Local Creative Nicole Manning Finds Community and Purpose In the Denver Fashion Scene

With hairdressing, modeling, thrifting and styling in her repertoire, local creative Nicole Manning has combined her love of community, sustainability and self-expression via her involvement with the Denver fashion scene.

Originally from North Carolina, Manning has lived in Colorado for five years. After practicing real estate, she returned to hairdressing in 2020. Manning explained that hairdressing not only allows her to have a stable work-life balance but that it provides ample opportunities to form connections with other people.

“Doing hair is a great way to serve people. I’m able to sit with them, listen and be present,” Manning said.

Manning, who started modeling when she was 17, credited her mother and grandmother for her inherited creativity. Taking the leftover scraps of fabric from her grandmother’s sewing projects, Manning would piece clothes together as a child. In having fashion shows with her friends, she developed an interest in fashion at a young age.

Manning is represented by Donna Baldwin Agency and models for projects that reflect her personal values in serving a larger purpose. Some of her most fulfilling jobs have been with brands coming from out of state to shoot in Colorado. She noted a particularly special project with a church in South Carolina. 

“That job was phenomenal—waking up at 4 a.m. to get your makeup done at the bottom of a mountain, then climbing up the mountain before sunrise. I have friends in South Carolina who go to that church, they were able to pick up the magazine with a shot of me on the cover,” Manning said. 

While working with another brand, Francis and Benedict, Manning combined her modeling career with her passion for sustainability and ethical fashion. The brand provides Togolese seamstresses with jobs making patterned skirts for livable wages, which relates directly to the principles Manning promotes in her own thrifting business. 

As part of her rebellion against fast fashion, Manning began thrifting, forming connections with other resellers at the thrift stores she frequented. Sydney Swing, the owner of Manic Pixie Thrift, invited Manning to her first pop-up after recognizing her from the Goodwill while the two were at church. Since then, Manning has been part of Swing’s monthly pop-up, Tags N’ Tats.

Manning emphasized the importance of being present amongst fellow creatives, and just how special those friendships can be when one puts themselves out there.

“Everyone is unique. In the creative community, we’re highly expressive and energetic about it. When people are expressing themselves, there is a level of vulnerability present, and it’s just so exciting to be around people who are being themselves,” Manning said.

It was important for Manning to ensure expansive accessibility in her reselling practices, with her top priority to get customers away from fast fashion companies. When it comes to the future of sustainable fashion, affordability is a key player. 

“I understand that not everyone can afford certain clothes, nor have access to unique vintage. That is why as a reseller, my prices are fairly inexpensive.” Manning said.

Materials, patterns and color all play a role in Manning’s final decision when shopping for the pieces she plans to resell. In the spirit of sustainability, the material has to be able to withstand multiple washes and wears. Because of this, most of the clothing Manning resells tends to be vintage and made in the U.S., as it is typically made with higher quality materials.

While sustainability and thrifting have become somewhat of a recent trend, Manning hopes to shift people’s perspectives and show them just how cyclical fashion is. Through her reselling efforts, she hopes to demonstrate that thrifted fashion is not a momentary style fad.

Manning also offers personal shopping and styling services in which she encourages her customers to use fashion as a way to build confidence and showcase their personality.

“I like to dress according to my personality — according to how I feel that day or how I want to feel that day. It sets the tone, and I like to encourage that same mentality when I dress others. Sometimes that means experimenting with something they wouldn’t always pick up,” Manning said.

Manning undoubtedly has her hands full between hairstyling, modeling and her thrifting business. She explained, however, that her ample amount of time, energy and flexibility has allowed her to explore her many interests.

“I haven’t set too many long-term goals. If I had a big goal in mind, I might have been too dialed in and wouldn’t have ventured on this path. If modeling or hair was the big goal, I probably wouldn’t have even started thrifting,” Manning said.

Keeping herself grounded in the present and open to meaningful connections are integral parts of Manning’s success, and remain at the core of her life philosophy.

“I’m excited about new opportunities and look forward to where this journey leads. I wouldn’t have been able to do any of these things if it wasn’t for God blessing me with these strengths, and for the community of people I’ve found throughout this journey,” Manning said. 

All photos courtesy of Nicole Manning.