When it comes to style in Cayman, nobody knows it better than Nicola de Lima, founder and CEO of Cayman Fashion Group.
Along with her partner Patrick Maloir, Nicola owns four high-end boutiques in Camana Bay’s Town Centre — NKY, NKY Collections, SOLES Shoe Salon and POLO by NKY; another one, Fifth on Seven, is located at the Caribbean Plaza on Seven Mile Beach. Collectively, their chic boutiques carry more than 200 top brands, including men’s, women’s and kids’ apparel, footwear, designer handbags, accessories and fashion jewellery.
Nicola does all the buying herself and travels extensively around the globe with Patrick at least six months each year, attending designer showrooms, fashion shows and private viewings across the U.S., Caribbean, Europe, Central America, South America and Asia.
She never buys from photographs, preferring a more tactile approach. “I insist on seeing, touching and feeling the fabrics as well as viewing the sample design on a live model.”
During buying appointments she views collections and offers feedback to the designers alongside other buyers from major luxury department stores. Their collective input can significantly impact the sample on the model they see, altering the final style or design that is shipped out to stores.
I love fashion, I breathe fashion. I know fashionNicola de Lima, CEO Cayman Fashion Group
The quality of the material and attention to detail on each piece is of the utmost importance and Nicola says there are no second chances to make a first impression. If the brand cannot consistently produce a quality item, it is replaced with another brand that does.
On that note, there is no shortage of designers who want their clothes sold in any of the stores. Nicola fields many inquiries each week and remains selective in which brands to carry and with whom to align.
“Reputation and integrity within the industry are everything,” she says. “The fashion industry is a very small industry and everyone knows everyone and everyone connects.”
When it comes to upcoming trends, Nicola possesses an innate sense of what’s to come, and normally buys six to 12 months in advance. This means she knows what everyone will be wearing the following year, including colour palettes.
Despite Cayman’s year-round hot climate, she still purchases fall and winter collections alongside spring and summer ones, since many people in Cayman require warm clothing for their travels. The shops’ collections are also the same ones presently sold in places like Miami, New York, London and Paris.
She has a large clientele that she dresses for events and takes great care to buy only one piece of any special dress. “Living on a small island you have to be very careful on how you buy as the last thing you want to do is have two ladies attending the same party in the same dress.”
When it comes to pricing, all items are sold at the same U.S. retail price, but in Cayman dollars. Nicola believes this pricing encourages people to shop locally, thereby supporting the economy and creating jobs for her employees, who also have a real passion for fashion, just like her.
Says Nicola, “I love fashion, I breathe fashion. I know fashion.”