Any New Yorker who loves BoConcept has Niki Cheng to thank. Niki and her husband were the masterminds who brought the Danish brand to NYC and are now the Company's most successful franchisees, but not before almost emptying their savings account.
It wasn't just a shot in the dark though, the Malaysian born Cheng majored in architecture before receiving her diploma in interior design from the Malaysian Institute of Art. This training gave her a seasoned eye the a knack for practical design which has made her a success. Of course, it doesn't stop there, Niki gives back by supporting many charitable organizations including Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS, VH1 Save the Music, Ali Forney Center, the Rainforest Foundation, The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, Housing Works and the Asia Society.
Niki has also been named one of the 10 most fashionable Asian Americans in New York City, alongside the likes of Jason Wu, David Chang and Yoko Ono. Not bad for a day's work!
"My husband Shaokao and I were renovating our small one bedroom apartment and we were struggling to find a mid-range priced modern furniture store in Manhattan. One day, we saw BoConcept ad inside an interior design magazine and we fell in love with the Danish brand! Their furniture is exactly what we were looking for for our own apartment! We decided to be the first people to open a BoConcept franchise in the U.S. and we've since become one of the company's most successfully operated franchises in the world!
In terms of obstacles, the biggest one we had to overcome was managing customer service. When we first opened BoConcept stores in NYC, over 10 years ago, we were just starting out in the retail world. After our first orders went out, we quickly learned that we needed to create a customer service department to cater to our customers while we focused our time and energy on what we do best: interior design and selling furniture!
The achievement I am most proud of is having so many celebrities ask me to design their homes! I've helped Lucy Liu, Mary J Blige and Liev Shreiber to name only a few. It's such a thrill! I was also ecstatic about designing and furnishing the lounge for Mercedes Benz Fashion Week last season! I'm crazy about fashion and so this was a true honor."
For more on Niki, check out her blog.
Unbuttoned with Niki Cheng
Style icon: Coco Chanel
Favorite heroine: Meryl Streep
Dream lunch date: Madonna
Favorite cliché: Laughter is the best medicine.
Personal motto: Do it NOW because you don't want to look back and and think "Shit! I wish I did it!"
Idea that changed your life: Bringing in a new lifestyle brand from Denmark and make it work in NYC.
Always trying to improve: Practicing yoga daily.
Most envious of: Giselle's long legs!
Most inspired by: Karl Lagerfeld.
Fashion item you would ban: Heavy necklaces
Favorite piece in your wardrobe: my bright red Bottega clutch which I bought more than 15 years ago!
Biggest extravagance: Taking a private plane from NYC to Vegas!
Can’t bare to spend on: First class plane tickets.
Irrational fear of: Mice
Brains or beauty: Both!
Audrey or Katharine Hepburn: Audrey
Jennifer Lopez or Lawrence: Lopez
Diamonds or pearls: Diamonds