Nicole Loher moved to New York City from a small town to pursue her big dreams in the fashion industry. Her journey since moving to the city is nothing short of inspiring and transformative: she’s already had experience with many powerhouse brands such as NARS and Nanette Lepore. But what really impresses us about Nicole is her ability to show us what it means to truly take care of yourself on your own terms, and being dedicated to blending many passions into one cohesive career and purpose-driven life.
Life & Career
Tell me about your childhood. Where did you grow up and how do you think your childhood shaped where you are today?
I grew up in this little town called Westminster, Maryland. It’s a very rural town. It was named the high school with the highest rate of heroin addiction in the U.S. in the nineties, so that’s pretty telling of where I’m from! Being from there, I always thought I needed to find a way to get out. That was my motivation. New York City was probably the only city I’d ever visited until I was twelve years old.
I didn’t realize that so many people had that dream of moving to New York, so it was very naive of me to think it was original, but it did put me in a good position in that I wasn’t scared when I moved. I had no other option my thought was, “This has to work.” I’ve never been one of those kids who could lean on parents for financial support, so I had to make it work not only emotionally but financially.
Let’s talk about your college and post-college. I know you went to FIT to study fashion, then worked at NARS. Since then, you’ve left the fashion and beauty industry. Was there a big a-ha moment for you that informed your decision to leave both those industries?
Yeah. Fashion I always feel really sad about. I ended up working in beauty because I essentially needed to leave my job. The opportunity with NARS presented itself in a way that it was essentially a fashion and beauty opportunity. So yeah, I always feel really sad when I think about leaving the fashion realm. However, leaving beauty was a different story.
In my time working at NARS, I learned about this triathlon training thing called Team NARS. A lot of people that had been on the team previously at NARS said, “You should totally do this because you already go to spin like three times a week.” So I took the plunge, but at the same time my dad was getting over cancer, so it was one of those things that felt so right. The triathlon was one of the hardest triathlon in the world in Hawaii, and I decided to do it to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in honor of my dad.
Through the [training] process, I went through a series of self-love and discovering my purpose. As a twenty year old in NYC, I became passionate about something I never thought I’d be passionate about.
I ended up placing in my first triathlon. Which was insane because I was training to finish, not training to place! That experience lit this fire in me. I had a phenomenal coach who told me, “You can do anything you put your mind to.”
And then, going back to the leaving beauty conversation — I ended up leaving beauty because I found something I love more. I wanted to open myself up for greater potential.
Now you’re an incredible athlete, you’ve placed in a triathlon, you’re doing another one soon. Did you always have your sights set on competing in a triathlon? Because I imagine, for a lot of people it’s one thing to say “oh I’m going to get healthy and get fit” but it’s another thing to say “I’m going to compete in triathlon.”
No! As I said before, it kind of just happened. After I placed in Hawaii, my coach there and I chatted briefly. You should consider doing this. This is something you should seriously consider doing.
I recently brought on a nutritionist, physical therapist, and two coaches. For me, it made sense because if I’m going to compete I want to give it my all going into it.
How do you feel when someone refers to you as a “fitness influencer?”
I hate it! I hate it so much. I mean, I love fitness influencers. I work in creative services and it deals a lot with it. I think people are so talented. I’m like “no I’m an athlete.” I don’t charge my sponsors by any money. I am just… everything I’m doing, I’m doing because love it.
You currently work within or adjacent to the wellness industry. What are some things that excite you about working in the wellness space, and on the flip side, what are some things that you would love to see changed?
I mean, I love that there’s so much awareness. I come from a family that’s plagued with disease. The reason why I got into it is because my dad was diagnosed with cancer. Medically speaking, there’s so much more to go. My end goal — I like making goals — my next goal is I want to work in the field of nutrition for cancer patients and patients who may be facing life or death scenarios. I saw this change my dad’s life. Another reason is that on the flip side of that, we’re seeing this rise of misinformation regarding health and nutrition.
This is where the “influencer” thing comes in. People out there are giving incorrect advice on what to eat. Incorrect info on what exercise is. The internet is such a powerful tool, but it’s also so dangerous, for everything from health and wellness to politics.
