How Designer Misha Nonoo Is 'Leading by Example:' 'The Nicest Women Are the Most Successful'
"While our brand is a fashion brand, I see myself as a designer that’s filling a space for women who really want to have the freedom to live a full and fulfilling life," says Misha Nonoo
“Know your worth. Then add tax.” “What’s a girl’s favorite position? CEO.” “Start unknown. Finish unforgettable.” These are just a few of the quotes fashion designer Misha Nonoo has displayed on the walls of her new pop-up shop in N.Y.C.
“They are quotes that I’ve accumulated over time that are my absolute favorites,” she tells PEOPLE from her SoHo shop. “They are the basis of the value of the brand — it’s about being ambitious, having the freedom to live life on the terms you choose and it’s really about designing the life that you want to live.”
Nonoo’s four month-long pop-up, which opened this week, is a go-to destination for sustainable styling advice, informative events and panels along with intimate workshops.
“We see ourselves as being part of the community — and this woman doesn’t have that many places to go to either be mentored or build her network with like-minded women, so we wanted to have a space that also felt like a place where you can really build your network,” Nonoo says.
Customers will also be able to participate in yoga and meditation classes and hear from speakers like Bobbi Brown and Tracy Anderson.
“It’s about really thinking through this woman’s mindset and the way she looks after herself from the inside — not just how she clothes herself on the outside,” Nonoo adds. “While our brand is a fashion brand, I see myself as a designer that’s filling a space for women who really want to have the freedom to live a full and fulfilling life.”
The fashion designer, who was born in Bahrain, raised in London and now lives in N.Y.C., is one of the loudest voices in her industry when it comes to supporting other women. Along with pieces from her “Create Your 8” collection, the pop-up will also house an assortment of products from female-founded brands such as The Laundress, Sarah Flint, Bee&Kin, Negative Underwear and more.
“I think you just have to lead by example,” she says. “It’s always the nicest women that I meet who are the most successful. I genuinely can’t imagine not trying to help people wherever possible, especially when you see someone who is such a great candidate and has the courage to ask for help. When somebody asks for help it’s hard to not be able to give them advice.”
Nonoo manufactures her styles on demand, meaning that no item is made until an order is placed. This sustainable switch was an important undertaking for her.
“The idea of sustainability is becoming so critical to our generation,” she says. “I support people who are talented or creative, but I think you can use your creativity for ways outside of just designing a pretty dress and think about how you impact the industry and the environment at large.”
Nonoo is about to make a big impact across the pond when friend Meghan Markle launches her Smart Works capsule collection on Thursday in London. The designer partnered with Meghan on the line, which benefits the royal’s patronage Smart Works, a charity that helps women find employment with coaching tips and professional attire for their job interviews.
She has been a close friend of Meghan’s for several years and attended her royal wedding to Prince Harry last year and her baby shower in N.Y.C. in February. Nonoo has long run in royal circles (Princess Eugenie was even in attendance at her pop-up launch event on Monday!).
Meghan also wore one of Nonoo’s designs — “The Husband Shirt” during her first public appearance alongside Harry at the Toronto Invictus Games in 2017.
“Everybody loves a good white button-down and this idea of a versatile piece that works for every woman,” she says. “You can wear this shirt with jeans or tucked into a chic black trouser. That’s one of the reasons it has been so successful.”
As for the name, she adds: “It’s from the oversized nature of the shirt — and there’s nothing sexier than stealing your boyfriend or husband’s shirt and wearing it.”
Nonoo, who announced her engagement to entrepreneur Michael Hess earlier this year, is getting ready to walk down the aisle herself. And when it comes to her wedding dress, she initially had more ideas than she could handle.
“It was really hard actually,” she says. “When I’m designing a piece, I’m usually thinking about every woman. It has to tick a lot of boxes. When you’re thinking about designing something that you’re going to wear for one day and you have to really only think about yourself, it’s different.
“Obviously, you want your husband to think you look beautiful and you want your respective families to as well, but otherwise you can do whatever you want — you can have short sleeves, long sleeves, high neck, low neck, open back, no back. It makes it much more challenging. I like to design with a set of parameters. It took awhile for me to come to what it was going to be in the end. I had some ideas initially. I knew I wanted it to be traditional. So I’ve opted for two dresses, so I can tick both boxes!”