For fashion designer Nina Means, structuring her days with intention is a key to making a life that matters professionally and personally.
Designing fashion and life with intention
Nina Means is a wife, a new mom, and a fashion designer with her own clothing line under the Nina Means
label. In addition, she's the Director of the Austin Community College Fashion Incubator
in Austin, Texas, a brand new program that supports the development of the growing fashion industry in the area.
Nina came into the fashion industry from a completely different life. She grew up in Durham, North Carolina, where there are a lot of researchers, engineers, scientists, and doctors. As a young woman, when she told people she wanted to go into fashion, no one understood what she was talking about. So she chose to go into public health, which is what she studied in her undergrad at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She worked in bilingual patient services, interpreting for doctors and nurses. She continued on to get her Master's degree in public health and worked on international health metrics and domestic breast cancer issues in Washington D.C.
Though she enjoyed what she was doing, from time to time she wondered what would've happened if she had pursued her interest in the fashion industry. She wanted to try it out, knowing that she could get back into the public health field if she didn't enjoy it. If she succeeded, she would be getting a chance to do something she was truly passionate about.
Once she jumped in, she realized she was where she was supposed to be all along. A lot of opportunities opened up to her. She worked for brands such as Rebecca Taylor, American Eagle Outfitters, and H by Halston for QVC. Her career was going well in NYC when she and her husband decided to relocate to Texas about 3 years ago. She wasn't sure how to continue to design in Texas, so she started her own line. A few specialty stores in Texas, as well as online stores, carried her designs, she became a professor at the Art Institute, and things started coming together in ways that she never expected it to.
To the woman who has gone down a successful career path but whose heart is in another area, and yet it's scary to give up the familiar to go after this dream, Nina advises:
Your regrets are going to be louder than your comfort. If you prefer to be comfortable, don't feel bad about that. But if you absolutely need to find out where something goes, remember you only live once and your time is precious. There is never a time you can't start something new."
A typical day
Every day is different, but Nina tries to keep her days somewhat orderly by leaving at the same time, picking up her son and spending time with him, turning off email, and including some downtime with her husband before turning in.
Nina's day actually begins at night. She's found through experience that if her night is set up well, her morning goes well. Right after her baby goes to sleep around 7:30 pm, she tries to make sure her baby's bottles are washed and prepared the next day. If she goes as far as packing lunch for her and her husband for the next day, the morning is a breeze. Having a general idea of what they'll wear the next day also makes the morning easier.
When morning comes, she gets up around 5:30 am, gets herself together, and brings her baby a warm bottle around 6:15 and gets her morning cuddle time with him. Nina and her husband take turns doing this. After she gets her baby ready for daycare, her husband leaves with the baby around 7 am. Another 15-20 minutes later, she'll trail out the door to get to work by 8:30.