We are always looking for the unconventional that brings color to our daily lives. SK didn’t have to look far as we traveled through Florida and found nested in the Sarasota area a sista who is going to force the punk right out of you. Her styles are as innovated as they are eclectic and yet dazzling enough to turn any woman in to a red carpet show stopper. What else can I say? She is Punk Rock Betty.
SK: Betty of Punk Rock Betty, How is business these days?
Nikki Mabalot: My real name is Nikki and business is great. I have a lot going on these days.
SK: You are a fashion designer with a unique flava. Can you describe your designs? I mean what is it really?
Nikki Mabalot: My designs have been called unique, edgy, and alternative. as a teen I grew up in Virginia's punk rock scene. I was full of typical teenage angst. I have always remained in the hardcore/punkrock genre, so as an adult the same aggression comes out in my clothing designs. I always like to be on the edgy side of things. I design everything from dresses to corsets to swimwear.
SK: Are all your wears custom or do you offer mass production so one can buy the same look in different sizes?
Nikki Mabalot: Most of what I do is custom fitted work. I am a one-woman sewing army. So it is easier for me to do custom work but when it comes to some of the skirts and swimwear I do sit down and make size runs. I also enjoy the custom side of it because a fuller size woman can’t always find what she wants to fit her just right.
SK: So with you it is really one of a kind for the most part. How did you make your first sell of your designs?
Nikki Mabalot: For the most part, yes. My 1st real sell came from a store called Eklectik Funk Boutique in Portsmouth, Va.. The owner Erin Kelly picked up my designs when they 1st came out. Back then I was doing handbags and size runs in my clothing.. But if your talking about the 1st sell I ever made it was when I was 14 yrs old silk screening T-shirt designs in my parents garage.
SK: So you have been at this for a while.
Nikki Mabalot: You can say that. My mother, who doesn't sew, gave me her sewing machine when I was 12. And I fell in love. There is nothing like taking a piece of fabric and turning into a wearable garment. And now to see my designs on models and runway shows well it’s the best feeling in the world. Wow just did the math I've been sewing for almost 25 yrs.
SK: That’s a long time my friend. Every business has a, “What the hell” moment. What was yours?
Nikki Mabalot: What the hell as in good or bad?
SK: Bad very bad. (laughing)
Nikki Mabalot: Well I had opened my own Boutique in Nov. 2009 called “Rumor Has It Fashion House and Gallery”. I carried my designs along with other local clothing designers, jewelry designs and artists. Business was awesome at first, but with the economy being what it was then my husband and I decided when our lease on the building was up to close the doors. The minute we closed the emails started pouring in, "Where did you move to?", "Why did you close?" , "Where’s your store located?, we want to come shopping" .. I do plan to open up shop again, just need to find the right location. So until then I have my website and all the sells I make through FaceBook.
SK: Wow that is a WTH moment. What did you learn from it?
Nikki Mabalot: First thing is having faith in what I'm doing with my life and not give up. I know had my husband and I stayed put and kept the shop doors open we would have been ok. But when you have kids, Christmas, bills, car payments, etc. you kinda freak out a little bit. Since closing “Rumor Has It” sell have gone up by 60% so that's a positive thing.
SK: Who is your customer? Who wears your designs?
Nikki Mabalot: Its funny you would think with a line of clothes named “Punk Rock Betty” that it would just be hardcore/punk rockers, girls with tattoos, but its not. My clothing makes everyone no matter what you look like, the music you listen too, or the size you wear, you look and feel like a bad ass! Even those pretty soft pieces or evening gowns I make, you look like a bad ass.
SK: Now I have come across a lot of designers doing what they do, but not to many cater to the plus size market. Do you?
Nikki Mabalot: Yes! I kind of take pride in the fact that I do make plus size clothing. Depending the type of fashion show or photo shoot I'm working on you will see plus size models in my clothing.
SK: Now that is different. Was this always part of your line or did you get a high demand for it?
Nikki Mabalot: I've pretty much always have. My best friend of 27 yrs is a heavier set women and even though my designs tend to be a bit to edgy for her personal taste, I’ve always felt it important to design pieces that would look amazing on a fuller figure women. For the last 3 yrs we have named one of our models Miss Punk Rock Betty. Last years Miss PRB 2012 is a curvy lady
she's not your standard size 2 model.
SK: When will you start to look for someone for 2013?
Nikki Mabalot: Miss Punk Rock Betty 2013 will be picked in December. This years Miss Punk Rock Betty is Christy Atkinson. She a regular girl, mother of a 10yr old, super personality and all around great chick. She is not as heavily tattooed as 2011's Miss Punk Rock Betty but that not really what it’s about. Punk Rock Betty it all about taking that every day woman not matter what size shape or race and making them feel special, making them sexy.
SK: How does one become a model for you?
Nikki Mabalot: Before each show I do a casting call. Anyone is welcome to come. I do have a few models that walk in ever show, but for the most part I like to give everyone a shot. A lot of models think I only pick the edgy alternative tattooed models, but that's not the case, you don’t have to be tattooed , a size 2 or be 6 foot tall.
Never standing still, Designer Nikki Mabalot has recently teamed up with a good friend and fashion stylist Michelle Cobbel, owner of Wicked Threads wardrobe styling out of St. Petersburg, Florida to start a new clothing line called Wicked Betty Designs. Stay tuned for that interview.
For More Information on the Punk Rock Betty Line, Click here.