The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Totes for a Cause


Cykochik’s vegan handbags are creative, bright, and cruelty-free.

From the humble beginnings of her handbag company, Cykochik, SMU graduate Nikki Duong Koenig knew she wanted to make a difference in the world through her love of fashion.

Nikki Duong Koenig created Cykochik (pronounced psycho-chick) in her SMU dorm room in 2003 as a creative outlet. Before Facebook was popular, Koenig’s Instant Messenger screen name in college was Cykochik. She used the name as a label for her art and designs and has kept it every since.

The name Cykochik is “sort of an alter-ego, something I think we all have,” said Koenig.

While at SMU, Koenig interned for Willie Baronet, former owner and creative director of an advertising agency called GroupBaronet (now MasonBaronet). Baronet remembers Koenig as a hardworking intern and supported her ideas for Cykochik from the beginning.

I knew she was working on Cykochik during her time at school,” said Baronet. “I had all the confidence in her and believed that she would succeed.”

After graduating in 2004 with an advertising major, Koenig knew that Cykochik had the potential to become a successful business. Today, Cykochik has expanded into a company that allows Koenig to support animal and children’s rights through the sales of her unique and custom made handbags.

The Texas-based vegan handbag and accessory brand supports responsible manufacturing without endangering people or animals. All of Koenig’s bags are 100 percent sweatshop-free, BPA-free, animal product-free, and biodegradable. Her collaboration with various non-profit social organizations helps to promote animals and children in need.

“We express ourselves creatively through what we wear and carry, and I believe we can express that without harming others, the planet or animals,” said Koenig.

Cykochik Custom Handbags are available atThe McKinney Avenue Contemporary andThe Gallery at Midtown, as well as online

The handbags are made locally in Dallas and feature seven different artists who collaborate together to create the unique designs for Cykochik. In 2013, Koenig was able to quit her job in advertising to pursue a full-time career as the founder and owner of Cykochik.

Koenig launched her first ever Causes Collectionon February 22 in the hopes of supporting her passion for charitable causes. The Causes Collection was created to raise awareness and donate 25 percent of the proceeds towards Against The Grain Productions (ATG) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

“Those are the two organizations I’m very passionate about,” Koenig said.

ATG is a non-profit organization that aids orphanages in Asia and helps to promote awareness and unity of Asian American culture nationwide. SMU alumnae and founder of ATG, Tammy Nguyen Lee, believes that Cykochik’s ATG clutch makes a statement that represents the marriage of her charity and Koenig’s brand.

Cykochik’s PETA clutch is available in a variety of different colors and features PETA’s signature rabbit ($125).


As a very active working mom, I love products that are thoughtfully crafted, durable, multi-purpose, low maintenance, highly functional yet fashionable and socially responsible,” said Lee.

In addition to donating a portion of sales from the Cause Collection, Koenig currently serves as ATG’s Ambassador and previously served as the company’s Vice President and Director of Marketing.

Koenig has invested herself into ATG’s company and believes in what they are doing to help the world.

“Cykochik and ATG are my passions and they both share the same mission in supporting the arts, so my work for both is seamless at times,” Koenig said.

Koenig is Texas’ first designer to pair with PETA to create a collection. Cykochik sparked PETA’s interest and recognized Koenig with the “Compassionate Business Award” in 2013.

As a member of PETA’s “Business Friends,” Cykochik works with PETA to help stop animal abuse and suffering in the fashion world. Cykochik’s cruelty-free policy stems from Koenig’s own abstention from eating meat.

Cykochik’s ATG foldover clutch is available in both black and red ($125).

Cykochik’s Cause Collection features a playful clutch that is stamped with PETA’s signature rabbit. This collection was first spotted at Dallas’ 2013 Pin Show, and has been coveted by fashionistas ever since.

“When I bought a clutch from Cykochik, I had no idea how special the company actually was,” said SMU student Vicky Wu. “I got the purse because I thought it was cute, I didn’t even know the amazing causes it supports until I did some research.”

Along with developing more creative ideas for collections, Koenig wants to continue to help people and animals in need through her handbags.

Cykochik “is always going to strive to be a more sustainable company each and every day,” Koenig said.

All images courtesy of Nikki Duong Koenig.

Alexandria Bauer is a junior journalism major at SMU and can be reached by email at [email protected].


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