Nika Diwa: No-Nonsense Fashion Doll

One day when I walked out to the store front, a young and beautiful, wide-eyed, long-haired, petite lady with perfectly tanned skin, dressed in a feminine off-white lace cutout crop top over chic wide-leg slacks was posing for pictures at different corners of the shop.  My thoughts went, “She looks like a doll… in the dollhouse (our shop has been many times described as dollhouse-like).”

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Little did I know that the lady, Nika Diwa, was indeed from a dollhouse! The Diwa Dollhouse, a New York City-based fashion blog that seeks to “empower women through a revelation of their worth” which has been featured  in partnership with events and brands such as New York Fashion Week, E News, and Huffington Post.

She graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fashion Merchandising from LIM College in NYC.  Her experience  as Merchandising Manager for the leading luxury consignment site, The RealReal (overseeing over six hundred Women’s designer brands such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and Hermès) as well as her experience in the buying and merchandising companies of Barneys New York, Ermenegildo Zegna, and Esley Collection further honed Nika’s eye for fashion.  And now, she is a fashion blogger and speaker.

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Nika by “The Garden” at Karen’s Kitchen.  Photo courtesy of Corinne Blanco.
One of our favourite regular customers at the shop, my friend Nanette Co, brought Nika with family and friends and I got to sit with them for a little bit and enjoy everyone’s company.  I learned that Nika was giving a talk on the Theology of Fashion that evening but unfortunately I couldn’t make it.  Nika, however, agreed to an interview about it to share with BITS readers!

Sharing our chat with you!

BUTTERFLYINTHESPRING (BITS):  Can you please tell me how you got interested in the “Theology of Fashion”?
NIKA DIWA IHEDIGBO (NDI): Ever since I moved to NYC to seriously study and pursue fashion, I noticed that the industry as a whole contributed to many self-value issues within women specifically. Knowing that God views each of us at such a priceless value, I made it my mission to go back to the bible to discover what God has to say about fashion and how we can apply that in today’s world.

BITS: What does the bible say about fashion?
NDI:  In light of my topic on the Theology of Fashion specifically, I look to Genesis 3:8-24. Here we see that Adam and Eve have just fallen to the first sinful act in the history of mankind. They then attempt to cover up their guilt and shame to hide from God, each other, and ultimately themselves. God then steps in in His very first move to pursue us by sacrificing an animal and making Adam and Eve garments of skin. This is extremely significant because God used fashion as his first demonstration of redemptive love towards us despite our sin and ultimately, it is a foreshadowing to His ultimate sacrifice on the cross.

BITS: How can we apply that in today’s world?
NDI:  Applying the truth that you are fully covered by the blood of Christ with an identity ransomed for and rooted in Him means that you can be freed from the bondage of chasing a counterfeit identity and live in the knowledge that you are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of Christ.

BITS:  How does a woman develop confidence in the beauty God created her to be, say, if what she finds in the mirror is completely opposite what would typically be found in halls of beauty like beauty magazines, etc.? 
NDI:  It begins as a heart transformation first. Looking at yourself as the BEAUTY God sees; viewing through the “lenses of Jesus”.

BITS: That is powerful… recognising that she is fearfully and wonderfully made, precious, priceless… That may come as a nice surprise for readers who might merely be looking for basic guidelines in styling or choosing clothing.  What would you share?
NDI:  First, always put on the confidence that you are primarily covered in Christ. This light will shine beautifully no matter what you put on. Secondly, know your body type so you can dress appropriately to most flatter your figure! (It is important to note that if you are confident in the beauty God created you to be, embracing your body type will follow naturally!) Lastly, don’t take fashion too seriously. Let your personality shine through and have fun with it!

nika oven
Nika by Karen’s Kitchen Kapitolyo’s Detroit Jewel oven.  Photo courtesy of Corinne Blanco.
BITS: When you say “primarily covered in Christ,” do you mean that the foundation of what you put on first and foremost is Christ before any article of clothing?
NDI:  Exactly! Christ is your foundational identity.

BITS:  How does that work?
NDI:  It starts from a heart transformation and seeps into the rest of your life on the outside. For example, instead of looking to the world to define my worth, I go to the bible to see what God says about me. Then I preach that truth to my heart. I love memorizing bible verses like 1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness and into His wonderful light.”

BITS:  Is this applicable to men and women?
NDI:  Yes, this is applicable to both genders as fashion is relevant to both. I just find that generally women are most openly affected by body-image and self-image issues relating to fashion.

BITS:  From what age?
NDI:  All ages; especially with the rise of social media, even our children are affected by what society says about self-image at a very young age. This is why it is crucial to order a healthy view and understanding of fashion at a young age.

BITS:  Can you give a tip for mothers on how they can orient their kids about fashion?
NDI:  Start having conversations early that pour and radiate positivity into their self worth. For example, invite them to join you and help you choose their clothes and explain why Jesus created fashion for them to bring out the beauty ALREADY embedded within them!

