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Modern Fashion: Lindsey Mallon of Nadjarina On The 5 Things You Need To Lead a Successful Fashion Brand Today

An Interview With Candice Georgiadice

A unique vision and a (healthy) obsession with that vision. It’s not an easy path, so you really have to live and breathe it. And you have to stand for something unique and of value… and really know what sets you apart so you can carve your space in the market.

Many in the fashion industry have been making huge pivots in their business models. Many have turned away from the fast fashion trend. Many have been focusing on fashion that also makes a social impact. Many have turned to sustainable and ethical sourcing. Many have turned to hi tech manufacturing. Many have turned to subscription models. What are the other trends that we will see in the fashion industry? What does it take to lead a successful fashion brand today?

In our series called, “5 Things You Need To Lead a Successful Fashion Brand Today” we are talking to successful leaders of fashion brands who can talk about the Future of Fashion and the 5 things it takes to lead a successful fashion brand in our “new normal.”

As a part of this series I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Lindsey Mallon.

Lindsey Mallon, founder of Nadjarina, is a RISD graduate whos career spans over a decade in fashion & blockchain spaces. Nadjarina was launched in response to the (lack of) labour standards she witnessed in her career, and inspired by the desire to see a collection that embodies modern femininity, as told through the lens of a woman (rather than the male-dominated lens of the fashion industry).

The Nadjarina aesthetic is inspired by the modern renaissance women, unapologetically defining and evolving the role of femininity for the future.

The brand is both a conscious luxury collection and a platform to advocate for the future we need for both our communities and our planet. Transparency & awareness towards the true impact of our decisions are the core of Nadjarina.

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 childhood “backstory”?

Oh gosh. I grew up in a small town by the ocean in Rhode Island. So small, that I still no where to find people on a Friday night when I make trips back. . I was always very focused on self expression and was always very particular about curating my own aesthetic. I remember always having strong opinions about our Catholic school uniforms and how they suffocated individuality and self expression. I loved dresses and unrestrictive knit pants. I liked to have my aesthetic, but not be contained by it. That still holds today. You see a strong, feminine aesthetic contrasted with relaxed fits and the lux comfort of silks in Nadjarina. I love the tension between opposition. I think that is where the beauty is, and I think that’s what modern femininity is- the juxtaposition between our soft maternal energy, our history as sensual muses, and empowered voices and visionaries in the workplace today. Life, and balance, exists in the gray area between. As a kid, I felt like an outsider because of that mindset, because I didn’t fit in a neat box.

Can you tell us the story about what led you to this particular career path?

I moved to NYC right after college, as many did. The economy was recovering from the 2008 financial crisis. Design jobs were far and few. I didn’t have the option to intern until a paid position opened, so I looked at the bigger picture. I knew that I wanted to launch a brand of my own eventually, so I took the opportunity to understand each aspect of running a fashion business. I took a job in development that was massively underpaid- I had to bartend on top to pay rent- and climbed my way up from there, wearing many hats along the way.

What I saw was appalling- inhumane labor and manufacturing practices, brands ripping off other brands, toxic behavior amongst peers. It was an industry built to empower, was built on the backs of slave labor and destruction. That is what inspired Nadjarina. Building a brand that would begin to challenge these systems and begin to forge a more optimistic future for our industry. At the time, labor standards and conscious mindsets were really a beta-test mindset. One beautiful thing about this pandemic, is that it’s brought a lot of things into the light and these are becoming more normal conversations.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Motherhood, really. I’m a single mom, so it is the biggest curve ball in my life- and my career my biggest challenge, my biggest reward, and my biggest motive. I think that gave me the courage to really stand up for what I believe in. It put a fire in me to create a world for her and I that would be beautiful and limitless. Nadjarina is actually named after my daughter- it’s her middle name. The brand, just like the next generation, stands for a higher level of consciousness.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

Self-awareness, My personal evolution is the most critical aspect. Learning to embrace the journey, approach the good days with gratitude, and a meditation practice to get me through the harder days. Dropping ego and replacing it with a healthy curiosity to nurture a collaborative workspace.

