Misha Nonoo draws from a deep well of ambition. The Bahrain-born, UK-raised New Yorker bucks norms and forges her own trends at her label, the self-titled Misha Nonoo. She is a fashionista’s fashionista.
CONVICTS caught up with Nonoo at her office to get her word on risk-taking, the significance of her international background, and the reasons fashion needed some shaking up.
Hey Misha, to start, tell us what the life is like as the head of a fashion label.
What’s it really like? It’s a lot less glamorous than it seems. I love what I do and that’s why I do it. I want Misha Nonoo to be an umbrella for the things that are important to me, and it won’t just be about a fashion brand but it will be a philanthropic organisation and something that can positively affect change.
Where do you begin that larger project of change?
It starts with dressing women, and affecting their wardrobe, but it’s ultimately how can you affect people on a greater scale. Not just my end customer, but the ways she can affect people through wearing and buying the collection. That’s really a focus for me because as a person I am super multifaceted, and therefore I think that the brand also has to be indicative of that. Getting caught up in the glamour of the fashion industry is persuasive, but you know you are running a business all day everyday. You have overheads and costs and you are responsible for people.
What have been some of your career highlights?
Three and a half years ago when I got into the Vogue Fashion Fund. The industry has changed so much since then, but that was a real highlight, and anytime that you get to work with people who are as talented and as professional as Anna Wintour and her team that really brings you to the top of your game. The insta show and the moment that idea came to mind was certainly a highlight. And the afterglow. Going direct to consumer has been a massive highlight because I feel like I am actually in control of the business, and that’s something that is really important to me.
Talk a bit about the risks you have to take in the industry?
You are constantly walking a very very fine line and I personally find that exciting. I find it really stimulating. Doing all these things over social media like our runway show, I could’ve gotten myself into trouble there. It could have gone tits up and been a complete disaster and I was lucky that it didn’t.
What would you be doing if you weren’t in fashion?
Oh my goodness, this changes all the time. One day I’m like, ‘Oh I’d be a nutritionist. I don’t know, maybe I’d work in venture capital.’ I think I’d probably always be entrepreneurial in some way, I have business ideas all the time that I give to other people. I am still fairly young and I’ve been running this organisation for several years. Will I do this forever? Potentially. Or maybe I’ll sell it and move onto something else, or maybe I’ll roll the other ideas I have. You just don’t know. I think that now you actually have the opportunity to have several careers in one lifetime, that’s really exciting.
Talk a bit about what the phrase ‘convict spirit’ means to you?
You know, it’s really funny. For me it means, a warm reception. I love London and I go back all the time, but I don’t know that I would have been able to do there what I have done here. I think that in America people welcome you with open arms and there’s that idea of the American dream, coming here with next to nothing and setting up and creating. Maybe I could have done it in England, but there’s been a really really warm reception here. I don’t know if that’s because Americans are very friendly and enthusiastic. I don’t know what I put it down to, but I really love living in New York and I’m not sure that I could see myself living anywhere else for the time being.
Right on. Lastly tell us how you decompress?
I like to do sports. I workout. I have my little dog Thatcher who is my escape. I have amazing friendships and relationships. I’m super social. The thing for me is that my brain never switches off. It’s constantly going and that can be exhausting. The main thing that I’ve found is meditation. It’s really changed everything in my life, it’s remarkable, so I am a big proponent.
Thanks for your time Misha. Best of luck with everything.