We had the good fortune of connecting with Nikki McAvity and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nikki, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I grew up in New York City with a Mom who was an editor at various women’s magazines and then a beauty-industry copy writer. Through her, I was exposed early to a world of creative talent that included art directors, designers, stylists and makeup artists. I was also fortunate to see many amazing art exhibits in NYC as a child and adult. Ultimately, I developed a reverence for creative people and their work. Later, I worked in the beauty and fashion industries myself, as a publicist. There, I continued to interact with creative talent of all stripes including my own clients, who were often talented entrepreneurs, passionate about the goods they were producing and selling. All of this background inspired me to want to do the same i.e. build a business based on my own creative interests and talents. I can honestly see no higher calling. I take great pride in the creative joy and meticulous construction of the goods we sell at Robot Bunnies and love that we get to interact with our customers and hear how our items enhance their day-to-day lives.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
At my company, Robot Bunnies, we hand make quintessential versions of everyday, lifestyle items – Face Masks, Bucket Hats, Apparel, Throw Pillows – with exceptional care and attention detail and a joyful and unexpected mix of colorful prints created by amazing independent artists. In my work, I am most excited by the product development process – refining our styles/sewing patterns as well as searching out and combining the prints that we use. I also love that I get to work with other creative people i.e. the artists that create our prints and the other sewists and pattern makers on my team. I’m most proud of our customer reviews. People leave such wonderful and generous comments about the quality of our goods and how happy they make them.
It was a long and circuitous route getting to where I am today professionally. It started with 20+ years doing public relations for both large corporations and fledgling entrepreneurs who were chasing their dreams. I too was an entrepreneur in that I started my own PR Firm in NYC but I always dreamed of doing something creative. I went through several false starts before realizing what that would be i.e. arriving at my current business. First, I was going to have a turtleneck company, then a baby blankets & bedding business. I went from working with factories and pattern makers to learning how to develop patterns and sew items myself (self and YouTube taught). It was not easy. I put loads of work and money into projects that never amounted to anything but each step gave me one more piece of the puzzle that ultimately brought me to where I am now. The biggest thing I’ve learned is to follow your heart. Be guided by what really moves and excites you AND don’t give up. Even when I was selling nothing, I would get up everyday and make products and work on my collection. I kept learning as well as finding new resources and ways of working.
Another important lesson is to focus on quality. It is so satisfying to know that you are selling a great product that your customers love and that you can be proud of. It’s also much easier to get great reviews and new customers when selling a quality product.
One way that I have gotten through challenges is by learning how to do every part of my business – photography, modeling, marketing, copy writing, production, website management, order fulfillment, etc. This way, the business keeps running even if I’m let down by freelancers/employees and/or experiencing budgetary restraints.
Robot Bunnies is a brand focused on quality, creativity and full of heart. We make our goods with passion and care. They are unique, conversation-starting pieces that last forever and always spark joy.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
PLACES TO VISIT: Botanical Gardens
Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art
Harkins at Fashion Square Mall (my happy place)
Maybe Phoenix Art Museum if they’re having one of their fashion exhibits
Melrose Area Antiquing
PLACES TO EAT:
La Grande Orange
Buck & Rider’s Happy Hour (Oysters!!!!!)
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I shout out to my Mom, Stephanie Rank, a brilliant and talented woman who raised me in New York City in a home infused with color and style and exposed me to art of all kinds – from food to fashion to fiction and fine art – as well as a world of creative careers and talents. This inspired in me an awe for the act of creation that is at the heart of who I am and what I do.