The colourful career of Nicky Rowsell
When Nicky Rowsell launched her bikini line, Flamingo Sands, retailers told her to make it more conservative, or it would not sell.
Much like her bikinis, Nicky is a woman ahead of her time. Inspired by the Brazilian bikinis she saw on her travels, her colourful and skimpy swimwear debuted before the age of social media and the body positivity movement.
“I couldn’t find bikinis that were skimpy enough for me to wear on the beach in Australia so I just made them.”
It is this boldness and rebellion that characterised Nicky’s career and life.
Nicky did not start her career in marketing immediately after graduating. In fact, she had little desire for the corporate world as a graduate. Instead, she peppered her resume with a slew of sports-related jobs like running her own personal training business, teaching snowboarding in Colorado and being a water sports instructor in Thailand. It took a marketing assistant job offer from a friend, and a fed up father who strongly suggested she accept said job, to push Nicky into the world of fashion marketing.
She never looked back.
Nicky went on to start her own youth branding / creative production agency, immersing herself in various PR and marketing projects in the youth and fashion space.
Flamingo Sands, a cult swimwear label inspired by lavish overseas travel destinations for the stylish woman wanting statement swimwear was also born during this time, and quickly took over as her main focus.
‘We sold to Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, department stores in New York, LA, Japan, Korea... so it was popular overseas and it had its place here’ Nicky explained.
After running the agency for 10 years and subsequently owning Flamingo Sands for 6 years, Nicky started working for Rip Curl Australia as a product manager before moving into a creative director role. Despite the significant change of going from being her own boss to working for a global company, what remained consistent was her killer work ethic.
“I don’t have barriers, so I don’t know when to stop. I work around the clock and I love it.”
Currently, Nicky is the Head of Marketing at Levi Strauss & Co for Australia and New Zealand. Here, Nicky has found a management culture that embraces her self-employed history and allows her to run her own race within the business.
“I have found my niche in a company that is innovative in a lot of areas...my bosses I think are quite smart, they let me do my own thing without micromanaging me and allow me to play to my strengths - I think that's important.”
In the past four years at Levi’s, she found her niche in creating projects that give back to the music community. Her eyes light up as she speaks about launching the Levi’s Music Prize as well as a mental health helpline for musicians and music industry workers in collaboration with Support Act. ‘Up the Guts’ was another recent initiative where bands tour regional and central Australia, donating musical instruments to local schools and learning programs. The philosophy is to encourage young indigenous communities that they visit along the way to play music.
“I love music, I love youth culture, I love giving back to communities. So all of those boxes tick my passion points. Since I’ve been here I’ve created the biggest music prize in Australian music history,” Nicky explained.
Her advice for graduates also echoes these values.
Nicky believes that today’s graduates have more opportunities to succeed and should not be discouraged by setbacks in their attempts to build a career.
“When you study, its another string to your bow that assists you in finding your way. It’s probably just a stepping stone in a journey.” Nicky goes on to offer.
“I guess you never give up. Keep trying, keep knocking on doors.”
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Nicky Rowsell completed the RMIT Associate Diploma of Business (Advertising)
"I guess you never give up. Keep trying, keep knocking on doors" - Nicky Rowsell, Head of Marketing at Levi Strauss & Co for Australia and New Zealand