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Old Haileyburian's global brand launches from parent’s garage

NEWS 4 May 2022

After graduating from Haileybury, Nicolette Kordos (OH 2010), completed a Bachelor of Arts/Law but instead of commanding in a courtroom, Nicolette has created a successful global activewear brand called Nicky Kay.

Nicolette started her business while studying at university. Unable to find stylish but affordable activewear, she identified a gap in a growing market and decided to design and make her own clothing instead. Her empire started from humble beginnings in her parents’ garage (following in the footsteps of garage-originating giants like Apple, Amazon Disney, Google and Mattel, of course!) but today Nicky Kay is an internationally recognised brand worn by women across the world.

How were you exposed to entrepreneurship at Haileybury?

Haileybury always instilled an expectation of greatness. We were encouraged to strive for excellence and were given all the tools to do so. I recall a project for Business Management in Year 10 where we had to conduct a business at the Haileybury Carnival and the group I was in decided to hold a cake stall. That gave us first-hand experience of marketing, pricing, profits and customer service. Our group actually raised the most amount of money and profit!

How important do you think that exposure to entrepreneurship has been in what you do today?

It was so important! Haileybury definitely paved the way for my life as an entrepreneur. When you are young, it is very easy to have distractions, so to be in an environment that teaches you to have a strong work ethic while encouraging you to strive for excellence is priceless. Since I graduated, the support I’ve received from the School and the Old Haileyburians Association has been tremendous. I learned about the power of networking and thoroughly enjoy taking part in events and connecting with other graduates. 

What were your favourite subjects at school and why?

Legal Studies was my favourite subject followed by Business Management. My interest in Legal Studies stemmed from being raised in a family where many family members are lawyers, while the teachers at Haileybury heightened my love for the subject. 

Which teachers were particularly influential and how did they have an impact on you?

My VCE Legal Studies teacher, Vicki Baron, was the best teacher I have ever had. If you were a member of Mrs Baron’s classroom, you knew there was no time for mucking around — but you appreciated it because you obtained great results. Legal Studies was my highest VCE score and I still have the pleasure of speaking with Mrs Baron. I also remember Haileybury Vice Principal, Scott Doran, shaking every student’s hand and wishing us a ‘Happy Tuesday’ before assembly and he always had a smile on his face. It was a small gesture that stuck with me and highlighted the importance of being personable and setting the mood in a room. 

Tell us about your working life as owner of Nicky Kay. What have been some highlights?

I have my own warehouse, a team of staff and my brand is stocked across leading retailers in Australia, such as The Iconic, and many international retailers. Learning about the power of networking has helped me align with many businesses and celebrity stylists and my brand has been worn by A-list celebrities like the Kardashians and Jenners. Most recently, one of our activewear sets was featured on an episode of Home and Away! 

What does a typical working day look like?

I am a mum now so I wake at 6 am to have a cup of coffee to myself before my baby wakes. I feed her breakfast and then leave her with her amazing Dad and head to my office. I always start my workday by attending to emails, overseeing our online orders and then I work on any upcoming projects. Right now, I’m working on our sustainable collection of activewear which is made from 100 percent organic cotton. I do all of our designs myself and I personally pick our fabrics and work with our manufacturers to ensure the fit of our garments is perfect before they go into production. 

What do you enjoy most about your work?

I can’t pick one thing because I love every aspect of what I do —from being creative and designing my activewear, to planning out the photo shoots, speaking with celebrities and speaking with our customers. 

What do you think has helped you build a successful business?

I think Nicky Kay has got to where it is now because I wasn’t afraid to pursue my dreams, and because I have a very supportive network of family and friends around me. 

What advice do you have for aspiring young entrepreneurs at Haileybury?

Surround yourself with like-minded people and go for it! Being enrolled at Haileybury already means you have the tools around you to achieve something great. Be confident in what you do and keep moving forward…

Thank you, Nicolette, for sharing your inspiring story. We wish you all the best and continued success with Nicky Kay both nationally and globally.