We love handbag designer Nikki Duong Koenig for her creativity in not only her work, but the process and thought behind how she does it. We are thrilled to get to premiere her latest collection at this year’s upcoming Fashion for a Passion!
Cykochik Custom-Handbags was first conceived in Nikki’s small Southern Methodist University dorm room. While living in Dallas and working on her BA in Advertising and Fine Art, she naturally combined her passion for fashion and art to produce an innovative line of custom handbags.
With Cykochik earning its position as a booming handbag label, Nikki then jetted off to New York City’s Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). While there, she was able to hone her design and business skills in the CEO program.
Much of Nikki’s vibrant aesthetic is drawn from her experiences in NYC, photography, art, nature and her Vietnamese heritage. When it comes to fashion, she follows her own instincts instead of trends, since styles/trends are in a constant state of reinvention. As is everything in life, hence the “cycle” in the name Cykochik.
Nikki is a fervent believer in individualism and the freedom to express it, without endangering others in the process. She works only with animal & eco-friendly vinyls and is dedicated to quality craftsmanship, creativity and customization.
Nikki Duong Koenig
What does it mean for you to “Go Against The Grain?”
It’s a state-of-mind, being able to trust/follow my instincts and not second-guessing myself despite external obstacles or influences. We should all “Go Against the Grain,” so that there is no grain to have to go against.
What made you decide to pursue a career in the fashion/handbag industry?
Like most designers, I was immersed in fashion and creativity growing up. So it was both nature and nurture that brought me into two very creative industries, fashion and advertising. The latter was a conscious decision to study at SMU, while handbag designing occurred more organically as I was pursuing a career in advertising.
What have been some of the challenges you faced/lessons you learned as an Asian American in a very competitive industry?
I try to look at challenges as opportunities to learn valuable lessons and grow. It’s something I face two-folds as an Asian American woman in the very competitive fashion and advertising industries. I guess I share the same blessing/curse as most Asian American women in looking much younger than they really are. So it’s a minor challenge to get the initial respect I need in a corporate setting, but I’ve learned to establish/prove my experience very early on.
What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment, and why?
Getting to do what I love and being able to support myself and others while doing it.
What do you hope to achieve?
I hope to inspire others and to make a positive impact with my art/designs.
Who inspires you?
My family. Their strength and courage in leaving Vietnam to brave a whole new world is a constant inspiration for me to pursue my dreams.
What is the most important lesson/advice you would give?
“Just Do It” like Nike, because nothing will happen unless you start it.
What’s up next?
Working with six amazing artists on the second Artist Series Collection, which will be debuting at Fashion For A Passion Sept. 25th!