Spotlight is a regular series where we feature a prominent person in the creative scene.
Have you taken the time to pause and reflect about your life purpose? Twenty-two year old Ukrainian Nika Katerynchuk, has been modeling in China for the past five years and recently asked herself that question. She’s embraced the highs and lows of working in a foreign country and is now embarking on a new journey of building her own business. She’s been working on launching nudepeche, a sustainable yoga wear brand which emerged from the gap in the market she saw when searching for sustainable clothing in China.
Tell us a bit about yourself, how did you transition from modeling to yoga?
I was pretty happy with modeling in the beginning, it gave me everything a young girl can dream about: money, attention, millions of followers on social media, travel and parties. Working in extreme weather conditions, not eating to be ‘beautiful’ in the industry, sleeping only a few hours a night and losing all my friends was a fair price. But last year something changed. I started to ask myself, “Why don’t I still feel beautiful after not eating for a day or seeing my poster in the mall? Am I really happy, or does my happiness depend on others’ perception of me? What’s my purpose?” At that time, yoga came to my life and I felt like I faced my ‘true self.’ I looked deep inside myself and didn’t find any purpose from what I was doing. I started to feel bad about promoting fast fashion brands that are just polluting our planet, I wanted to be part of something more meaningful. My partner also opened my eyes on a huge problem our planet faces nowadays, which I simply never even thought about before. I started to educate myself about sustainability, and I started every morning on my yoga mat to ‘talk to my inner self.’ After a while, I made this step in my life to quit modeling and was motivated by a call to ‘change the habits of yesterday.’ I created my lifestyle activewear brand nudepeche, and started my journey in yoga teaching. I want to build a community interested in being healthier and see the beauty in actions, minds and words… not on posters.
Image via nudepeche
Working in the fashion industry, was starting a clothing brand always in your mind?
I never thought about working in the fashion industry, I never felt a huge passion for fashion, it was more just a desire to prove to myself and everyone that I could be a model. When I started to think about quitting modeling, I didn’t even think about starting a clothing brand, as I didn’t support the idea of what the fashion industry has become, how it just forces people to buy things they don’t need. However, I started to look for sustainable clothing yoga brands for myself but couldn’t find any in China, so I decided I want to create one. Not just to sell the clothes, but to build the community, to deliver the message to people. I don’t see nudepeche as a ‘fashion brand,’ for me it’s a choice of comfortable activewear. My focus is to make clothing as comfortable as can be for every body, and I always keep in mind the idea of ‘less is more’ while designing for nudepeche.
Who is your favorite designer?
It’s better to ask which woman I look up to (my mom for starters), because this is what inspires and motivates me for nudepeche. I don’t see myself as a designer, but as a catalyst to change.
Tell us more about the recycled bottles and the fabric.
nudepeche’s fabric is made from recycled plastic bottles and each piece prevents up to 25 water bottles from ending up in landfills.
Image via Nika Katerynchuk
The production of recycled PET uses about 90% less water than production of virgin polyester and is definitely a sustainable option for your wardrobe. However, it is still non-biodegradable and takes years to decompose once thrown away. The recycled polyester we use for our clothing is high-quality, but we understand that needs and body sizes change, so if and when it is time to say bye to your nudepeche clothing, either pass them to another person or take them to your nearest clothing recycle bin so they can be recycled into another piece of clothing!
We also have a recycle program where you may send us your old nudepeche clothing in exchange for a 25% discount.
What’s the most exciting part of starting your own business?
For me, every part of the process from getting the business license in China as a foreigner, to seeing someone wearing the clothes we created is extremely exciting. I guess the most exciting part for me, is to see people inspired by our message and trying to make every part of the process as ethical and sustainable as we can! To see changes in people’s actions and minds, that’s worth working for!
> This interview has been edited for clarity. Search ‘nudepeche’ on WeChat official accounts, Instagram, Weibo or Taobao to order.
[Cover image via Nika Katerynchuk]
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