BITS:  Can your recommend some resources or is the topic of knowing your body type and finding correspondingly flattering clothes on your blog?
NDI:   I am always updating resources on this very thing on my blog http://www.diwadollhouse.com!

BITS:  I love what you said about “don’t take fashion seriously.” Have you seen the fashion sense of Emilia Clarke’s character in “Me Before You” with bumble bee tights, etc?  How do you balance the anything-goes with classy?
NDI:  Yes! I love that movie! I love how Emilia Clarke’s character comes to life when she is wearing those tights because for some special reason, those tights speak uniquely to her heart and soul. I can tell just by looking at her that she is bubbly, fun, and lives colorfully! As far as balance, generally, I like to choose 1-3 statement pieces to pair with a more classic piece so that the overall look isn’t too overwhelming.

BITS:  Do you think it’s important for women to know the theology of dress?
NDI:  Absolutely! Especially as believers, in the beginning was The Word. It begins here and ends here. This means that God has dominion over ALL and if it is true (and indeed it is!) that He is FOR our flourishing, we need to pursue His foundational truths concerning fashion. After all, He is the original designer!

BITS:  Wow! Before Christian Dior! Do you often share this topic (Theology of Dress) with groups?
NDI:  Yes! From larger conference sessions to smaller groups, I love to share this topic.

BITS:  How did you become interested in fashion?
NDI:  As a young girl, one of my favorite pastimes was watching my father maintain his wardrobe. He was always so meticulous in caring for his clothes; taking the time to really treat each item with precious respect. I witnessed it really manifest in the way he dressed and presented himself. It was then that I realized that fashion was so much more that clothing. It was a conversation to the world.

BITS:  Wow, a conversation to the world! Does it have to do with the respect he puts in what he represents?
NDI:  It is a conversation to the world in that it is a reflection of how the Lord created your heart and soul. That’s why people have such fascinatingly unique preferences and perspectives on style.

BITS:  Is this your main occupation or do you have another main job?
NDI: My main occupation is owner and content director of the fashion blog, Diwa Dolls.

BITS:  How did your blog Diwadolls.com come about?
NDI: The blog started as a fun fashion diary between me and my sister. It was a way for us to continue sharing our style ideas and inspiration with friends and family back home after we both relocated to NYC.

BITS:  What is it like working with your sister on this project?
NDI:  It is very seamless and natural for us. God blessed us with a special dynamic. We are best friends who have a foundational respect for one another. We also each have certain strengths that balance out our weaknesses specifically when it comes to business.

BITS:  I love your video together. You obviously have a wonderful relationship. Was there ever a stage when your relationship had rivalry? How did you overcome that?
NDI:  Only when we were very very young; I was 8 years old and she was 3. I was jealous having a new baby in the family after being an only child for so long. One day, we were playing on a playground and another child shoved Bianca. I ran to her defense against the bully and it became a deep conviction in my heart to always protect and love her from that day forward.

BITS:  What is your ambition?
NDI:  To join God in the renewal of all things.

BITS:  Can you please expound a little?
NDI:  As it pertains to fashion, as God has dominion over ALL, I am passionate about discovering more and more what He has to say about how fashion can best represent His heart towards people. As I have witnessed so much disorder (body image issues, unhealthy competiton, etc.), I desire to be used as God’s messenger in promoting a renewal of fashion; reclaiming it as fun and for the fearless. Our mission statement is empowering women through a revelation of their worth in Christ.

BITS:   That is powerful purpose!  It takes fashion passion to a higher level! I heard you just got married. Has marriage changed your fashion sense?
NDI:  Not as far as style. My husband and I waited until marriage before being sexually intimate; purity was God’s calling and it was our priority to see it through. Now that I am married, it is my joy to know what my husband loves and dressing up for him when we have special date nights! I believe I have a responsibility and joy to honor and love my husband even in the way I dress! It is a gift!

BITS:  Is there anything else that God is impressing on your heart to share for this post to encourage faith?
NDI: Always preach truth about who you already are in Christ, and the rest will follow. As 1 Peter 2:9 says, “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises on Him who called you out of darkness and into his wonderful light!”

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Lord, thank you for giving Nika Diwa the eye for outward fashion as well as the passion to open the eye to the value inside.  May You continue to use Nika to enable women (and men) to discover their true priceless worth in You and share Your message of redemption and love through her blog and life. May Your favor rest on her; establish the work of her hands for her, may You continue to go before her, protect her, bless her family and work, and her walk with You in Jesus’s name amen.

nika group photo everyone

L-R (Ptr) Russell Diwa, Mimay Inong, Beth Dan, Corinne Blanco, Karen Young, Stephanie Dan, Nika Diwa, Nanette Co, Manel Diwa.  (Thank you, Corinne Blanco, for the photos on this post!)

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Photo courtesy of Corinne Blanco

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Photo courtesy of Corinne Blanco

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