How I Got My Job: We Meet Instagram Queen Nicki Hoyne Of My Shining Armour
"The job I wanted didn’t exist so I created it for myself."
Where I’m based: Kilkenny
What I do: Founder of My Shining Armour
Nicki Hoyne knows what you want for Christmas. In fact, she probably has a fair idea of what you’ll want for next Christmas too. The Kilkenny native has a knack for predicting the next big thing, as is proven by her stellar sell-out record with My Shining Armour, the online gifting store which is the Irish home of ban.do, Kate Spade and many more brands. In 2014, after four years spent working as an account manager for a range of high-end brands in the UK, Nicki decided it was time to set up shop on her own, and moved home to Kilkenny to do just that.
Two years on, she’s shipping to 32 countries across five continents and has appeared in Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Elle and Grazia (not to mention STELLAR…). We sat down with Nicki to find out what she loves about her job, how she got to where she is, and why her work/life balance is still a “work in progress”…
Tell us a bit about your career path before My Shining Armour?
I studied Entrepreneurship at IADT and started out in events and sales management in Dublin. I moved around a bit after college, first to Australia and then to London. Between my various jobs and projects along the way, I worked with heaps of high-profile brands including Nintendo, Diageo, Marc Jacobs, Calvin Klein, Chloe and Elizabeth Arden. If you had asked me at the time I would have told you that my career was just a series of random choices, but when I look back now, those choices were really the building blocks to get me where I needed to be.
Did you always hope to start your own business?
Entrepreneurship is in my DNA and it was always in my plan to start a business by the time I was 30. However once that time rolled around, I was having a ball in London and giving it all up to start a business at the height of the recession didn’t sound like much fun. Eventually though, I knew I had to make it happen, so I moved home to Kilkenny to start My Shining Armour. As Aliza Licht says, “The job I wanted didn’t exist so I created it for myself.”
What inspired you to set up My Shining Armour?
I’m a big online shopper, obsessed with accessories… and my friends will all tell you I give amazing gifts! The concept for My Shining Armour had been niggling at the the back of my mind for a long time, and because I tend to get itchy feet I liked the idea of keeping it online so that I could pack it all up and move to the other side of the world if I wanted to.
What were the first products you stocked on the site?
I started off with just jewellery. I love standout statement pieces that add individuality to your outfit, and I found some really unique pieces that customers loved.
What have been your top three bestsellers so far?
This has consistently been our biggest seller, and this month we launched our a new redesigned version which is just beautiful.
The This Bag Contains My Face Pouch
Another firm favourite, and especially popular among beauty lovers!
People go mad for anything ban.do, and there’s already a buzz about the Agenda 2018 which is only months away.
What’s the selection process like for your products and brands?
It varies, but I get a thrill whenever I come across something I know is going to work, be it online, while travelling or at trade shows. If I come across something really special, I’ll go to any lengths to track it down. One of my favourite items on the site right now are the disco ball tumblers, which I first spotted on Pinterest and then tracked down to Wisconsin in the US. I had to have them. It turns out I have a good instinct for finding the “next big thing”.
How hands-on are you in terms of choosing products and dealing with customers?
Extremely. Product and customer interaction are my favourite parts of the job, and I like to think that enthusiasm has rubbed off on the team! I love when a member of the team comes in all excited about an item that we just have to get.
What’s a day in your life like at the moment?
I’m always full of beans in the morning. I get in to the office before the team, have my coffee and get my head straight. If I’m based in Kilkenny that day I’ll walk to work and Snapchat along the way. I do all the social media in real time, rather than scheduling, because I like to make decisions based on what mood I’m in or what we have in stock. I’ll shoot product, look at brand strategy, update the website and anything else that comes up. I eat lunch at my desk so my day is fariyl work based, though if new stock arrives we’ll drop everything and fawn over it! Once the rest of the team leaves at 5.30pm, I try to get away from the office too: I’ll exercise; go to dinner or a movie. I get home at 8pm or 9pm and chill out for an hour browsing online or reading.
Any advice for us to ensure your work life doesn’t bleed too much into your personal life?
Honestly, I live and breathe my business, so my work/life balance is not great at the moment. I have been close to burn out once or twice, so I’ve tried to make some changes of late, like not working at weekends apart from a little social media, and exercising with a trainer at least three times a week. Work-wise though, I love what I do. My Shining Armour is still in start-up phase so we’re still getting that solid foundation laid down, which takes a lot of work.
What are your words to live by?
Be your own hero. The name My Shining Armour was inspired by Kilkenny Castle in my home county, but also by the idea that you don’t need a knight in shining armour to save you. You are well capable of saving yourself!
What does 2017 hold for My Shining Armour?
Next year I plan to get very creative. Watch this space for new products and new countries, plus I’m working on my own designs which is a dream come true!
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