Intuition. I think the more I’ve tapped into a more intuitive approach to leadership, the more successes I’ve found (which is traditionally a more feminine characteristic not embraced in the workplace). Of course, understanding data and metrics is massively important, but that informs your intuition, so learning to align and tap into that intuitive

Authenticity. The ethics the brand stands for, the narrative the collection creates around modern femininity as defined through the female lens, and, of course, the creative vision. There was a point when I bent too much to outside feedback, and lost pieces of my authentic vision, and it showed. When I returned to that authentic voice, that’s when the vision really resonated with people.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

I think that it’s both our community-focused ethos and the story we tell as an aesthetic. Nadjarina’s aesthetic is an open dialogue around modern femininity. What it means and what it looks like to feel empowered, feminine, sensual… as defined by a woman. Most brands are designed by men, so it is a man defining how he thinks it looks for a women to feel sexy, empowered, comfortable. The way we communicate ourselves visually is almost always through the male gaze.

Nadjarina reclaims that context, and builds a community of women around that. It’s a strong aesthetic, balanced with relaxed fits for comfort and function. I want to feel like a strong woman, but I also want to feel feminine, and I need to be able to move between roles from the workplace to motherhood to a social life. And still feel good when I’m having hormonal bloating… or after having kids, too. A man can’t speak to that in the same way because it’s not his experience.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Be firm in your goals, but flexible in how you get there.”

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. Do you see any fascinating developments emerging over the next few years in the fashion industry that you are excited about? Can you tell us about that?

Definitely, and I supposed with a natural bias (as I’ve previously launched a business in this space), blockchain. With more transparency comes more accountability. There’s a lot of positive impact in this industry that that can bring about. Especially as you go down the supply chain. And this is an industry that needs to pivot fast to pull the reigns in on global warming.

Can you share how your brand is helping to bring goodness to the world?

One thing I’ve been told a few times in my career, is that I have an ability to take progressive ideas or concepts that feel out-of-reach or overwhelming, and break them down so that they feel accessible and understandable. Whether that’s through panels I’ve spoken on about easing into a more sustainable lifestyle and the realities of what sustainable consumerism means, or intimate conversations with women around our experience today… that to me feels like the most important work. I’ve heard from many that a sustainable living can feel a bit overwhelming, so if I can help build a bridge to help people take the first steps towards that, that is an honor. I really believe that if we break it into micro goals and small habit changes, and build on that, it is much more achievable. We have to be easy on ourselves.

Then there’s the female experience, as well. The female experience, often peppered with stories we’ve felt we couldn’t talk about, can be isolating. The more we come together and highlight these struggles, and share our stories, the stronger we become collectively. The #MeToo movement made a lot of women feel heard and seen, but that’s just the beginning of these conversations, in my opinion. There’s a lot more to bring to light. Even just the concept that many women really overcompensate in their masculine energy to excel in their careers, then feel imbalance in their romantic relationships and personal life. Most don’t consciously recognize that it a masculine energy they are tapping into, so they struggle to rebalance themselves, or learn which energy to tap into in which situations. Creating conversations so that we don’t feel alone in these experiences, and creating “toolkits” to navigate these experiences with is important. The first step in creating a solution is recognizing the problem.

Can you share with our readers about the ethical standards you use when you choose where to source materials?

Yes, we actually have a sourcing map on our website that discusses each region we source from and why. We try to source locally, where possible, but and intentionally, looking at quality and the environmental impact of each material. For example, we use plant-dyed leathers, silks woven here in the US, and novelty fabrics from a family-owned manufacturer in Italy. Eventually, I’d like to bridge my blockchain and luxury backgrounds and build these into digital ID’s that go with each product.

Fast fashion has an advantage, that it is affordable for most people, but it also has the drawback that it does not last very long and is therefore not very sustainable. What are your thoughts about this? How does your company address this question?

