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Meet Nicole O of DroolBall in The Valley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nicole O.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I’ve always been into drawing and painting, but as a kid/tween, I would also steal my big sister’s clothes and try to cut them up in different ways, she would get so pissed at me, of course, with good reason. I would get so confused because I wasn’t being vindictive, I was just trying to make something new. It wasn’t until my early 20’s that I really got comfortable with my art style/vision and finally had the motivation to start putting myself and my ideas out into the universe. It was definitely a rocky road getting to that point.

I had a for lack of a better term ‘a nervous breakdown’ in my mid 20’s because of just way too much stress at my job, and some very awful losses in my personal life. As a result, I quit my full-time job, for a while continued working as a kid’s party clown, then had to quit that because of very bad panic attacks and depression. I now look back and laugh at all of the times I cried in the mirror with a full clown costume on before working at a birthday party. It seems so comedic and silly now to reflect on that, but this is my life, and you have to be able to laugh at yourself.

After trying so many different things to feel better, one thing that helped was keeping my hands busy and my mind occupied. About four years ago, I got this idea to make these awful high waisted granny panties which I’d add among other things, my favorite funny sayings, movie quotes, and song lyrics to. Ideas for funny shit to put on t-shirts has been a forever past time of me and my siblings, so I thought, I can sew, kind of, why not weird panties instead of t-shirts.

Over time, I’ve now made coin purses, bags, bolo ties, mini sculptures, modified 2nd hand clothes, and so much more. I have now made hundreds of this or that, and have so gratefully sold my work to hundreds of people. I am just a funny little footnote on the art/fashion world’s epic ass, but that’s ok, I am doing what makes me happy and comfortable, and am so humbled by anyone who reaches out to me and wants to buy a little treasure I’ve put my sweat blood and tears into.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
More recently, I’ve gotten a design of mine stolen from a huge clothing corporation.

When you’re just the little guy, you don’t think this will happen to you, you don’t think oh shit, I should probably copyright this shitty idea of mine first, no one will steal it because no one really knows about it. Etc. Then you go, whatever I’m gonna post it on my Instagram or what have you anyhow because it’s mine and I want to share it.

I’m still struggling with how to copyright my work, and get the law involved should this happen to me again. Knowing that something I made with my hands is being manufactured and sold by assholes is a shitty feeling. I know many other independent artists this has happened to as well, it is just so upsetting.

Most of us are also living paycheck to paycheck and can’t afford to sue somebody anyway (or that’s what we think if we are unaware of any resources that might be available to someone like us). In addition, I have always worked 40-60 hour work weeks on top of my own endeavors, so getting the motivation to make more content when I’m home, after having worked all day, Is just daunting.

However, you end up excepting that as a reality because you need to do what makes you happy, and be able to afford your life. DroolBall has in a way become my shitty teenage daughter that smokes and says shit a lot. Some days I love her, some days I hate her, but I’ll never give up on her. Funny, not funny. 🙂

Please tell us about DroolBall.
DroolBall has become an underdog online shop with everything from wearable freaky art, from clothing to accessories, paintings, modified dolls, etc. I’m known for the wacky panties which got me started, but now to most recent.

I think I’m known for t-shirts with sayings on them like Die Thanks, Total Bullshit; or Don’t tell Daddy. A lot of my stuff also has a morbid and darkly comedic outlook on death, as death is something we all have to come to terms with happening to us at some point, which a few years back, was a huge struggle for me.

I think what sets me apart is my somewhat elementary approach to how I put images/lettering on my work. I don’t use a printing press, or silkscreen, or even something like a Cricut machine to do the cutting job quicker.

It’s all embroidery, textile paint, or PVC heat press vinyl that is all by hand, with no tracing, etc. In the beginning, I simply used those iron-on letters you buy at the craft store.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
When I was about ten my Mom, and her four sisters were losing their mom (my Nana) as she was in her last days at a Hospital in Apple Valley, Ca. All five sisters were in the waiting room at the Hospital, along with me, my older sister, brother, and cousin.

I come from a long line of very loud, crazy witch cackling insanely weird women. One of my Aunts, Linda, pulls out this raggedy old doll head out of her purse and says, ” Ok who wants to play Dolly Ball??” We all start cracking up and throwing this shitty old doll head around the waiting room of the Hospital.

This is one of my very favorite memories for a couple of different reasons: We didn’t see our Mom and her four Sisters often, in addition, it was just a huge lesson to me as a tiny ten-year-old Nicole, that when shit is rough, to have the mind power to laugh and lighten the mood, even in the shittiest times in your life is just so important.

I had so much fun with my family that day, we always seemed to figure out a way to laugh at some weird shit even when life wasn’t being very kind to us. I’ve held on to that laughter, and believe my whole life, and it is so important to me. Hearing five grown women laugh, and their laughs all sound like a bunch of witches cackling is a great memory in itself. 🙂

Pricing:

  • *I only want readers to note that my price range is anywhere from $7.00 – $60.00 (I try to price as low and friendly as possible, I get it, I am broke a lot too) but depending on how much work, or supplies, went into making that item is a huge factor. Please understand you are paying for a piece of me and my life, no matter how basic or intricate that item is, you’re always getting a genuine one of a kind item. 🙂

Contact Info:


Image Credit:
Shannon Rose

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. Fred

    April 3, 2019 at 20:50

    That’s my Niece, named after my Wife. She’s one of a kind and loved by all!

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