Oct. 7, 2013
By Rita Cook
Dallasite Nikki Duong Koenig, founder of Cykochik Custom Handbags, wants her products to reflect her style as well as her green and animal-friendly values.
She recently debuted a new line of her company’s handmade handbags to celebrate the company’s 10-year anniversary.
Started a decade ago in her dorm room at Southern Methodist University, Cykochik was Koenig’s screen name back then and, she says, the name stuck.
“It's pronounced ‘psycho chick,’ everyone gets a kick out of it when they realize that's how it's pronounced, then they ask if I'm really ‘psycho.’ I suppose I am a little bit for relentlessly pursuing my passions and always coloring outside of the lines. The name is meant to be tongue-in-cheek.”
A self-proclaimed “Dallasite at heart” too Koenig was born in Vietnam, but grew up in Dallas only taking one hiatus for four years in New York City.
As for her passion she defines it best: “I design and make fun and unique handbags and accessories,” she explains.
To that effect, Cykochik offers fun, custom and eco-friendly vegan handbags for art patrons worldwide and the owner also prides herself on being a green animal lover and a member of PETA Business Friends.
“I have always been an animal lover growing up on a city farm around animals. I’d wanted to be a veterinarian growing up,” she explains and that concept definitely comes through in her work.
“I have also always believed in responsible manufacturing and not harming our planet, people, or animals in the process,” she adds. “I’d taken the leap to dedicate 100 percent of my time to growing Cykochik this year and I want it to fully embody my ethos.”
As for the company’s designer, Koenig collaborates with a number of artists, some she has used over the years and more recently a few new ones such as Kevin Obregon, Jody Pham and Trung Vuong.
“I really respect their work for their unique styles and messages,” she explains of all the artists she collaborates with. “I have selected diverse artists in their styles and background, from hip-hop inspired graphic art to intricate ink illustrations, to reflect Cykochik's diverse community of artists, artisans and art patrons.”
Regarding her latest project to celebrate the company’s 10-year-anniversary, Koenig says it has been “a collaborative effort between me, the artists and Cykochik patrons” in order for her company to achieve three design-concept based themes for the latest Artist Series 3 Collection.
“The theme was ‘10’ to celebrate the 10-year anniversary [of the company],” she explains. “Then, I let Cykochik Facebook fans vote on which design from each artist they'd like to see produced for the collection.”
Along with the artists, Koenig works alongside each of them leaving nothing to chance in the design process from the beginning to end, from the construction of the bags to the design on the final product.
Her latest Artist Series 3 Collection is eco-friendly in its materials and production and is made of 100 percent polyurethane fabric, which is PVC free, biodegradable, phthalate free, BPA-free and also lead and heavy metal free. The company is also energy efficient in its productions with 99 percent of all water and raw materials used during the production process being reclaimed and recycled.
Koenig says her company too, only buys what they need to make bags and they keep a very small inventory.
“We don't waste materials and throw away tons of unsold products into the landfill after each season,” she continues. “Since we hand make our bags locally in Dallas and source most of our materials in the
US, we're reducing our carbon footprint in shipping as well. We also repurpose any unused bags to create new bags and practice reduce, reuse and recycle. We are striving to be more sustainable each and every day.”
Selling her products online she also has some of her designs for sale in local art galleries like at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary and the Gallery at Midtown.
Overall, when creating her Artist Series Collections she normally works with each of the artists in designing the one-of-a-kind pieces with about six pieces in the collection. However, for her recent Artist Series 3: 10 Year Collection, Koenig has expanded with a total of 18 pieces in the collection.
The handbags sale from $25 to $300. Her customers are worldwide as are her ideas.
“My vision is to grow a global brand with a collaborative community of artists, artisans and art patrons,’ she concludes.
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Rita Cook is an award-winning journalist who writes or has written for the Dallas Morning News, Focus Daily News, Waxahachie Daily Light, Dreamscapes Travel Magazine, Porthole, Core Media, Fort Worth Star Telegram and many other publications in Los Angeles, Dallas and Chicago. With five books published, her latest release is “A Brief History of Fort Worth” published by History Press. Contact her at [email protected].