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Female Disruptors: Nataliya Nova On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Don’t overestimate how many hours per day you can work and be productive. Don’t fool yourself that you can learn something new easily. You will go anyway though a path when you need to overcome obstacles 24/7, don’t make it more complicated. Find people who can work part time or companies you can delegate to as much as possible.

As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Nataliya Nova.

After dedicating ten years to the media business for Cosmopolitan and Harper’s Bazaar in Ukraine, Nataliya moved to New York City where she transformed her career to fashion design. Growing up in Ukraine, Nataliya was immersed in a culture of handcrafted knitwear. The art of knitting has been passed down from generation to generation. Nataliya Nova has taken up the task of introducing the unknown Ukraine to the world through fashion and knitwear. Through her luxury accessory line, Nataliya Nova delivers impeccable accessories for every occasion, while paying homage to Ukraine.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I was always a very creative person. As a kid I was playing piano, performing in kids and school theater and my biggest passion was craftsmanship classes and creating clothes for my dolls. Crochet, knitting, and making clothes is my cultural heritage, we learn it in school as part of an official program. I took it further; I was swapping these dolls’ clothes with my friends and sometimes the candies were my payment. It was my first entrepreneurial experience! In school it was very clear that besides being creative I’m also very intellectual at the same time. I finished high school with a gold medal for being excellent in all disciplines, you need to show top results all semesters during 3 years of high school.

Also I became a student of National Aviation University (computer engineering) with a scholarship before I even finished school. Very quickly I understood it’s not what I want to do in my life, but learning high math, physics and theory of probability is still helping me a lot. I was missing creativity and connecting with people, I was missing fashion so much! Cosmopolitan Harper’s Bazaar magazines became my next destination for 8 years. I worked closely with brands like Dior, Givenchy, Burberry, Bottega Veneta, Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci, Loro Piana, Graff, Harry Winston, Chopard and many others. They taught me a lot. Before I moved to NYC my last few years were dedicated to working as a co-publisher of CASAVIVA Italian design magazine. The biggest surprise for me was that Italian design week is a few times bigger than fashion week, and design trends are more advanced vs fashion. It took for me some time before I was able to realize my dream. When I moved to the US, I wanted to represent Ukrainian brands and show to the whole world how our culture is beautiful. But my professors strongly suggested that I create something of my own, I guess they saw a lot of talent and passion in me. I decided “now or never”. I felt like a kid in Disneyland. I learned how to work in a very sophisticated way with a color, visual representation, proportion, styling, production cycles. In terms of knitting techniques and working with the yarns I felt like I’m the one who can teach the students. This is how my 1st knitted designs saw a life!

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

Helping people and staying connected with my cultural heritage, quality is my vision. I believe in slow fashion, we used to live with such a consumption mindset without even realizing what we wear, why we make those decisions. It should be changed. With our choices we set the direction. People are much more powerful than they think. By choosing the brands with the values, they change the world. I call it the power of small steps. Actually, the consumers set the trends and fashion companies just respond to that through veer vision, not the other way around as we used to think.

I see clearly how it is hard for emerging designers and startups to survive even if they have brilliant ideas and nice products. The rate of failure in fashion is about 96%. I went through a lot of stuff and am still going, but I already see how many things can be done in a more efficient way. Many brands are approaching me to help them, and I deeply would love to do it. It needs to be teamwork. When you see all that passion, commitments, and willingness to give to the world a beautiful and sustainable product, your heart melts. I know what it takes.

Working in the fashion media industry I met with many talented, experienced, and influential people around the world, i want to create a team which will help other sustainable brands with unicorn products to be successful and not to be a part of 96%. Only by working together and supporting each other can we make it work.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I didn’t know how big team of a team I would need; I also didn’t clearly know what my personal capacity was. It was my shift from working in corporation to become an interpreter and I used to have all business structure: financial, distribution, marketing department, secretary, driver etc. When you are by your own it’s a very different story. Don’t overestimate how many hours per day you can work and be productive. Don’t foolish yourself that you can learn something new easily. You will go anyway though a path when you need to overcome obstacles 24/7, don’t make it even more complicated. Find people who can work part time or companies you can delegate to as much as possible.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

I don’t necessarily believe in mentoring. I believe in learning particular skills and exploring other people’s experiences. No one on this planet knows you better vs you, you need to have integrity: mindset, feelings, actions. Mentor can’t do it, that’s your job.

You can’t repeat other people’s path, we all are unique in our own way. I learned to take the responsibilities for my life and decisions without expecting other people to save me from myself. In Ukraine we have a saying “don’t look for your answers on other people’s plates”. Only you know what works for you the best. Very often you might consider advice partly, whatever you hear or see need to go through your own filter based on you personality.

When I was studying at FIT, I went through different internships, working during NYC Fashion Week I saw how different brands manage their runway shows and presentation. Also having an internship in a couple of showrooms in NYC I worked closely with the owner and went through all stages of working with trade shows and wholesale models. When you learn from someone, always ask “what to do” and “what not to do”.

