I met Nisha while volunteering. 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.
In her spare time, Nisha took care of the environment and founded her own business built of her love for dressmaking. Designs by NICHE is Nisha’s Business, where she creates ethical, handmade 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 some time, yet found she was mistreated 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 schedule and avoid the headache of her old part-time job.
So in 2016, Nisha founded Designs by NICHE to encourage others to invest in a sustainable wardrobe. Her advice is to buy fewer things, support local businesses, buy items that will last, and shop secondhand.
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 is 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 enjoys listening to audiobooks about world history while creating.
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 is 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.”