Photography by GREY & ELLE
WORDS: Nicole Fani & Nazz Ebrahimi
READ OUR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH NICOLE FANI OF @THEAVANTGARTIST AND LOOK OUT FOR 'THE ENTREPRENEUR'S PLAYLIST' TO SEE WHAT TUNES SHE'S CURRENTLY LISTENING TO!
What motivated you to start a business and how did you choose the name of your company?
I chose the name “The Avantgartist” when I was a student in art school, at CSUN ( California State University Northridge). I came up with the conjunction of the words “Avant Garde” and “Artist” morphing them into “Avantgartsit”. I added the “The” in front when I started to shift from an art student to a business professional in the arts. I chose the name because it embodies all that I strive to accomplish with my brand. I want to always be in the forefront of an artistically lived life and share those moments and inspirational ideas with other families who wish to do the same. Turning The Avantgartist into a house hold name like Martha Stewart is the goal.
The motivation to start my own brand came from various avenues of inspiration throughout my life up to this point. A strong and creatively charged woman entrepreneur like Martha Stewart, is of course one of my most inspirational and motivational influencers in my life. I find it empowering that she was able to construct an empire on what she loved to do most in life, being creative and sharing that with the world. Ever since I can remember I have wanted my own voice in the arena of women entrepreneurs. As the daughter of an immigrant, who came to America with big dreams and actually accomplished them, I feel a sense of pride and necessity to accomplish the same for myself!
You are a mother of two beautiful boys! Can you tell us a little about both of them?
- great sleepers! Also both love to sleep in the same position (face down, tush up)!
- did not cry or complain, only when they are hungry!
- music lovers
- love books and story time
- Mickey Mouse & Elmo Monster die-hard-fans
- Dean slept through the night and crawled sooner than Hunter
- Hunter likes to bang the toys, while Dean was a more gentle playmate
- Hunter's cry is more raspy than Dean
- Dean has a flirty personality, while Hunter, so far, seems like he enjoys sarcasm and dry humor
- Both are so sweet and kind!
- Both are fast learners
- Dean has become quite the trickster and as for Hunter, we will see what mischievous adventures await him!
How would you best describe The Avantgartist and do you have any advice for people who want to start a blog and a brand?
The Avantgartist is a lifestyle destination for the modern mom, where I focus on sharing delicious recipes, DIY projects, kids fashion, my artwork, and all that falls in-between! My advice for anyone who is looking to start a blog or brand is to be patient, “sometimes you need to be a sail boat when all you want to be is a speed boat!” You may feel impatient or want to give up because you're not seeing the kind of response or rapid growth that you would like, but it will come. I find that sometimes your initial idea of what your brand is will change and mutate into something even grander than you could have even imagined. Time is not the enemy, just stay true to your brand and never give up (as cliche as that sounds, its true!).
Have your boys inspired you in your business?
My boys are the source of my daily inspiration, from finding sensory activities to do with Dean, or coming up with interesting combinations for Hunter’s baby food recipes. My blog is a lifestyle destination so naturally my life with my boys is the source for all the content I put out there.
How do you make time for "me time" and quality time with your husband?
Honestly, ever since I launched my blog its been a juggling act making time for “me time". I literally write in my schedule “relax” just so I can take time to breath. It's already a lot just raising kids, and running a family, but adding work and “adult time with the hubby” is a real struggle. The best advice I can give is to pencil in a “date night” and make sure to plan in ahead!
How do you determine what kinds of brands you want to collaborate with for The Avantgartist?
I love so many brands out there, and I would like to collaborate with them all! I guess the way I choose a brand is by having the company be something (or someone) that can be incorporated into one or more subjects that I cover on my website. For example I would choose to collaborate with a kids clothing brand that my kids actually wear all the time, that way it’s not an empty promotion, but one that I 100% believe in.
You’ve featured some delicious recipes and brands on your YouTube Channel! What kinds of dishes are you cooking these days and what are your favorite food brands?
Thank you! I love to cook all different kinds of food. Lately I have been focusing on Persian food and how to modernize my favorite dishes from childhood. Sadaf Foods also has a wonderful selection of specialty spices I love to use, and are often incorporated in my dishes. They are great for Persian cooking, but I incorporate them in any kind of dish I am making. It was wonderful collaborating with them for my Williams Sonoma event!
Where do you shop for groceries?
