PARKTEN Interview - Nina Kharey
Nina (Nonie) Kharey is the founder and designer of the Canadian clothing line, House of Nonie. Her favourite things are New York, her Nespresso machine and ketchup
Does your computer engineering degree (which you received before going into fashion) have any impact or influence on your fashion career?
Yes, it does. Engineering was a tough degree to complete and it taught me a lot about stress management, multi-tasking, and thinking rationally. The workload was quite a bit, which can be the case when you're building a brand from the ground up.
How did your relationship with PARK begin?
I met Kara shortly after we both graduated Engineering. I had just started the brand and was participating in a small show. Kara was of course there and we literally ended up bumping into each other. She asked about the line and told me about her new idea called PARK. Since then, we have become huge supporters of each other.
What Canadian/International designers have influenced your work?
So many, but the mains are The Row, Celine, Loewe, and Yohji Yamamoto.
What was the first runway show you were part of and how did it feel?
The first runway show was PARKSHOW. I met so many other designers there who have now become friends and supporters. It was an amazing experience. The PARK team has always been so good at what they do.
Since you began working with PARK, how have they grown as a team and organization?
I've watched the team grow from just a couple of girls trying to make something fun happen in Calgary to a group of amazingly smart women, supporting emerging designers and getting them on a national scale. The growth is amazing to reflect on. PARK is known across Canada now, and while many have tried to replicate what they have created, I have yet to see another do it so well and seamlessly.
Where do you want to see PARK in the next ten years?
In ten years, I would love to see PARK at all the major Canadian cities, and maybe even creeping into New York to represent Canadian talent.
Who are some of the biggest inspirations in your personal life and well as professional?
My biggest inspiration has to be the two men in my life - my dad and my husband. I have watched both work incredibly hard in building a life for their family. One of them being the first to come to Canada and start over completely by himself, and the other also building a business from the ground up. Both are brave in their own way. When I'm stuck in my head, I find myself thinking of one of them.
PARK is continuously working to build a community of creatives - how is their work impacting this generation, as well as the next generation, of designers, artisans, and creators?
PARK has successfully created a platform for artists in Western Canada. I'm not sure how I would have done this without them. They give artists of all levels a chance to show the world what they have created and hopefully even be noticed by the right influencers. It's just up from there.
What was your favourite part of being involved in PARK’s ten-year campaign?
The people. I love being a part of a group of people who inspire me and hustle hard to make something out of their passion
From a designer’s perspective, why are local retailers, such as PARKSHOP, so important to Alberta’s (as well as Canada’s) fashion industry?
The most frustrating part of doing what I do is Canadian retail and the lack of support. Retailers like to focus on what sells, the big names, and stick to well known and established brands from Europe or the States. Canadian brands don't get much of a chance until they start to create a buzz out of the country. Of course, without retail support, shoppers have a hard time supporting and noticing us. PARKSHOP is hope for more Canadian support and knowledge. It's nice to see people taking a chance and trying something new.
Since you began House of Nonie, how have you grown as a designer and where do you want to be in the next five years?
I've learned a lot about myself and also life. Putting yourself out there like this, and having no roadmap, forces you to face a lot of your fears and learn a lot about yourself. It can make you really vulnerable but also stronger every day with every new accomplishment. I have to remind myself of my accomplishments all the time. I hope to continue growing and learning about myself and also meeting more amazing individuals during this adventure I'm on.
What are your favourite local spots in Calgary?
Doing this, and being a mom of two under the age of 6, life keeps me pretty busy. I really don't get out much! When I do, it's usually for my facials at XO Treatment or hair appointments at HedKandi. I've gotten to know both the women running these companies and it's always a great venting session! There are so many great restaurants in the city now - it's hard to name my favourite but I do love The Nash, Calcutta Cricket Club and Anju.