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Nicole Zabriskie

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Nicole Zabriskie’s impressive resume since her 1999 graduation from Mizzou lists stints with Ralph Lauren in design and visual merchandising, national retail coordinator for Dolce & Gabbana, and international brand manager for Brazilian couture designer Carlos Miele. Next, she oversaw the creative vision for corporate events, showrooms and retail and wholesale channels for Diesel. She then joined Michael Kors’ visual merchandising team, participating in opening 65+ domestic and international retail stores, and moved to retail consulting firm Winston Retail Solutions as the creative account manager working with clients such as Under Armour®, Calvin Klein and Rachel Zoe. Today, she’s living in Seattle, Washington, and is working as a freelance fashion stylist to spend more time at home with her daughters, Zoe and Campbell. As a freelancer, she has worked with luxury brands including Prada, Miu Miu, Lanvin and Alexander McQueen.

HLM: Tell us a little about yourself and your day to day.
NZ: My day to day is never the same, but it generally consists of getting my daughters up, ready for school and dropped off. From there, I could be running to a client’s house to do a personal styling session or helping them with looks for an event or figuring out what to pack for an upcoming trip, researching trends online, shopping the local boutiques for new styles I think my clients would love. Most afternoons, it’s all about getting my kids where they need to be, whether it’s dance class, theatre, soccer practice or some other activity. When I’m gearing up for a photo shoot, it’s a different story. I’m spending a lot of time gathering samples, props, scouting locations, model casting and other activities to complete the shoot. And once the shoot rolls around, it’s all about the hustle, dressing and undressing models, styling them in a variety of ways to ensure the photographer can get the shot they envision and that overall the client is happy with the outcome. 

HLM: Who or what inspired you and why?
NZ: As a child, I devoured fashion magazines. I collected them and just loved seeing all of the models wearing the latest trends. Growing up in the Midwest, I would try to find these looks locally and of course, couldn’t. So I always dreamed of living in a big city where I could go shopping and find anything and everything that my heart desired. My Aunt Leesa took me to NYC for a weekend when I was about 14 years old and I fell in love with the city. I looked up at all of the skyscrapers around me and the hustle and bustle around me and said “I’m going to live here someday!” My aunt had lived there for about a year when she was younger and if it weren’t for her inspiration and guidance, I might not have had the courage to move there on my own one week after graduating from college. 

HLM: What are you most proud of in your career?
NZ: I set goals for myself each year and worked really hard, put in long hours, had a good attitude, and I’m just proud to say that I was able to achieve the goals that I set for myself each year. I’m also proud of the meaningful connections that I have made throughout my career. You just never know where you might run into a former colleague or boss, so staying on good terms with people is very important in this industry. Without all of my connections, I never would have been able to launch a successful freelance career. 

HLM: Do you have a favorite fashion vice?
NZ: I have a slight obsession with handbags and change them out as often as I change my shoes. 

HLM: What are you most excited for going into the holiday? Any upcoming trends you would like to leak?
NZ: For me it’s all about the accessories. I love that silk scarves and animal prints are making a big comeback this season. These are two things that I have always considered classics and hey, you can even combine the two! Based on what I’ve seen from the spring/summer 2020 runway, I think soft and dreamy pastel colors are going to be a big trend next year.  

HLM: How do you juggle your professional career with your personal life?
NZ: We have a family shared calendar, which is vital to keeping organized and staying on top of upcoming events. I’m also a big list maker. It helps me feel like I’m really accomplishing things when I can check it off my list. 

HLM: What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?
NZ: Stay the course! In our society of instant gratification, working hard for what you want in life can seem daunting, not to mention time consuming. You have to be patient to achieve your goals and dreams, but don’t get frustrated if you don’t have the title you want right away. You won’t be in that position forever. Just always do your best and give it your all and your hard work will pay off. And just know that sometimes you have to step sideways to move forward. 

HLM: What’s next in store for you, moving forward?
NZ: I am launching my own business as a fashion stylist and design consultant called Emerald City Stylist.  

HLM: Do you have a favorite quote?
NZ: Marilyn Monroe said, “A career is wonderful but you can’t curl up with it on a cold night.” This quote has helped me realize that there is more to life than a career and it’s important for me to have that work-life balance in order to feel successful.