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Powerful Profile: Nikki Frenney-Wiggins

Powerful Profile: Nikki Frenney-Wiggins

by Melissa Magsaysay

To dive into Nikki Frenney-Wiggins’ popular fashion and lifestyle blog, nikkifreestyle.com, hallmarks of the Atlanta-based influencers style and personality splash across pages in the form of bold color, strong prints and a clear penchant for designer accessories. Visually, Frenney-Wiggins exuberant take on fashion is the imaginative and full-spirited respite we all need right now - a veritable bright spot that reminds us of the transformative and uplifting power of personal style. But, beyond the screen and within the local Atlanta community as well as many cities across America, it’s Frenney-Wiggins’ ability to bring people together as a community organizer and role in government relations and affairs that is creating a meaningful connection in her long standing work for social justice.

“I’ve always had a passion for news and for stories about people who looked like me and didn’t have a voice.”

A former journalist covering the police department, government and education in Orlando, Frenney-Wiggins eventually evolved her role as a reporter into being a spokesperson for the Florida Law Enforcement Agency. She has worked on high profile cases from the immigration and custody of Elián Gonzáles to the murder of Gianni Versace and through her in depth work immersed in local government and public policy, she has spent the last decade overseeing business affairs and development, media, communications and community relations for a transportation and transit service that runs over 100,000 vehicles throughout the country every single day. She has also been a long time consultant to state and city officials and civil rights leaders all over the US.

“I engage communities,” says Frenney-Wiggins, “My social activism comes from a long line. My grandparents and great grandparents took it so we could be in the position we’re in.”

Given her impressive background and continued work in social justice (and let’s not dismiss that enviable style that has helped her amass tens of thousands of followers on social media, brand partnerships and regular appearances on news segments) it’s no surprise that she was chosen as one of 3 winners of a “Real Women, Real Style” initiative by Redbook magazine. She appeared on their September 2015 cover.

Frenney-Wiggins is an influencer, but it is more than her style that inspires people who know her, to be engaged and focused on issues of social justice and bringing community together for the better.

Q & A with Frenney-Wiggins

Please tell us about your career background?

From a very young age, I wanted to be a journalist. I’ve always had a passion for news and for stories about people who looked like me and didn’t have a voice. In middle school and high school, I joined the newspaper and during my senior year was part of a program where I was able to secure an internship at the Orlando Times, which is a predominantly Black newspaper in Orlando. At Florida A&M University, which is a historically Black university, I majored in newspaper journalism. My first staff position was at the Fort Myers News Press, I was a general assignment reporter, covering police, government and sometimes education. After several years of being a newspaper journalist, I took a job as the public information officer for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. I was the spokesperson for the state’s law enforcement agency and addressed the press on all that we did, which included investigating local officials and handling the crime scene and managing communications around the Gianni Versace case.

I transitioned to handling government affairs and managing media for the Transit agency and now work with a transportation company that handles staffing and operations for cities all over the US. I run government relations and affairs, business relations and development. I’ve been immersed in local government and public policy, working with elected officials and civil rights leaders all over the country.

Has fashion always been an interest of yours? When did you start Nikki Free Style? What was the impetus to start the blog?

I’ve always been a fashion girl. My mom has 7 sisters and I am close in age to my youngest aunts. One of my mom’s sisters was the first African American buyer for (the department store) Burdine’s. She worked in Miami and would send us boxes and boxes of clothes. My grandmother would take us to the Greyhound bus stop to get these big boxes. My mom and her sisters were all fashion plates and I would be in awe watching them getting dressed. We are still very much a fashion family. My mom now shops on 11 Honoré. We both absolutely love Camilla.

I started doing the blog in February 2015 after people were constantly asking, “where did you get that?” Or saying, “I love the way you put that together.” My husband said, “you love to write, you love fashion, why didn’t you start a blog?” I began posting photos of what I was wearing. Soon, somebody nominated me for a contest Redbook magazine was doing for their “Real Woman, Real Style” awards. My blog wasn’t even 6 months old and I won! I was on the cover of their September issue. I then got more intentional about blogging.

Being dressed for that cover made me realize what a lack of stylish plus-size clothing there was out there. I have a lot of designer shoes and bags, but it wasn’t until 11 Honoré came along that I could wear designer clothing.

Thank you for your recent powerful post stating that "Black voices should be amplified now more than ever" and also for highlighting brands that are speaking, but also acting in a way that is supportive of the Black community. Why do you think it's important for brands to speak up now and what more do you think brands should do to ensure that it's far more than just an Instagram post?

Brand have to be much more forward facing and own it. Don’t just do it because something happens. Be intentional. Consumers buy from companies that are socially intentional. In fact, nearly 87% of consumers spend based on the company’s advocacy. In the age of social media, people are really supporting companies who act.

It’s really about being intentional in your advocacy and supporting groups that support you. Make a concerted effort to be fair, Not an effort, just be fair! Be authentic. Everyone has a role. We all have to do our part.

How would you describe your personal style?

I like a little of everything, but I would say it’s classic-trendy. I love classic lines and silhouettes, but love to add a trend to it. I love Tracee Ellis Ross and Solange’s style - Classic with a pop, color or print.

I love the tagline of your blog, "Colorize Your Curves" is that something you have always said? And what does it mean to you?

I haven’t always been plus, I was a tall and skinny kid. I could wear anything and everything and experimented with all kinds of looks and fashion. I had to get a lot more creative as clothes didn’t fit me the way they used to. Once I moved into plus-size, I started to hear all the things plus women “can’t” wear. We are always being told to “cover up”. I try and show plus size women how to incorporate color, so I say “Colorize your Curves” bring attention, don’t cower or hide yourself. Defy odds, show people that plus bodies are just beautiful as a size 4.

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