Today we’d like to introduce you to Nichole West.
Nichole, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I grew up in a household with artistic parents. Both artistic in different ways, but nonetheless pursuing the arts was encouraged. Some of my favorite memories from childhood are trips to Michael’s with my mom and sister to collect arts and crafts supplies. My mom had us create our own miniature dollhouses, snow globes, fabric-covered cork boards, Halloween costumes, collages, ornaments and more.
These first introductions to art were incredibly influential to my chosen path as they revealed the importance of having a creative outlet. It wasn’t until my early 20’s that jewelry as an art form came into the arena. My first exposure was while attending USC for an undergrad degree and discovering the jewelry district; an enclave of downtown LA where you find stores filled with beautiful chains, stone cabochons and strands of beads. This world stimulated me far more than what I was learning in college. Crystals were already an obsession, and what initially motivated me to create jewelry was the opportunity to work with stones in a more intimate way.
After graduating, I moved to Santa Monica and decided to take some private classes with a local jewelry designer to learn some of the basics. The techniques acquired from my first teacher were used for the following four years to support my jewelry making hobby. After becoming proficient with these techniques, that burning desire to dive deeper into the craft set in. This was when I decided, and quite honestly was given the gentle push by loved ones, to enroll in jewelry design school. The introduction to metal and flame was made during school and shortly after, my hobby blossomed into a small business.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The road to creating a jewelry business has most definitely had its challenges, all of which have provided me with fulfilling life lessons. First off, when it comes to crafting quality jewelry, the learning curve is steep, but like anything, the more hours put into a craft, the easier it becomes. Early on, there were many times when I felt discouraged because my mentors and fellow experienced jeweler friends made certain techniques look easy. A common pervasive thought was, “I’ll never be able to make quality jewelry like that.” Three years later, I can confidently say that I was dead wrong. As for the business side of things, gaining a loyal following and devoted customers takes consistency and before starting my business, I was not a fan of routines. Learning how to work within deadlines and post to IG regularly has become equally important to the success of my business as is getting into the studio to create pieces for collection releases.
Another obstacle encountered along the way was the resistance to put my art into the world. Leaning towards introversion, I struggled with sharing my art as it initially felt uncomfortable and scary. This step became easy and effortless over time as through sharing, you realize how many people see the world similarly to how you do. Lastly, through running a creative business I have experienced creative ebbs and flows. Sometimes the creative drive is strong and directive and other times, internal and reflective. Finding acceptance with both expressions has been key, as well as not putting the experience in a box. For example, when in a creative lull, I have had to hold the faith that the creative spark will ignite again. Setting up alternate streams of income, besides just jewelry sales, has proven to help alleviate some of the pressures that arise when feeling at a zero point creatively. Doing this has allowed me to run my business from a place of fluidity versus a place of scarcity.
Please tell us about Nichole West Designs.
Nichole West Designs is a one-woman show and was founded with the intent to craft quality jewelry pieces that end up being an extension of one’s inner soul language. Each person is uniquely drawn to different stones and designs, all of which I believe are expressions of one’s inner universe. It is common knowledge that clothes have been used to decorate our vessels with the purpose of self-expression. To me, jewelry can be used in the same way with the exclusive perk that stones and metal carry memory and healing properties. The handmade jewelry pieces I create are meant to stand the test of time and be passed down through the generations as a way of knowing those that came before on a more personal level.
I release my work in the form of collection releases typically inspired by a guiding theme. Whenever a collection is in the works, a story highlight is created on my Instagram (@nicholewestdesigns) were behind the scenes previews are posted. My jewelry pieces are largely inspired by the natural world, which is why a small portion of each sale made is donated to an organization called One Tree Planted. This is my way of giving back to the earth for what materials have been taken to bring NWD designs to life. Connecting with people through jewelry has proven time and time again to be a sacred exchange on many different levels. I love my job and contributing to the world in this way.
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
Honestly, I would not make any changes. Looking back, I can see how every decision, mistake and move that I made led me to where I am in now. There is no perfect way to start a business. You just have to start and fully commit yourself to the experience. I’m still just as clueless to the small business world as I was when starting, it just has changed form. It’s like a labyrinth with no ending. The learning never stops.
- Website: nicholewestdesigns.com
- Phone: 3105005938
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @nicholewestdesigns
PC: Greg Ferguson Photography