Our Brand Spotlight highlights small and up-and-coming clothing and accessory brands and their female founders. In this edition, we interviewed Christina Rampone, the founder of Nive Girl, an affordable workwear shop.
Nive Girl is a Business Casual boutique for women that want to make an investment in themselves and their wardrobe. They believe clothing can be used as an instrument to boost a woman’s confidence and self-image. Nive Girl customers come with the intention of owning their clothes for years, not months.
We’re so excited to offer our readers an exclusive 20% discount for your entire purchase on nivegirl.com with code WORKWEAR20. We’ve highlighted some of our favorite affordable workwear pieces below. Simply click the photo to shop!
Nive Girl founder Christina Rampone talks to Workwear Inspiration about starting her affordable workwear shop, her goal to make a mentor-match program for women and the future of office wear.
Firstly, why did you start Nive Girl?
When I began my career after graduating, I found that there was a bit of a gap in the market for business casual clothing. As a student, I was purchasing most of my clothing from Zara, H&M and at times, Forever 21 (don’t judge me). But after graduating and earning a full-time salary, I began to prioritize quality over quantity. While J.Crew and Banana Republic became my go-to stores for business items, I found they seemed to cater to an older demographic and eventually, I began sharing clothes with my mom. Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE some good shopping hauls with mom, but when I took a step back and looked around, I’d find myself surrounded by women in their 40s and 50s when shopping.
As someone in my 20s, I wanted to wear younger-looking items without sacrificing professionalism and quality. I searched for unique, high-quality business casual items but found that the fast-fashion items didn’t hold up over time and the boutiques that sold a few business items required time to search through pages of inventory online or racks of clothing in-store. Some girls love a good hunt when shopping for new pieces, but I found that when looking for new business wear, I just wished there was one store that had everything in one place. There didn’t seem to be one store that ONLY sold the business casual items that I was in search of.
Who is your target customer?
Nive Girl’s target customer is the working woman, generally between the ages of 20 and 35. However, I try to make the pieces as versatile as possible so that women that are out of that age range are interested in the products as well.
Sienna Nude Skirt ($60)
How many people are on your team and how do you rely on them?
Nive Girl is a party of one at the moment – but, I am hiring for some freelance marketing roles! One of the biggest pieces of advice that I’ve received since starting this business is that it’s so important to play to your strengths. Since I have a background in accounting, I’m much more inclined to focus on the finances first and place the marketing role in second. However, I’m hoping that as I begin to delegate tasks, I can re-direct my focus on the overall future direction of the business.
What is your favorite item?
My favorite item by far is the Juniper Tweed Peplum Jacket! I think tweed is such a timeless fabric and the neutral tones allow the jacket to pair easily with just about any outfit. There’s also just something about owning a good blazer that fits like a glove, flatters you in all of the right places, and makes you feel like a million bucks – and the Juniper Tweed Jacket does that for me.
Juniper Tweed Peplum Jacket ($60)
What inspires you creatively?
Lately, I’ve been so inspired by reading memoirs and listening to podcasts of other entrepreneurs that have built their own businesses and their trials and tribulations in doing so. More times than not, they found their creativity to be strongest when their backs were against the wall with seemingly nothing to lose. My favorite podcasts to listen to include: How I Built This with Guy Raz and Entrepreneurs on Fire with John Lee Dumas.
What is the biggest challenge you face running your brand?
As a boutique that sells primarily business casual items, it’s been a challenge determining whether to offer more “work from home” business items or actual in-office business casual items. While some companies have begun returning back to the office, I think that the majority of the market is still working remotely at the moment. However, it’s hard to predict what the future will hold for the fall/winter in terms of the continuation of remote working vs. returning to work. To help in selecting the most practical items, I’m beginning to rely more on the opinions of my customers by incorporating them into the process of narrowing down the fall and winter collections.
Capri Color Block Cardigan ($60)
Where do you see your brand in the future?
I want to start by mentioning that in the past, the infamous “five-year plan” question would usually warrant an eye-roll from me – especially when I was just beginning my career. Personally, I think it was because 99% of the time the question was usually asked by a job interviewer, so my answer usually needed to include something along the lines of working my way up the ranks and devoting my life and livelihood to a particular company or vision. While I can honestly say that each and every one of the companies I’ve worked for I genuinely enjoyed and believed in, I couldn’t bring myself to “drink the corporate Kool-Aid”.
It took me a few years after graduating to come to terms with the fact that my five-year plan does not end in being employed by someone else! Preparing for your future and developing some sort of vision is so, so important. But if you’re struggling to envision your future five years from now, maybe take a step back to make sure you’re not looking at your life and future through somebody else’s lens.
To answer your ACTUAL question – I see the future of my brand in a couple ways; I see it as a go-to online clothing store for women who are either beginning their careers in corporate America or taking the leap in beginning their own business. And I also see it as a resource for women who want to advance in their careers.
Tell us about your goal to create a mentor match program for women.
One of the things that I believe is essential to any successful career or business is finding the right mentor to guide you in the right direction. After completing high school or some level of higher education, I think we all reach this point where we ask ourselves, “now what?” and experience some sort of an existential crisis. We’ve spent our entire lives we’ve been told what to do, how to succeed, and have been more or less aware of what the next year of our lives entailed.
With that being said, the one thing that I wish I had when experiencing such uprooting was a mentor. Sure – there are some ways to begin searching for mentors, whether you look on LinkedIn or rely on old college professors to span their network for a good match. But I really felt like there was a lack of mentorship, especially amongst women, when entering the workforce. So, in the future I am planning to build out a mentor-match component to the business that allows for women in the workforce or young entrepreneurs to seek the help of more established women in the business world. I know it may sound pretty ambitious, but I believe that creating such a powerful tool can truly help connect women and foster a sense of community for years to come.
What’s your business superpower?
I would definitely say that my background as a CPA has given me a bit of an advantage when starting this business and running the day-to-day operations. I truly can’t imagine starting a business with absolutely no background in accounting or finance, so I think I’ve gained such an immense appreciation for entrepreneurs out there that have taken the reins on their business and independently learned how to navigate their own accounting and finances.
Charlie Tie Neck Dress ($55)
Finally, what’s one piece of advice you’d like to give working women?
Good enough is not good enough! Be honest with yourself. Sit yourself down and ask yourself whether your career still excites you. Does it make you feel fulfilled or allow for a sense of fulfillment in your life in other ways? Each and every one of us deserves a life of fulfillment, excitement and happiness. If you find that you’ve become complacent with accepting the status quo, or a job that merely “pays the bills”, ask yourself WHY. 2,000 hours a year is a lot of time to be wasting on a career that doesn’t make you feel alive.
I’m not saying you should go out and quit your job tomorrow. But I think that each and every one of us owe it to ourselves to pursue our passions – whether they be in the capacity of a side hustle or a full-time business!
One of our featured OOTD’s, Maureen, wore the Sienna nude skirt in her Business Casual look – check it out here!
Thanks to Nive Girl for partnering with us on this post!
This post may contain affiliate links. We may receive a commission for purchases made through links from this post.