her own line.
In 2006 Tori Nichel, the collection, was born. The brand represented a woman of chic sophistication and confidence. With a successful run, business shifted that led her to take a break in 2008.
“I wanted to come back at the right time with a solid infrastructure,” she said.
Still working in the industry, she put her designs on hold. As she started to think of her relaunch another opportunity came about that was a clear confirmation that she needed to continue along her path: “I received an e-mail from a friend of a friend regarding NBC’s Fashion Star, I was a bit hesitant, but I sent in the video and e-mail and I was invited to the open call and the rest is history,” she said.
The show gives 12 young designers the chance to win a multimillion dollar prize of launching their original collections in three of the nation’s largest fashion retailers. This opportunity came at the right time, as she was going through shifts and challenges in her business and reflecting on her life. She did pull on faith and the strength of her family values.
“My dad and grandfather always told us to be strong. They would remind us that we are resilient and we could get through anything,” she said. She remembered those values as she was designing her new line that will be launching in the summer of 2013.
“The line will be solely a collection of dresses. This is so personal to me because each dress is named after a woman that I know personally that has been through an obstacle and persevered.”
This collection is a reminder to Tori Nichel that she has been blessed. She says, “Regardless of how hard it gets, never give up and stay focused. If you want to live out your dream you must work hard.”