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Meet Nicole Sands of Coco Sands

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

Thanks for sharing your story with us Nicole. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I have self-diagnosed creativity ADD. Yes, I know that’s not a real condition, but that is the best way to describe my personality – if I’m not creating something, I’m bored.

Whether I’m stirring up a new gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free or – as some would put it – “fun-free” recipe in the kitchen aimed at healing my autoimmune disease, researching new materials and designing sketches for future products, it is safe to say the wheels on my brain are always going ’round and ’round.

The moment I was legally able to start working at age 16, I was doing just that and more. “Wow, you have like three jobs!” is a phrase I heard on a daily basis that always made me feel satisfied, as opposed to annoyed or embarrassed. I wasn’t working for the money, rather I was working because I genuinely LOVED to interact with others and keep myself busy. To this day, that’s exactly how I stand.

After high school and during my first couple years of college, I found it a breeze to keep going with my multiple jobs – I interned at a top modeling agency in Los Angeles, repaired/made jewelry at a local bead store and launched my own jewelry brand all at the same time by age 19 – but when my third year of college rolled around, school no longer became a breeze and my passions, sadly, got pushed aside. I wasn’t paying thousands of dollars a year for college for nothing, so I figured it would only be appropriate to put my degree in Journalism to use. I suited up and landed my “dream” internship in the editorial world, where I began writing for a highly-recognized entertainment brand.

Fast forward to graduation and I had now had a permanent role, which I will be forever grateful for. However, suddenly, the word “dream” meant something else. I was no longer creating for myself. Instead, I found myself being creative with the ideas that were pushed upon me.

My idea of expressing my individuality while being one among thousands of employees doing the same task? Fashion. Scouring for new shops and brands – where I would stumble upon my next retro beaded jacket or a rustic pair of Levi’s that hugged just right – almost seemed to mimic a full-time job. However, something about my daily uniform, always consisting of jeans, seemed to be missing. A belt, and a sophisticated one at that.

And that’s how Coco (the nickname my younger sister gave me) Sands was born. In accordance to my sharp ideas that guided me on a path through the world of jewelry making and on to become a successful journalist, the ‘Brook Buckle’s’ distinct shape – my first signature piece – demonstrates the sharp turn I’ve made upon finding my calling in the fashion industry.

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?
The road has been as smooth as my leather – soft with some texture to add character.

Before I began my journey as a designer, I had plenty of people around me warning me not to waste my “money or time” by putting it into a brand, as it’s “very hard to succeed” in the world of fashion. But that went in one ear and out the other, clearly. I would rather have a life of ‘oh wells’ rather than ‘what ifs.’

In the short time, Coco Sands has been around – still just under a year! – working past those negative comments and finding my place in the industry has been the biggest struggle, yet the most rewarding part of launching my brand. Today, my daily task is to gain the public’s familiarity with my line and to do what I love most – design.

Coco Sands – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Trends come and go, but I strive to create enviable products that could hold their own through every season of “spring cleaning” amid the forever fluctuating fashion industry. I create day-to-night accessories that are more ornate than just any ordinary belt you would use to hold up your pants, but sophisticated enough to look elegant while wearing them (silly ladies, belts aren’t always for jeans!).

The ‘Brook Buckle’ sets us apart from other brands, as every inch of it was designed by me to resemble my own personal transition from beginning my career in journalism to finding my calling as a designer. Coco Sands carefully sources hides that are solely by-products of the meat industry to minimize waste.

Each belt is hand-cut to perfection and constructed from the finest leather right here in Los Angeles, California! But when it comes to the waist chains, that’s where I let my crafts (wo) manship skills thrive. Whether it’s Double Waist Chains or the belts incorporating the Tibetan bone centerpieces – also a by-product of the meat industry – I assemble each and every one of those with my own bare hands.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
The incredible response. Every day, every sale, every wear is a proud moment. Because my line is still so young, just seeing the overwhelming and positive comments from those who see, feel and wear the product keeps me going everyday!


  • Black Lizard ‘Brook’ Leather Waist Belt – $150
  • Cocoa Ostrich ‘Brook’ Leather Waist Belt – $150
  • Dove Gray ‘Brook’ Leather Waist Belt – $140
  • Sand Snake ‘Brook’ Leather Waist Belt – $140
  • White Hair-On ‘Brook’ Leather Waist Belt – $165
  • Poppy Patent ‘Brook’ Leather Waist Belt – $165
  • Black/White Bone ‘Arlo’ Waist Chain – $90
  • ‘Laurel’ Double Waist Chain – $80
  • ‘Asher’ Double Waist Chain – $80

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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.

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