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Fashion Q and A: Nina Kharey found inspiration to pursue dream

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 First generation Canadian and Calgarian Nina Kharey (pronounced like fellow Canadian actor Jim Carrey’s last name) of House of Nonie, has found inspiration in her brother’s tragic death to pursue her love of fashion designing.

Kharey’s parents came to Canada in the ’70s, first settling in Montreal where her late older brother was born. Not long after, they moved out west to Calgary and took permanent residence.

Kharey’s father worked in a big factory in Canada’s greatest neighbourhood, Inglewood. (Yes, there was fashion in Calgary back in the ’80s). He made knits for Ralph Lauren and various sportswear brands. Her Mother worked at TipTop Tailors sewing menswear.

“I was always, always around textile. I was always around the designing part of it. My dad would show me the software that was used. He always had the new state of the art computer. It was really cool. Then my Mom would show me basic stitching and all that, the craftsmanship of it all.”

She remembers one time when her father brought home a box of clothes. They were considered the afterthought, but knew his daughter would enjoy them. She immediately took them into the basement and put them on.

“Instead of pretending to be the model going down the runway, I saw myself pretending to be the person in the back, the designer, at a really young age. I was in love with Fashion TV. I just loved imagining me coming out on the runway being like, ‘I created these clothes and these pieces of art; they’re something I thought of and people want to wear them,’ ” she reminisces.

Nina Kharey, for Fashion Q&A by Daniela Codreanu. Photo credit: Jason Eng
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But not all was smooth growing up. Kharey was very close with her parents and older brother, but shares how her parents were in constant turmoil with her brother who was involved in a negative lifestyle. He was a rebel, always challenging the system going after his desires.

Halfway through her computer engineering degree at the University of Calgary, her brother was killed.

“Somehow I finished it. I don’t really know how … Who I am today is because of that death, is because of him. It changed me completely … Him leaving taught me a lot about life. Not how short it is, but how important it is to enjoy your life … To find something you love to do and that you’re acutely aware of about yourself.”

Having started her business in 2008, she got serious about her clothing line late last year after heading back to her corporate position from maternity leave. Kharey realized she was not living out her dream of being a full-time fashion designer. She could hear her brother nudging her to take the risk and all she wanted was to be the best example for her daughter to show her there are no limits to life.

Her current Spring-summer 2016 Collection is relaxed, portraying an escape to the East. She made her own version of the famous “paper bag dress” that is comfortable, yet flattering. She also includes structure in her tailored coats as well as another dress design which has a full zip in the back. Her colour palette includes beiges (like the sand), creams, and dark navy blue.

Here is a deeper look into Kharey’s world:

Q: Describe your mentorship experience with the now retired VP fashion director of Holt Renfrew, Barbara Atkin.

A: It was an amazing experience with Barbara. I secretly call her my Fairy God Mother because she really helped me see my dreams and make them come true. I was truly honoured and inspired when she said she wanted to help me grow my line and mentor me. It was exactly what I needed at that time. She has given me great ideas and taught me a lot about the industry and what to expect. Meeting her in person was the most inspiring meeting I have ever had. She gave the best feedback on my designs and asked me the right questions.

Q: What do you enjoy most about being a mother?

A: The love I receive from (my daughter). It’s the best feeling when you wake up to her staring at you, and once she sees your eyes open, a huge smile spreads across her face. I love being that for her. No matter how bad of a day I’m having, she’s all I need to remind myself to keep going.

Q: You and your brother were close. How has his tragic passing impacted your life in a positive way?

A: Since his passing, my passion has become helping others. I can now understand what happens to kids and why they feel lost and the need to make bad choices. It’s not as easy as saying, stop doing that or stop hanging out with those people. It’s much deeper than that and these kids need support to see the other side. If it wasn’t for my brother, I wouldn’t have understood that and I wouldn’t have devoted my life to fight needless violence.

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