The price of a product isn’t always the number on the price tag. There is the environmental and humanitarian cost, too. Every dollar spent is a vote to support an ethos and vision.

As a brand, it’s a challenge because in a perfect world, ethically made products would be accessible to all, but it’s difficult to accomplish that and apply fair trade labor and high-quality materials and construction. But I do believe in the original traditions of craft and creating something with intention and impact. Personally, it’s hard to justify purchasing something that stands for environmental damage or near slave-labor.

As consumers and a collective community, it ultimately comes down to a mindset shift. Shaking the Hollywood ideas of wear-it-once, and replacing that mindset with a quality over quantity mindset. What most people don’t see, is that most celebs and influencers are pulling pieces from brands, not purchasing them, giving them limitless wardrobes. Rental platforms are a great option if you want to have more options without the trail of waste.

I really hope that as technology advances, sustainable options will be accessible at any budget.

Thank you for all that. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need To Lead a Successful Fashion Brand”. Please share a story or example for each.

A unique vision and a (healthy) obsession with that vision. It’s not an easy path, so you really have to live and breathe it. And you have to stand for something unique and of value… and really know what sets you apart so you can carve your space in the market.

Malleability. My biggest mantra as an entrepreneur is “be strict in your goals, but flexible in how you get there”. That mindset has been especially valuable through this pandemic for me personally. Nothing ever happens as planned, but we have to trust and embrace the process. When we get caught up in the micro details, or the momentary obstacles, we often lose sight of the end vision and stand in our own way. Stay focused on the bigger picture and how you can pivot to make something positive out whatever is in front of you. Then there’s a literal application- business landscapes are constantly changing, and you have to have foresight and malleability to stay ahead.

Ethics. I know this is an unpopular opinion, but with where we are moving as an industry and the consumer’s growing interest and knowledge, you have to stand for something. And with how technology is advancing, we as brands will be held accountable to the sustainability and positive impact efforts we preach. Transparency and business ethics, I think, will be unavoidable as blockchain tech becomes a normal part of our industry.

A healthy curiosity. That’s what keeps you inspired, but also creates malleability as a leader. We are in an intersecting time of undoing a lot of old mindsets. Ego-centric leaders who create a negative workplace are being called out. We are unlearning and relearning, and that requires a healthy curiosity for people and opinions. A constant hunger for evolution will keep. You ahead of the curve.

Community. And not just from the traditional networking and influence aspect. Community is something Nadjarina has been focused on since day 1, because I really believe in impact and human connections. But community, in a sea of brands, is becoming the new brand longevity and the new brand currency, which I think is very refreshing. You have to reach people, not just sell something to them, if you want to maintain a relationship with your audience.

Every industry constantly evolves and seeks improvement. How do you think the fashion industry can improve itself? Can you give an example?

I think continuing on this path towards sustainable, ethical business models is really key. I think this pandemic allowed for the industry to slow down, take a step back, and assess its faults and systems that haven’t evolved at all, mostly due to the rapid pace of the industry. Now we (as an industry) are having those conversations and consumers are demanding better. And that’s amazing.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start 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. 🙂

In many ways, that’s the vision of Nadjarina- to bring positive impact to people’s lives. It’s both a luxurywear brand and a community-driven platform to support progressive conversations around both the female experience and sustainable consumerism + ethical business. Educating people around sustainable consumerism and lifestyles in a way that feels accessible and approachable. Setting standards for ethical business. Creating conversations that connect us over our human experience; giving people emotional, psychological, and verbal toolkits to express themselves and better themselves. So, in short, creating a global platform to level up the human experience… that’s the vision!

How can our readers further follow your work online?

We have our online store,, which is both a storefront as well as information about the brand and our practices. We’re on social media (of course).

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

Modern Fashion: Lindsey Mallon of Nadjarina On The 5 Things You Need To Lead a Successful Fashion… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.