Nicki Hoyne cut her teeth in online retail by running a popular accessories website, but she is now returning to her design roots with the launch of a new range of colourful leather cross-body bags for the global fashion market.
The Kilkenny-born entrepreneur, who ran My Shining Armour until earlier this year, describes the bags in the new Nicki Hoyne Collection as “statement pieces” that remain true to her original vision as a designer.
“My Shining Armour started out in 2014 as my own statement accessories brand. Back then, having an online business as an independent designer was very new,” Hoyne said.
“I had no real plan, I just enjoyed it. It was innovative and then it became a shop for other brands, and then it became this machine, this monster. It was brilliant, I was selling all these really cool brands like Kate Spade and Christian Lacroix and shipping to 41 countries.”
Somewhere along the way, however, Hoyne’s passion for the venture waned. She decided to shut down the site earlier this year and turned her attention, instead, to getting the new Nicki Hoyne Collection off the ground.
“My Shining Armour wasn’t exciting to me any more,” she said. “I was competing with all these other sites that came after, but were selling the same things at discount prices.
“As Seth Godin says, discounting is where you go when you’ve nothing else. The margin just wasn’t there.”
In response, Hoyne said, she “pressed reset” and decided to move away from seasonally-driven mainstream fashion in favour of a more sustainable alternative.
“I wanted to get away from this idea of needing to have something new every season, and all the waste that goes with that,” she said.
“I want the bags in this collection to be ‘seasonless’, to be statement pieces that are fun, but that people can also keep and maybe hand down some day.”
The bags are made in Spain from locally-sourced leather and feature bright colours, polka-dot and leopard-print patterns, and textured pony hair and croc-embossed panels.
“What unites them is their shape, but in terms of colour and pattern, they’re all very different,” Hoyne said.
“They each have a unique ‘personality’, but they’re all full of fun and vibrancy and that’s really important to me, because sustainable fashion brands can be quite muted.”
The bags are priced from €195 to €225, and Hoyne is shipping worldwide online at nickihoyne.com
“In 2020, I think any new accessories brand needs to have a purpose,” she said. “It needs to mean something to people, and quality is also hugely important.
“I didn’t go for vegan leather, for example, because right now vegan leather is basically plastic.
“For my brand, I decided the better choice would be real leather that is sustainably produced and sourced from animals that are treated well.”
Hoyne is using Instagram to market her new venture. “My Shining Armour had a very loyal Instagram following and I realised, when I decided to shut down the site, that I needed to take them on this new journey with me,“ she said.
"I needed to tell them why I was making this change, to celebrate what had been and then start talking to them about the new brand and its values.
“I started showing people the logo and the colours we would he using in the collection. I talked about why I decided to use my own name, and about the conscience behind the brand; that everyone along the supply chain is paid properly.
“I talked about quality and why I chose real leather instead of vegan leather. I shared everything with my followers. Instagram has been a huge part of how I’ve introduced the Nicki Hoyne Collection to the market.”