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Member Nika Diamond-Krendel on leaving the corporate world to become a creative

The Shoreditch House member, who founded leather goods brand Paradise Row, shares the lessons she learnt growing an independent business

By Megan Murray

Originally from Cheshire, Nika Diamond-Krendel moved to London to pursue an MA in business psychology, before becoming a management consultant in the financial industry.

'The essence of my role was to make businesses better, and with that came an element of creativity. But once I moved in-house at a well-known bank, this became stripped back,' she explains. 'Although I loved innovating for my clients, I should have been doing this for myself.'

Everything changed when Diamond-Krendel entered a competition to design a new app, and from hundreds of thousands of applicants, she won. 'I did it all - from the branding to planning the interface. It made me realise how much creativity was inside of me that was wasted in my current role.'

Living in east London, Diamond-Krendel started to notice various street names, such as Tanner Yard and Leather Lane, hinting towards a lost time when the area was known for its leather goods. 'I'm inspired by my environment, and as I walked around I became intrigued, then later influenced by the history of this part of the city. I felt passionate about recapturing this dying art and turning it into something contemporary,' she recalls.

This was the beginning of Paradise Row - a premium, lifestyle leather brand that puts design, quality and sustainability at its forefront to create a range of beautiful products intended for gifting.

'I've been thinking about being intentional with where I want Paradise Row to go,' she says. 'I want to celebrate the material - its beauty, quality and versatility - as well as the unique character of London. There are brands that do this so well, but they're about heritage and I want to be a marker of something fresh.

'This is one of the reasons I'm so happy to collaborate with Soho Home. It has a modern edge and represents a new, creative way of doing things. That's how I see Paradise Row's developing span of products, which focus on the emotion of giving or receiving a gift.'

For Soho Home, Diamond-Krendel has designed an exclusive leather plant pot which is available online now and at Soho.Home.Studio from November, alongside a curated selection of homeware, including a leather laptop case, cutlery pouch, and coaster set. These products show off the unique texture and quality of the leather, which is vegetable-tanned and produced with a UK manufacturer.

'Working with Soho Home is a dream,' she says. 'I wouldn't say I've made it yet, but seeing the reaction to my products shows me I'm on the right path.'

Looking back at setting up a brand from scratch, the designer just laughs. 'Sometimes, young naivety works in your favour,' she says.

'My advice to someone with a passion for starting their own business is to do it,' she continues. 'If possible, build a network of people who can help and support you before launch - one connection can propel your brand forward. I didn't have this and only reached out to those who could help once Paradise Row was in action.

'I think all creatives have a story to share and we need to find the right medium for them. I'm not a writer or an artist, but I've found mine. With my designs I'm using the tools I have to tell the stories I see around me.'