Tori has been a wonderful client! We have captured so many of her special moments, from her family's portraits to her business. What an amazing person she is, along with her beautiful handbags! We were so happy that we were able to ask her some questions about her incredible business. Get to know this amazing woman better by reading on!!
Q: When did you know this is what you were meant to do?
A:My journey of becoming an artist started from a very young age. Whether I was sketching on the walls of my childhood home or playing with fabrics, I knew that this was what I should be doing. In fact, once I started experimenting with said fabrics and imagining looks and outfits, I knew that being a designer was in my future. It had become evident that creating was something that I needed to do for the rest of my life. When I was just starting out, God allowed me to travel all over the world and provided me with the ability to immerse myself in the lives of fascinating people along the way. It was while traveling that I really discovered my love for language and culture. Mixing these experiences with my intrigue for textile art birthed the journey of TORI NICOLE®, where every piece of wearable art is reminiscent of these stories and experiences.
Q: All of your bags have a unique story to go with them. Can you tell us who they are named after?
A:I design every collection of handbags and apparel with a strong mission of love rooted in my faith, family, and experiences I have gathered along this journey. It is because of this that a lot of my bags are named after significant people who have played a strong impactful role in my life. To name a few, Berta is named after my father’s mother, and both Ollie and Bettye are named after my mother’s mother because I felt as though they looked like something they would have loved. With that being said, a lot of pieces look like people I know or knew over the course of my lifetime. These pieces all remind me of the stories that they have told me, characteristics that made them individually special, or experiences we have shared. It has become my passion to unite other people’s stories with my own and create something unforgettable to symbolize that.
Q: Your first handbag was named Amelia after your great-grandmother who was a seamstress. Do you believe this gives you a connection with her?
A:My great-grandmother, Amelia, was an inspiring woman, with her own “Garden of Eden.” In the little town of Eden, Mississippi where she grew up, she had a large acreage of land that flourished with an abundance of fruit orchids and trees, ponds, and pecan trees. She inspired those who followed her to create something of their own that would impact those around them. I watched my grandmother joyfully tend her own garden, my father’s entrepreneurial career, my mother’s creative skill in her poetry, and grew up knowing that art and love was in our blood.
Q: Can you tell us what it was like to design a clutch for the Obama Administration?
A:This was one of the most amazing experiences! The Obama Administration contacted me in search of an emerging designer to provide a mass number of bags to be featured for an international group coming to visit the White House. Originally, they were in search of the yellow honeycomb bag with 80s novelty lining called “Yellow Brick Road” that I had on my website at the time. The fabric was gifted from my maternal grandmother, Bettye. Unfortunately, I did not have enough material to make the amount that they desired, so I came up with a second option. I gathered fabric from all over and played with different textures as the final design began to come together. Thus, Berta was born. It was timeless, classic, and definitely something Alberta, my fashionista paternal grandmother, would have adored! This is the bag that was featured in British Vogue in 2015!
Q: How have you felt seeing your own designs on the runway?
A:It is always an exhilarating experience getting to see my own designs on the runway. It is a lovely result of the beautiful journey from concept to execution. The reaction of the models and the crowd when they see the designs is both humbling and amazing. My bags are made for the person who will appreciate my art and all the love and labor that goes into my creations. Nothing brings me more joy than seeing people love the Tori Nicole collection pieces as much as I do.
Q: What would you say is your favorite part of your business?
A:I am an artist first and a visionary second. I believe that art enriches your lifestyle and starts a conversation. I believe it brings people together regardless of race, class, etc. As a mother to two amazing children, I’ve come to learn that what you create through God’s plan leaves a large impact on those around you. I intend to spread love through my art, so that those who carry it with them may spread the love, too.
Q:What is coming next in your journey?
A:We have officially expanded into apparel, having recently released a Peplum Wrap Jacket and Midi Dress, and will be adding new apparel and accessory items in 2020! We continue to travel both domestically and internationally and delight in meeting people along the way. I am excited to see what new adventures are on the horizon!
Q: Do you have anything to add?
A:I feel deeply tied to my family and those I share my life with and include a little bit of them in everything I create. I did not start this company by myself. I am very fortunate that a lot of people have given me their ear, their time, and their money to help me make this dream of mine come true.
At Misty Westebbe Photography, we specialize in all your family photography needs! This includes maternity, newborn, baby, children, family, and high school senior portraits. Our Cottage Garden studio is nestled in downtown Franklin Tn on 2.5 acres, and services clients in Nashville, Franklin, Leipers Fork, Brentwood, Belle Meade, Green Hills, Thompson Station, Murfreesboro and more!