Nicole Doherty is a marketing and event services consultant with a knack for getting people inspired and excited about something. Since graduating from Georgetown University with a BSBA in Marketing, she’s been cultivating her skills passionately. With over 15 years of combined experience in advertising, marketing, sales, event planning and production, she founded her first consulting company five years ago, NicolePresents. She has produced all kinds of events within San Francisco, but most notable are her fashion trunk show events, involving cutting edge DJ’s, indie fashion designers, and innovative performers of all kinds. She has a talent for producing energetic, creative events in the greatest venues within San Francisco.
MG: So how old were you when you became interested in fashion and style?
MG: So who have been your greatest influences with fashion and with starting your own business.
ND: In fashion, my biggest influence would be someone like Irene Hernandez-Feiks of Chillin’ Productions. She was the one doing all the Chillin’ shows before anybody. She’s amazing. She was the first person in the city that was really doing trunk shows at a larger scale. Now she is doing them at Mezzanine. She was the first one in this city that was really supporting the independent fashion scene. So when I first started the trunk shows, I actually went to her and asked her if she could coach me on what she does. I helped her set up a couple of her events and then I told her I wanted to do it on a much smaller scale because I wanted my shows to be in an intimate environment, versus a huge event space. Plus I didn’t want to undertake too much. Just starting out and doing huge events I couldn’t support didn’t make sense to me. She grew her events over time. You just don’t start at Mezzanine, you have to start somewhere. She started out at 111 Minna Gallery and cultivated an audience that became consistent over time and grew. Consistency is really important. You can’t have one or two or three events and expect everyone to show up and it will be great. There are some events where you’ll have a couple hundred people and some where barely anyone shows up, and you can’t beat yourself up over it. Consistency over time actually builds your audience. She has been doing it for ten years! That’s a lot of trunk shows. I only have been doing it for a couple years in comparison.
MG: Haven’t you had your event planning business for five years?
ND: I have, but I have taken breaks to pursue other interests at different times. I took a break for a whole year from doing Burning Man shows, but those have grown incredibly. They started at Levende lounge. The following year they were at Cafe Cocomo. The third year they grew to a bigger venue at Mighty. Each year had more and more people in attendance. The last one we threw at Mighty had a thousand people in attendance. But it didn’t start there. The first one at Levende was small and popular. We then had to get a bigger venue. Smaller is intimate and fun.
MG: I heard that you’re moving to LA! What’s your plan with your move to LA? Are you going to maintain your business here in SF and work both cities?
ND: Initially. I still have contracts for July events. I’m doing marketing for the Wanderlust Yoga & Music Festival which is coming up in July and I’m doing the Superhero Street Fair, which is also in July. And then after that, I don’t know. I’m leaving the possibilities open for anything. I’ll still have my business. I’m also pursuing yoga teacher training in LA. Ideally I would primarily like to teach yoga.
I thought about doing yoga and event work within the Festival community. There are new festivals cropping up that combine my interests of Yoga, music and fashion, like Wanderlust.
I’m helping Wanderlust with marketing outreach to my network and contacts to spread knowledge of the festival to a wider demographic. They want to expand to the Burning Man community, for its interest in creativity. They’re striving for the festival to be more artistic, more collaborative, and more community driven.
MG: What’s your advice on this situation. I have a girlfriend who is unhappy with her job and she’s trying to do something else. She has a lot of different ideas within the fashion industry, but isn’t clear on what direction she should take. What should her next steps be?
ND: She needs to figure out where her interests lie and not be afraid to take chances. I’ve evolved so much over time that I could be a professional development coach. For me life always changes. I’ll start something and really love it and get super into it. Then a couple years later, I’ll be “did that, done that” and move on. I’m kind of a rare breed because I’ve done that many times in my life. I’m never one to stick to one thing because I’ll suck the marrow out of it, and then when I’m done… I’m done and I will move on. My mom is funny because she would say “in my days, people used to work at one job Nicole, their whole life!” I was like “oh God, how boring”. I thought that was the most boring thing. When you’re done with something, try something new. There are people out there like me that are risk takers.
You also need to be aware that you may not be “successful” right away. You have to take steps, gain skills, keep learning and keep striving. I’m happy if I’m always learning and experiencing. You don’t lose the skills you gain.
MG: And what might your next steps be?
ND: There’s a lot of trunk shows in LA. Sequoia and Gita from S&G Clothing just moved to LA to open a store. It’s not outside the realm of possibility to bring those Burning Man trunk shows down there. Our community is larger in SF, but theirs is expanding. They have the talent there. I know there’s a lot of designers here that would welcome the idea of traveling to LA for access to a broader market. It’s definitely a possibility.
MG: I like how things come to you naturally.
ND: One thing I’ve learned is to set goals and intentions, but don’t set things in stone, so that you close doors. My Buddhist philosophy is non-attachment to an outcome. Be open, let things come and they will unfold as they will, as long as your goals and intentions are clear.
