Doni Nahmias is the Founder, and Creative Director, of the men’s luxury brand, Nahmias.
Nahmias is a brand on the cutting edge of men’s premium fashion that is worn by the elite in the world of sports and entertainment.
NBA All-Stars, famous rappers and international athletes, like Lewis Hamilton, wear his clothes.
These days, you might find Nahmias shooting hoops with the NBA champions, The Denver Nuggets, or shooting a promo video with rapper Kodak Black.
With A-list connections like that, it’s easy to assume that he grew up in Hollywood and ran in these circles for years.
But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
He only grew up only about two hours north of LA, in a town called Summerland, but it might as well have been a different world.
There were no celebrities there. No one worked in fashion or entertainment. All the parents had regular jobs.
He was a normal kid, by all standards. He had friends, liked sports and skateboarding and he hated school.
But the one thing that made him different was his love of clothes. Nahmias loved the fabrics, the aesthetics, the branding, the design, everything.
He started making and selling his own clothes while in high school.
Nahmias said the first time that he walked into Barney’s, he fell in love in with the world of fashion and he knew that was what he wanted to do with his life.
After high school, he moved to LA to pursue his dream.
He rented a small one-bedroom apartment, with two friends. One was them was the successful artist, Devon DeJardin, who is still one of his best friends.
He was working three jobs to make ends meet.
He was a server and bartender at the Four Seasons and Chateau Marmont. And on the weekends, he would head home to work at another restaurant.
Nahmias was taking almost every dollar he made and putting into his little clothing business: Buying fabrics, getting samples made, designing patterns, etc.
He would make some samples and send them out to stylists, and connections in the industry, that he met on Instagram.
He sent out a lot but didn’t have much success.
Nahmias said, “It was just such a slow grind. All the people that I wanted to connect with were on Instagram and social media.
So, I’d do all this research on the people that I wanted my clothes on, and then figure out who was styling them and then DM’d them.
I’d say, ‘I love what you’re doing. I love your work. I would love to get some products for your clients.’ And that’s how I initially got with J. Cole, by DM’ing his stylist.
And I was just super patient with it.
You’ll send 100 DMs and maybe five or ten will respond. But then those five or ten will turn into something.
And then once you start working with those stylists, and they realize you’re cool, then they’ll say, ‘My friend is styling this person and they like your stuff, so I’ll introduce you.’
And it just grows from there.”
He worked in bars and restaurants for years, while working on his business, before he found any major success.
Nahmias said, “The first two, three, four years is just so much trial and error. You’re reaching out to people and going to dinners with stylists and becoming friends with them.
And I was spending money to take these people out too.
And spending money to make all these samples to send out.
And you hope that they’re going to wear it and hope that it sells. But usually nothing happens at all.”
He founded Nahmias, in 2018, and in the first year, his annual sales were $40,000.
But his expenses were also $40,000.
That’s a heck of a lot of work for no money.
He said. “At first, you’re really excited. You’re spending money and making samples and you feel great about them. But after years of failure, it’s get scary.
I’ve worked all this time and I have no savings.
And here I am still with a brand that’s worth nothing.
And then the amount of people that told me to just quit, and go into real estate, was too much.
My parents just saw me doing it, and spending my money, and they’re like: ‘Are you making money right now? No? Then what are you still doing it?’
And I said, ‘I’ll get there.’
I always knew I was going to be okay.
I was like, ‘I’m going to be good. It’s going to happen.’
I don’t know when it’s going to happen. Maybe next year, maybe the following year but it’s gonna happen. I’m never gonna stop.’
That was always the mentality.
But yeah, during COVID I had a couple moments of just pure defeat.
It’s like, ‘OK, it’s time to move home.’ It was super scary because I never felt that way before.”
But shortly after this time, Nahmias started finding success.
He said, “I got my real breakthrough when I realized that I could create something authentic. My first few years, I think I was still really young and trying to figure out what I was doing.
So, I was looking at everything that I loved and was trying to recreate that in my own way.
But as soon as I started really just tapping into my own authentic story, I found my authentic DNA. And people liked it.
But opening yourself up to the public and being vulnerable is scary.
People won’t always like you or what you’re creating. So, a lot of people never do it.
There’s probably the most incredible designer right now cooped up in a studio, with the most beautiful collections.
But no one’s ever gonna see it because they’re scared to post it or something.
Or, they’re scared to share their work because they don’t know how people are going to respond to it.
There are so many musicians, painters, designers like that.
But if they could just share their work, and share themselves, it’ll get found. If it’s authentic, it’ll get found.”
That is some incredible insight, and great advice, to creative people in any business.
In 2o2o, Nahmias decided to take the show on the road and headed to Paris Fashion Week.
He had some small success but he was still just scraping by.
So, this was a ‘make it or break it’ kind of trip.
But he felt that he needed to be there, so he scraped together what he little he had and bought a plane ticket, made a bunch of samples and rented out a small Airbnb in Paris.
Once he got there, he spent his days walking around Fashion Week trying to get someone to go to his Airbnb to see his collection.
It was a long week with no success.
Which is not a surprise, if you think about it. Who’s going to just go to some random guy’s Airbnb?
But on one of his last days there, some magic happened.
Nahmias’s phone started blowing up.
Justin Bieber was photographed wearing his Miracle hat.
He checked his Shopify balance and he sold $40,000 worth of hats that day.
It blew his mind.
He looked at his friend, Luke Moreno, and said, “We’re not eating McDonalds anymore. We’re eating steak tonight!”
And like they say, “The rest is history.”
It’s this kind of underdog story that we all love to hear because of all the struggle that it took to get to the top.
Constantly being told that that they should just quit.
And having to deal with almost constant self-doubt.
Nahmias dealt with all of that, and more, before that magical day when one of the most famous superstars in the world wore his hat.
And he never looked back.