What does self-care mean to you?
Self care is.. I mean it’s in one word, everything. It’s your mental health. It’s being able to understand self-love and self worth. In today’s age, it’s so hard to reconnect with yourself and find those moments. Any time you get to do that, it’s better than gold. If you can love yourself and appreciate yourself that’s where it should always be.
What are some rituals or routines you’ve incorporated as part of your self-care or wellness routine?
Hmmm…. Well, there’s one thing I always do in the morning. I do those 4:30am hip shakes on Instagram stories. [Editor’s Note: If you follow Nicole on Instagram, you’ll know that she usually posts a Boomerang of herself in workout gear with a 4:30am time-stamp (!) doing a hip shake before her workout.]
I’m usually up between 4:30am to 5:30am. There’s a series of things that I do. The first thing I do is a mindfulness practice. I take ten minutes out, where there’s no one else awake in the world. And I’ll take those ten minutes to reflect. If a family member is sick, for instance, I just think and reflect through that.
Do you journal?
I just had this conversation last night with someone. I use to journal so much and I don’t anymore. I think I need to start again. I think it’s important to put those things down onto paper and just take ten minutes a day to reflect.
When you feel like you’re going to burn out, what are some things you do to help you get back to your full self?
I stop saying yes to everything. Like, I kind of just fall off the radar for a bit. For me, I’m good at learning when I’m getting close to burning out. It’s one of those things where I have to take a step back. It’s making sure I’m hitting all the checklists of things that make me feel complete. It’s taking those 10 minutes a day making sure I do things that matter to me, like calling my mom once a day, calling my dad every week. It’s those little checklist things that can slowly build up and make you feel like you’re not grounded if you forget to do them.
Throughout your posts, you have a great message of dedication, confidence in your body and in your dreams. What advice do you have for any woman out there who might be struggling with confidence?
I have two. The first one is understanding that the word “no” is only a detour to the word “yes.” That’s something my mom told me before I moved to New York. So if someone told me “no,” I’m like “Okay, so what’s our next option?”
My second piece of advice for feeling confident in yourself is to put your blinders on. Don’t compare yourself to others. It sounds so silly, but don’t follow people on social media who are not authentic. Find people who inspire you to be a better person. Not because you want to look like them but because you think they’re a genuine person. People are so competitive, especially women. I’m scratching my head sometimes because I just don’t get it.
What are your favorite products to pick up when you want to treat yourself to a night in? It could be a snack, beauty product, or something else?
I, literally, on a Friday night will go work out for 3 hours. It sounds weird but it really does set me on the right foot.
After my workout, I’ll order my favorite salad, go home, shower, eat, and watch Law & Order on the couch until I fall asleep. It sounds silly but falling asleep on the couch is such a rule-breaking move for me! It feels like I’m breaking the rules even though I’m not. Sometimes I’ll also do a face mask. Most people know that I don’t drink so having this time for myself is nice. I like having this ritual every single Friday.
So far, what has been the most rewarding moment for you in your career?
I think when I decided to leave my old job. And I had nothing else lined up. I literally just had my savings account. I think this was the most rewarding moment for me because that time taught me that it’s okay to not know what’s next. It’s okay that most people don’t know that I’m only 24.
There’s so much pressure in 2017 to feel like you always have a face put on.
And to come out of that experience to get exactly what I wanted was amazing. “Sometimes you have to let go of something good to make room for something great,” is something I learned from one of my yoga teachers. Taking that leap of faith can lead to so much good.
What do you want your personal legacy to be?
My whole mission with everything that I do is to help empower and inspire women. Because I feel like I didn’t have that. It’s so important for me to always be a role model. I get so many messages from so many girls , that say “you inspired me to do __.” I always respond to getting those kinds of messages with, “This made my day.”
The whole legacy thing is figuring out the next step to bring it all together. So it’s something more than those one-off messages, and something that’s not just my name. It’s great to have a personal brand but I want to be able to stand for something greater. For me, it’s to empower to women. I believe that’s my responsibility in this world.
Follow Nicole on Instagram @nicoleloher.
Photography by Heather Sten for GNI.