If a project comes to me and it doesn’t feel right, then I won’t do it. I follow my intuition. Even if I need the money. I used to take on many projects just to take them on. I would say yes to everything, but would get disappointed sometimes that I said yes. I would follow through on projects, but I would put myself in positions that made me question why I took them in the first place. Now I follow my intuition.
Life is too short. We should enjoy our life and work. That’s why we’re here. To have joy in our lives and to be ever expanding and learning. Why paddle upstream when you can take the river downstream. Life can be easy. When you’re doing things that don’t feel right, you’re resisting and that makes life more difficult.
MG: It’s amazing that people stay in an unenjoyable situation.
ND: They like drama, I guess. But with the most successful people, you’ll always hear the common theme ‘it just happened’ or ‘I was just lucky’. They weren’t just lucky… they did things that felt right. They were passionate and clear about their intentions.
It wasn’t until the last year or two, that I started to listen to my own advice. I started to meditate and ask people if I can thing about things and get back to them, instead of being reactionary. I was being more visionary and mindful.. I never would have done that before.
MG: What has been a common thread for you within your career changes?
ND: I’ve done lots of different things and it ultimately boiled down to relationships and being inspiring. Anything moving forward in my life will always be about people and relationships. That’s why I’m drawn to the healing arts and yoga, getting down to the core of humanity. Finding out what it is that people love to do.
MG: So, what are your favorite pieces in your wardrobe?
ND: I want to say all my Burning Man costumes. I don’t make clothes, although designers ask me why I don’t design considering all I have done for this. I’m really inspired by design and the creativity. Costumes are an expression of your personality. It represents who you are. Some days I like more flashy, Sex in the City type outfits and other days I just want to put on my yoga pants and chill out. My favorite pieces depend on my mood.
MG: Where do you shop?
MG: What are you wearing now?
ND: My skinny thrift store $10 jeans with my $300 boots. My jacket is expensive too. It’s from Gypsies and Lords. Before it was called Abandon. It’s one of my favorite pieces. They do a lot of trunk shows. The owner Monique is an amazing designer. Her jackets form fitting, sexy, yet professional with intricate details and gorgeous leather. So soft. I actually never would have gone with this color. I always purchased black jackets. But she was the one who put it on me and told me how great I looked in it. I’ve gotten so many compliments on this jacket over the years!
I went to a colorist at one point. It was super fun. She said I was lucky because I could wear any color. So, I had to get more color in my wardrobe. People are drawn to different colors for different reasons. For example, there are power colors, colors to wear when you’re trying to get something from somebody, etc. I was amazed by the psychological aspect. I started expanding my wardrobe with blues, yellows, pastels, purples and pinks. Before it was just black, black, black.
MG: Do you have any fashion secrets or tips that you’ve learned throughout the years?
ND: I know which colors look good on me, from the color consultant. That was well worth the expense. Also, you need to have confidence in what you’re wearing and feel comfortable. It shows in people’s faces when they’re uncomfortable. It’s important to know your body and your best body parts to accentuate them. For me it’s my ass. People said I had the best butt in the city. I was previously self conscious about my breast size. However, when I placed more attention to my butt, it distracted from my chest. But now, I also know the tricks to make my boobs look bigger, ha, ha! I go with lower neck lines and bustier bras. I’ve learned how to enhance different aspects of my body.
MG: You’ve mentioned your colorist, who else is part of your beauty team?
ND: My stylist would be my friend Val Cunningham. She was voted best stylist in SF. ModeInStyle.com is her web address. She’s the one who took me thrift store shopping and taught me how to shop. Before I used to get overwhelmed & scared when going to thrift stores – there’s so many things to choose from that are thrown on racks. She taught me how to piece things together and how to accessorize. She also taught me not to just look at things on the hanger but to try them on.
My friend Katie Callahan is an amazing makeup artist. She given me great tips over the years and Julie McCarthy is my esthetician.
MG: Overall, what has kept you motivated and excited about what you do?
ND: What also motivates me these days is letting go of my ego. That’s why I’m drawn to the more yogic lifestyle. I admire the Buddhist way of releasing material possessions and getting more and more into the heart. Not that I’m opposed to having nice clothes, but I do see in the fashion industry there’s a lot of waste. If I continue doing the trunk events, I would like to venture more into Eco fashion events and recycling. That’s why I love the upcycling concept by Josie. We need to start recycling what we’re producing because we’re creating so much waste. We are destroying our earth with mass production. Being able to give items to Goodwill makes a difference in people’s lives around the globe. Suzanne Agasi from Clothing Swap Inc. is doing it right. Everyone brings clothing, swaps something in and swaps something out. It’s an awesome exchange idea. She’s been doing it for several years and it’s becoming very popular. One man’s junk is another man’s treasure!
What keeps me excited about what I do – the people and creativity. I’m inspired by designers and I love the social, community building aspect of event planning. I love to see people happy. I love watching people dance at events. I love seeing people inspired by art, fashion and music. It brings a lot of joy to me.