The Brentwood & Santa Monica Farmers Market
Specialty markets: Pesian, Korean
I like to make a lot of the food we eat starting with whole foods for every recipe. I especially feel more comfortable about my son, Dean, having home cooked food (most of the time) vs. take out due to his food restrictions and allergies to eggs and nuts.What was your experience like doing a live demonstration at Williams Sonoma?
I had such a wonderful time demoing my Khoresht Gheymeh with Braised Beef Short Ribs at the Montana St. store location in Santa Monica, CA this past Easter weekend! The staff at Williams-Sonoma are incredibly helpful and supportive, I was able to get a lot of help and advice for the demo. It was great to be able to share my recipe with people in person vs. through my platform. I love talking to people, and was pleasantly surprised that my nerves disappeared after the first few minutes of the demo. I’m looking forward to my next demo at the Beverly Hills Williams-Sonoma on June 23rd from 12-3pm! (http://www.theavantgartist.com/flavor-town/2017/4/16/khoresht-gheymeh-with-braised-beed-short-ribs)
If you are not a "people person", but have great ideas, can you still run a business?
Of course! You just need good ideas that you stand behind. Be persistent and people will see what you want them to! Being a "people person" depends on the people you are around, some days your personality will match, others it will be like oil and water, but all that matters is your ideas and how you convey them.
Your 3 keys tips for negotiating a deal:
1.Make sure that you are always getting back what you are giving, and equal trade.
2. Be fair but firm on what you're asking for.
3. Know your worth
Advice on standing out in a crowd and maintaining a competitive edge?
Confidence, thats my answer.
What’s the best advice you've gotten on motherhood? Do you have any core principles/values you hope to instill in your children?
The best advice I have gotten about raising kids was, to take in all kinds of advice, then only utilize what make the most sense for you and your family. Trust yourself and your motherly instincts.
Can you share with us your birth story? Do you have any advice for expectant mothers for delivery day?
My birth story with Dean was very different from Hunter's. With Dean I had planned to go in for a natural delivery…36 hours of labor later I found myself in the OR and ready to get him out! His cry was the most beautiful sound after the agony that I went through to meet him! With Hunter, I was planned for a C-Section and it went very smoothly. I was grateful that my surgery had no complications and gave me my second beautiful baby boy! He looked just like dean, I had such a 'deja vu' moment!
Your top 5 products for the hospital bag:
1.The Nest + “Hey pretty mama, i’m here!” newborn onesie by Native Wilds
5. Velcro Swaddle
Where are your favorite places to shop for kids?
Kids Fashion Fair
Where are your favorite places to shop for yourself?
Do you feel you picked up on your own mother's taste when it comes to designing your home, fashion choices, and even how you dress your boys?
My mom is a woman of may talents and I can contribute so much of what I learned from what I saw her do on a daily basis. She would always make flower bouquets for us, and place them in our rooms. She was always pushing me to work on my art and never made me feel that I had to pursue another more culturally acceptable career path, like a pharmacist or a lawyer. I'm so thankful for all the creative and art based classes that she enrolled me in, I have to attribute a lot of my creative begging to my mother.
What are your most trusted home products as well as baby products you feel can deliver quality and safety?
- I love the Honest Co. Wipes & Diapers. (I use the wipes to clean anything and everything!)
- Weleda healing creams and lotion for the kids, I use the Rose Body Oil and Spray Deodorant.
- Bubble bath and shampoo/body wash from Everyday Shea Bubble Bath
Your favorite flower combination this season:
Coral Peonies, White and Green Dutch tulips, & White Kalalilies.
Your favorite home decor blogs and shops:
Old Brand New
P.S. I MADE THIS
Woolf With Me
- A color story
- Perfect Video
Top 5 beauty products:
1. Clé De Peau concealer
2. Terry rose lip balm
3. OSEA clay mask
4. A E Skin face wash
5. Rose Face Oil
Favorite workout spots in LA:
- Runyon Canyon
- Soul Cycle
- The “Rockin Model Body” Workout at Equinox on Sunset Blvd.
- Core Power Yoga
How do you take your coffee?
Three shots of espresso over ice, with a splash of 1/2 & 1/2, or coconut milk depending on the day.
Your go to date spot?
Milo and Olive
Favorite nail spa?
Olive and June
Quote you live by:
Adopted from my husband, “failure to prepare is preparing to fail.”
Your favorite part of being a mother:
All the sweet kisses from my boys! Becoming a better human through learning how to be selfless. It’s all about them and their happiness now.
The Blog: http://www.theavantgartist.com/
The YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgWKAmUuXaIZ8a87wjCA7LA/videos
Happy Mother's Day!