Clothing designer, environmental activist and founder of
Designs by NICHE.
By Tiani Dun
I met Nisha while volunteering, and at every encounter since, this young earthling has provided me with her shining ray of inspiration. Nisha, currently mid-way through her Masters of Science by research, loves creatures of all shapes and sizes. In particular, she is currently conducting her research on small coral reef gobies of the genus Trimma -a feat that has even taken her across the seas to Kimbe Bay, PNG.
On the side and in her spare time, Nisha took her care for the environment along with her love for dressmaking and formed her own business. Designs by NICHE is founded by Nisha, where she creates ethical, handmake apparel from recycled fabrics.
Nisha describes her journey below:
“It all started when I was 9 years old – I got a knitting machine for my birthday and all my mum’s friends would buy my fluffy scarfs.”
Nisha used to hit up her local op shop regularly. She would buy her clothes second hand and alter them, so she always had her own, original wardrobe.
Hereafter, Nisha worked a regular job for a period of time, yet found she was treated unfairly at such a young age. She was sick of being disrespected, thus sought a new method of income. She found that by doing what she loved, she was able to work on her own schedule, and avoid the headache of her old part-time job.
So in 2016, Nisha founded Designs by NICHE with the idea to encourage others to invest in a sustainable wardrobe. Her advice is to: Buy less things, support local businesses, buy things that will last and to shop second hand.
Recycled materials are mostly one-off. Therefore, Nisha’s designs are groovy and rather unique. “Duvet covers, bedsheets, curtains, table cloths, scrap material. They can all be turned into something really cool.”
My name’s Nisha -so I’ll call it Niche. Designs by NICHE, it’s a pun on words but also describes the niche designs I make.
But slow fashion no easy feat -Nisha’s designs can take her hours to create. While studying full-time finding the time to trial, cut, sew, iron and label her designs can be difficult. Yet our sustainability guru always manages to find the time for her work, and she listens to audiobooks about world history while she creates.
In her work, Nisha strives to raise awareness of the injustices in the fashion supply chain. Many of our clothes are made by children or people paid so unfairly that they may as well be slaves. “You can’t compare the prices between something bought online and something made with care by hand. It’s not possible to have something so cheap with good quality and have people being paid fairly.”
If something’s not right I won’t sell it, I’ll fix it.
For Nisha, creating her designs therapeutic, and the results are the most satisfying. “It’s the most rewarding thing,” she says, “When I make something for somebody and they like it, that’s the best part for me.”
When entering into the science realm Nisha didn’t realise how much creativity and science could combine. “They actually link well together. You need creative minds to formulate new ideas -to think outside the box and come up with solutions for problems.”
Nisha believes that the most important way to make a difference in this world is through education. Whether it’s just small stuff -like making a better wardrobe, or whether it’s about wildlife, sustainability and the environment, Nisha will continue on her endeavours to inspire and improve the lives of those around her. But her double life is far from over -she will always find the time to express her creative side.
Life isn’t all about the image -be comfortable in your own skin – wear what you want to wear! Don’t do it for other people, do it for yourself, do it because you like it.