“If you don’t like the road you’re walking, start paving another one.” – Dolly Parton
2016 – 2020 – Serendipity, Evolution and the New Beginning
In 2016, I created my own one-person consulting company. Why? I was working as a salaried employee of an IT services company in New York City (let’s call it, Company C, or CC), providing project management services to a major bank. I knew how much the bank was paying to CC, and I knew how much I was getting from them. When I learned to do the math, it was time for me to move on and go independent.
I named my company “Nikko Consulting Services, Inc.” It sounded like a prestigious company – there is a financial firm called “Nikko Securities,” and Japan Airlines (JAL) was also known as “Nikko,” a literal abbreviation of “Japan Airlines.” But the matter of fact was, Nikko was the name of my beloved cat.
My cat Nikko was named after a scenic tourist town North of Tokyo (Nikko literally means Sunlight). I grew up visiting the town of Nikko on various occasions – family trips, school excursions, road trips with friends, but most importantly, it was the place I went on a date with my now-husband.
When Nikko Consulting Services, Inc. was established, Nikko the cat was approaching 16 years of age. She had a sudden health decline in February, and passed away on March 3rd, two days after my company was officially established in the state of New York.
Then I lost my father to cancer on Christmas Day of the same year. He left me a small fortune, which I parked aside in my savings account.
Fast forward to 2019. 3 years after I went independent, I was making pretty good income, thanks to my one-person company with almost no overhead. But at the same time I was feeling increasingly unhappy with the stressful environment I was in. I developed chronic migraine, making me pretty much incapable of continuing an office-type job, where you keep staring at Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint slides between conference calls and meetings. So I resigned from the consulting position at the bank.
The next 6 months was the best time of my 8-year New York life, albeit the migraine, no income streams or a job title. I would go to knit gatherings in and around the City day after day, meeting wonderful creative knitters and fiber artists. My mother and niece visited me from Japan in that summer. My poor teenage niece, she had to endure her grandma (an avid knitter) and uncle go yarn shopping and to knitting meetups.
Using the free time, I started publishing my own knitting pattern designs on Ravelry (a knitters’ social networking site). It was great to have the creative outlet to express myself, and it was also so rewarding when other knitters enjoyed trying out my designs. So one day, I told my husband – I was ready to leave the corporate world indefinitely and focus my energy on knitwear designs.
The plan was to use the inheritance from my father and my own savings until my knitting design business would take off.
But doing so in a tiny one-bedroom apartment in New York City was not realistic for us, as he would often work from home and we would step on each other’s foot. After exploring different options, we ultimately made a decision to leave the City, for a bigger house in my husband’s hometown – Memphis, Tennessee.
I wanted a cool designer name, like Gregory Stitch Nation, or Josh “Knituation” Bennett. I came up with “Duke of Nikko,” as if I’m a distant relative of the Duke of York (my co-worker used to call me “Duke of New York”). Using my cat’s name, from the tourist town I knew from childhood, not too far from my father’s hometown, felt serendipitous, and just right.
So the preparation period is over, and the journey officially began on January 1st, 2020. Me, I am Duke of Nikko, a Japanese knitwear designer based in the Deep South City of Memphis. Howdy y’all!