LOS ANGELES — In Kenyan, the name means "a hard-working woman in the sunshine," and, fulfilling her destiny, Nyakio Kamoche has become just that.
With the launch earlier this month of her namesake body line, Nyakio, during an A-list filled party at Apothia at Fred Segal Melrose that attracted the likes of actresses Selma Blair and Megan Mullally, the California transplant, who goes by Kio (pronounced Kay-oh), and partner Troy Nankin are keeping a pace that seems at odds with the relaxing nature of their essential oil-based products.
Maybe what’s helping is their body scrub of Kenyan coffee beans and sugar: a whiff alone is like a jolt of Starbucks, which is probably why it has already become such a bestseller at the Apothia stores on Melrose and in Brentwood.
"It’s been work — I mean, I’ve basically taken on a second full-time job — but it’s been so smooth, which tells me we’re doing the right thing," said Nankin, who, as senior vice president of publicity at BWR in Beverly Hills, claims Blair and Mullally as clients, as well as Amber Valletta and Hilary Swank. He enlisted some of them to test the products and offer their input, since, after all, like he and Kamoche, "they are all beauty product obsessed."
It’s that "obsession" that brought he and his partner together last October via a mutual friend. Last September’s tragedy got Kamoche thinking there was more to life than assisting entertainment agents, a career which she entered five years earlier out of college. (For his part, Nankin is staying put, relying on Kamoche to see to daily matters.)
"I’ve always been infatuated with great skin care," said Kamoche, a first-generation American of Kenyan parents, who was born in New York and raised in Oklahoma. "I grew up making bath salts and the coffee scrub with my mother in our kitchen. We’d make products from raw materials from our family farm in Kenya where my grandmother still lives."
Dinner with Nankin lead to a business plan and securing investors. By December 2001, the venture was under way. Besides their entertainment industry friends, the two also turned to Apothia owner Ron Robinson for guidance. At the opening party on Aug. 15, as the rhythmic sounds of live African drummers filled the store, Robinson watched on like a proud father."Yes, it’s always important to have the power of a store behind a product. But we’ve reordered five times since then," the retail pioneer reported this week. "That’s the true test — the reorders really make the success of the product."
The debut line of five products contains East African ingredients such as kukui nuts and grapefruit extracts, as well as vitamins A, C and E and grape seed and wheat germ oils. The minimalist packaging is branded with the name and a sliver of a strip, striped with colors associated with Africa.
The cream, scrub, wash, serum and candle, wholesale priced between $9 and $22, are intended for a complete experience in the bathroom, said Nankin.
"Now we’ll expand on that experience with face, men’s shaving products — who knows," he added. As they consider holiday, the pair is hitting New York in the next weeks to meet with buyers.
With the Apothia stores in Los Angeles and the Zebra Club in Seattle as starting points, the pair hope to build the brand in upscale boutiques and better department stores to the tune of $300,000 in first-year sales.An e-commerce site, nyakio.com, is set for next week. The products also sell at apothia.com.
For its next men’s wear collection, @roberto_cavalli will show as a special guest at #PittiUomo, running from June 12-15. The brand, which has Florence in its roots, will relaunch its men’s wear collection, which will be presented separately from women’s wear for the first time since Paul Surridge was appointed creative director in May. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
“I was making the guacamole when my scout saw me,” says model @stuckinteenage on being discovered just six months ago while working at @chipotlemexicangrill. Since then Williams has signed with @dnamodels, walked in her first show at @calvinklein and landed on the cover of @vogueitalia – a high point of any model’s career. To read @lisajlockwood’s full interview with the model on her experiences thus far, head to WWD.com – link in bio. (📷: George Chinsee)
“I love the idea of dialogue, period. It’s where I’ve always gotten my inspiration from: hearing other women speak, their journeys and their paths,” said @hereisgina, who delivered the keynote speech at the @sxsw conference for @createcultivate, the online platform and conference series for women. For her two panels, Rodriguez chose female empowering, female-led and female entrepreneurs to focus on. Head to WWD.com to read more about her thoughts on Time’s Up, growing up in a family of women and why we “need a girls’ club.” #wwdeye #sxsw (📷: @jgreenery)
Leading luxury brand are shaking things up to keep up with streetwear. Case in point: the arrival of @mrkimjones as artistic director of @diorhomme. Jones, who succeeds @Kris_Van_Assche, is seen as one of the handful of designers who can actually straddle the luxury and streetwear worlds — which could lead to even more changes at established brands. What could this mean for the rest of the menswear landscape? Head to WWD.com to find out what experts predict #wwdfashion (📷: @franckmura)
“It’s like buying groceries. You’re going to buy the best mango, the best mozzarella, the best things. You have to, or others are going to take it all,” said @gabrielahearst on why she uses only the finest fabrics. Last week, Hearst received her first @cfda nomination for Womenswear Designer of the Year, and earlier this month she opened a permanent showroom in Paris. To read @jessiredale’s interview with the designer and find out why this is shaping up to be a big year for her, head to WWD.com. #wwdfashion (📷: @francoisgoize)
“It’s an interesting thing, playing a younger version of your mother. It’s an interesting concept. I adore my mom and love her in every capacity, but it was just something that had never crossed my mind,” says @anniemstarke on playing a young Joan Castleman in “The Wife.” The same role will be played by her mother Glenn Close. Read more about her growing up in the film industry as the daughter of producer John H. Starke and Close and what she has planned for the future #wwdeye (📷: @nataliamantini)
@asics is launching a new streetwear sneaker inspired by its latest ambassador, @steveaoki. The Hyper-Kenzen x Aoki, which will launch at @footlocker stores exclusively tomorrow, is a slip-on style that incorporates the brand’s proprietary Gel technology through beads integrated into the midsole for comfort and endurance. Read the full story on WWD.com.