Written by NANDANIE founder Nancy Berman for Wolf and Badger's online newsletter.
In October 2021, I was finally free from a court system that tied me to my ex-husband and I received legal custody of my children. For the first time in five years post-divorce, I felt like I could breathe. The anxiety that became a steadfast part of my life was slowly lifting away. I was 48 years old and had spent the majority of my life supporting my ex-husband’s career, in every way, and taking care of my three active and incredible children. I wanted our kids to have a parent who they could depend on, focus on their needs, instil values of giving back to our society and most importantly, feel deeply loved by. I spent days and nights, as many parents do, cooking, feeding, shuttling, coaching, teaching, and nourishing our kids in all ways possible.
My middle child, who was now 17 and growing like a weed, decided to free up some much-needed space in his closet and give away his “little boy” ties. The kind that is pre-tied and adjustable for a child to easily wear on his own, I couldn’t resist putting one on. I had great memories of wearing ties in the 90s. I wore one to an event on my first night of college and it conjured up memories of feeling cool, confident, and stylish. My first thought was: ”Why aren’t there ties sold for women anymore?” I started to endlessly google ties for women and I wasn’t able to find any brands that sold stylish, luxury quality, pre-tied (because women are too busy to tie a tie in the morning!) neckties. At that moment the idea behind NANDANIE was born.
As a child, my school notebooks were full of clothing designs that I was envisioning one day designing. I attended college in New York City and planned to stay there to work in Fashion. However, I was also dating my ex at the time who was planning to attend Medical School in my hometown of Michigan. Putting my dreams aside, I moved back to be near him, marry him, and raise three children. I used my creative energies with a part-time artisanal cake business I ran out of my home, but I was now determined that it was not too late to start a career in fashion. I knew I had a lot to learn and starting my own company was going to be a challenge. I had previous experience in marketing (but those were the days long before social media existed) and served in various leadership roles in the non-profit arena. One of the skills I acquired was knowing the importance of surrounding yourself with a good team. I also love to meet creative and collaborative people who are open to new ideas and sharing past experiences. While in New York I was fortunate to meet an experienced luxury designer who has both of these qualities. I hired her to consult for NANDANIE to perfect my designs and guide me in the launch of NANDANIE.
You often hear that good things come in bundles (bad things as well, but we are going to focus on good here!). In September, I experienced a dream come true as I watched NANDANIE neckties grace the runways in New York Fashion Week and appear in luxury fashion magazines. The following month I was appointed by President Biden as a U.S. Commission Member for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad. The Commission helps restore, preserve, and memorialize cultural heritage properties, including cemeteries, monuments, and historic buildings associated with the heritage of U.S. citizens. A month later, before my 49th birthday I was sworn in in Washington, D.C. to serve our country in work that was very important to me. Through these two new roles in my life, I emphatically and proudly represent women and assert that you can accomplish anything with enough persistence, determination and passion. After being married to someone for so many years, who so badly wanted me to believe that I couldn’t accomplish anything outside of the home, I hope to share my experience and belief in the ability to conceive a new tomorrow. At any age and at any stage of life. Women lead through strength and empathy and I want every woman who wears a NANDANIE tie to not only look incredible but believe she is unstoppable.