You also need to learn how to say NO if you see that the opportunity doesn’t give you that much without any apology. Remember, from your mentor (I prefer call people advisors) whatever you hear it’s a suggestion, you need to make your own decisions.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

In every event you can see a certain duality. Disrupting forces us to change, adapt, evolve, learn new skills. It’s called life! If you can handle it, you’ll get stronger and a lovely prize is waiting for you, if not it will hurt you. You know, success is not what you achieve, it’s who you become!

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

  1. Don’t overestimate how many hours per day you can work and be productive. Don’t fool yourself that you can learn something new easily. You will go anyway though a path when you need to overcome obstacles 24/7, don’t make it more complicated. Find people who can work part time or companies you can delegate to as much as possible.
  2. Whatever you plan for your business will always take more time, more money, and more efforts. Be ready for that.
  3. Human factor. This aspect is huge. You rely on people, and they don’t do every time what they promise. Even if they say “yes we have/yes we can” it’s not necessarily will be true. Go into details, ask when, how they will execute, check their midterm results. You should always be ready to replace something or someone in very short period of time. If 1st time job was done great, it doesn’t mean 2nd time will be same. Success in the past doesn’t guarantee success in the future with the same person or company.

The other part of human’s factor is everyone will try to give you an advice (even your dentist), at the early stage you are very vulnerable, make sure you ask opinions from people who know your business or potential customers. All of this advice can take you out of your direction, you need to learn how to filter what is valuable recommendation and what is just a noise! Stay solid!

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

Helping people and staying connected with my cultural heritage, quality is my vision. I believe in slow fashion, we used to live with such a consumption mindset without even realizing what we wear, why we make those decisions. It should be changed. With our choices we set the direction. People are much more powerful than they think. By choosing the brands with the values, they change the world. I call it the power of small steps. The consumers set the trends and fashion companies just respond to that through veir vision, not the other way around as we used to think.

I see clearly how it is hard for emerging designers and startups to survive even if they have brilliant ideas and nice products. The rate of failure in fashion is about 96%. I went through a lot of stuff and am still going, but I already see how many things can be done in a more efficient way. Many brands are approaching me to help them, and I deeply would love to do it. It needs to be teamwork. When you see all that passion, commitments, and willingness to give to the world a beautiful and sustainable product, your heart melts. I know what it takes.

Working in the fashion media industry I met with many talented, experienced, and influential people around the world, i want to create a team which will help other sustainable brands with unicorn products to be successful and not to be a part of 96%. Only by working together and supporting each other can we make it work.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

Researches show that man’s brain is more structured vs woman’s one, and woman’s has higher EQ vs mans. I clearly see that very often for the man it is easier to get from point A to point B without any sentiments. As women we have more developed emotions and feelings, and you need to know how to balance your life between family, career and social life. The last thing I want is to feel like a man being a woman in a business. Leadership is a new thing for a woman in our society and I see that a lot of women are trying to borrow men’s model of behaviour, intensity, and aggression, they think it makes them stronger. Standing for our rights we didn’t realize how many things got lost. Maternity and family values got devalued so much. Nature created us in a different and complementary way at the same time, but we are ignoring it more and more. If you are a woman and running the biggest company in the world, stay faminin, it’s beautiful!

The other thing that surprised me a lot is to hear particularly from the men a comment “You are a very opinionated woman”. It’s hard to imagine a man being blamed for having his opinion and beliefs. Man has his ego, and it’s much more sensitive than women’s. Also I have to admit that I met a lot of men who actually are very respectful, loyal and supportive, especially the ones who have daughters.

Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?

It’s a good question. Your mindset is your everything! I’m a big fan of psychology and neurobiology. We are patterns creatures. One of the biggest surprises was for me to discover that the same pattern can have different faces in professional, personal and social life. It’s a real investigation to understand the core of your beliefs. Self Awareness is extremely powerful. We are blind about ourselves. Only in close relationships we are able to see an unrecognized part of our personality. One of my favorite books is “Attached”, you will discover fundamental patterns of human behaviour in relationships. It will give you a lot of clarity and peace of mind.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

It will be a movement “Share your knowledge”. Basically speaking let’s learn from each other, no matter what age you are and where are you from. God gave to all of us talents.

I always believed that you need to be surrounded by people who are older and younger than you are. The world is changing so quickly, it’s impossible to catch up with everything, you can’t hug a whole planet. Besides working with much older and experienced people I end up hiring very young people and learn from them! One of their complaints was that people used to devalue their experience, look at them down because of their age, that’s unfair! You never know who will influence you and your business the most.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I have 2. “Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the face”, “What is the difference between a medicine and poison? Dose!”

How can our readers follow you online?

People can get in touch with me by visiting our website https://nataliyanova.com/ and our social media channels https://www.instagram.com/nataliyanova/

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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