Nikia, one of Chicago’s friendliest and most genuine people that quickly enters your heart (Arabic saying). Born & raised on the South Side of Chicago, Nikia has grown up with prominent role models- her mother and grandfather.
‘To this day, they can go anywhere and befriend anyone, from a cashier to a security guard, in a matter of seconds. More important than intellect is the ability to relate and communicate with others and my mom and grandfather are masters at that. I’m still trying to get halfway to their level’.
Warm and approachable as one can find. I found Nikia online while looking for successful Chicagoans to chat with about style in the city but I managed to get to know another side of this cool mom- not only stylish but a successful blogger, career woman, proud wife and a mother to a beautiful boy. Style wise, Nikia has always had an obsession for shoes and fashion, specifically those of young/up and coming designers, ‘I honestly can’t remember when I started falling in love with fashion. I do remember, however, being extremely young and wanting to always play dress up in my mom’s jewelry. I guess that was around the age of 7 or 8’.
Growing up in Chicago, she thought she’d seen it all ‘I started noticing “trends” in the late 80s and early 90s. During that time, it was all about the denim being produced by urban brands like Cross Colours, Used, Damaged, and Girbaud. In my neighborhood, you weren’t cool if you didn’t own something from at least one of those brands.’ This was until she spent some time in London, on a work assignment, living in boho Notting Hill, right by Portobello Markets. Her visits around Europe and her stay in the UK fueled her desire to express her fashion obsessions and trend interests through a fashion blog. Upon her return Chicago the CHITOWNFASHIONISTA was born- Nikia’s unique creative outlet on current trends & obsessions relevant to Chicagoans as well as promoting local shops and local designers that generally do not get enough exposure.
We walked around Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo only to chat. In her own words, Nikia’s style is: ‘Classic, Bold, Colorful’. Sporting one of the cutest and most genuine smiles, Nikia talked to me a little about Chicago and her fashionable heart:
When did you start your blog and why?
I started my blog almost five years ago. It was quite a few months after I returned from an 8-month work assignment in London. While living there, I became entrenched in the markets and local designer scene, and decided that Chicago needed a platform for the local fashion scene to gain exposure. After taking time to figure out what that platform would be, I decided to launch a blog, as it was the quickest and most cost-effective way to do it.
What do you think of Chicago and it’s art scene?
I adore Chicago’s art scene. The community is very much supportive of one another. The talent here is unparalleled. Unfortunately, we have to work twice as hard as those in cities like NYC and L.A. to garner mainstream attention.
Why Chicago and what’s unique about it?
Simply put, Chicago is real. If you can survive in Chicago (especially when it comes to art and music), you can survive anywhere.
How has Chicago helped your career?
In terms of fashion blogging, it has allowed me to find my voice. In some cities, the blogging world is so saturated, it’s difficult to set yourself apart. In Chicago, it’s easier to distinguish yourself from the pack and find your niche.
Who is your fashion icon(s)
I‘m inspired by so many people. But if I had to pick, it would be Tracee Ellis Ross and Miroslava Duma.
Any timeless tips?
When it comes to shopping, always try to buy things you love and that work well with a multitude of things in your closet, regardless of the price. A leather handbag and a great pair of pumps. I believe that is where majority of anyone’s wardrobe budget should be spent. You can always cut corners when it comes to clothing. But shoes and bags help to elevate a look and create the perfect high-low balance.
We kept exploring the park until we started getting peckish. I obviously got lost but Nikia managed to find our way out ‘I’m somewhat of a math whiz and also a human navigation system (put me in any city, and I’ll never get lost)!’. We sat on a bench and I thought a little bit more about ‘finding your own voice’ in the blogosphere, bringing me to ask her a question about challenges in life. I asked her about her life’s biggest challenge and how she managed to overcome it?
One of the most challenging times in my life is when my newborn son was in the NICU. There is nothing like being unable to immediately take your baby home from the hospital. He spent three weeks in the NICU and visiting him everyday began to take a toll on both me and my husband. It was an emotional roller coaster, going from thinking you can finally take him home to being informed that he has to stay a few more days. I was able to overcome it by having the most supportive and loving husband by my side. Family and friends were also there to keep our spirits lifted and remind us to rely on our faith that he would be home in due time and when he was 100% healthy. We wouldn’t have made it through that time without them.
Best quote you live by?
“Know your worth.” This has become increasingly important in the blogging world, but can also be applied to every day life. When you know and understand the value of YOU, you won’t accept anything less.