Today we’d like to introduce you to Nichole Collins.
Hi Nichole, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
At a young age, I began to explore various mediums of visual art, specifically painting and clay. It wasn’t until I took a Metalsmithing class at the University of Kansas that I discovered my real passion. During my last semester at KU, I had the honor of studying at Lahti Polytechnic Institute of Design and Fine Arts in Lahti, Finland. I had the experience of a lifetime in Finland, that continues to influence my work to this day. I would go on to receive my BFA in Metalsmithing and Jewelry Design from KU in 2006. Since graduating, I have had the privilege to gain inspiration from continued travel abroad and am happy to call Lawrence, Kansas my home.
Traveling across the country, I have exhibited my jewelry in hundreds of art fairs. It is an exciting time of year, with adventures around every corner. From Portland to the Florida Keys, from the upper peninsula of Michigan down to the sunny skies of Houston. Denver, Chicago, Dallas, Memphis, Des Moines, Omaha, Kansas City, and St. Louis have been some of the sites of my journey. I live a nomadic life, filled with cherished memories, that I am proud to be living. My business has given me the world and the freedom to travel it.
Alright, 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?
My entire life, I have loved horses and was fortunate enough to start riding them at an early age – hunters and jumpers. While learning to ride, I started to become acquainted with that old saying, “When you fall down, get back up”. Little did I know that I was learning a valuable lesson that would be very impactful in my business adventure.
When I first started my business, I was very introverted and scared about really jumping into my journey. I experienced so many new things – talking to customers, traveling all over the country by myself, dealing with the elements (rain, tornadoes, and flash flooding – oh my!). I was so young, 22 to be exact! However, even though I was scared, I kept trying.
The confidence I’ve gained doing this business has been immense. I actually sometimes compare it to living the life of a rockstar – I get to go “on tour”, I’ve got my devoted customers (my “groupies”) and I get to get on stage nearly every weekend in my 10×10 booth. My jewelry has become my “song”. It is a means of communication for me. Things that are hard for me to express in words are expressed through my jewelry. Hope, survival, and healing are big inspirations that I’m showing in my work now. It is all about my customers experiencing my art in a meaningful way – and there is pride in that for me.
One part of my job, in particular, gives me a ton of pride – and that is my tribe of fellow artists. This business isn’t just a business; when you’re on the art fair circuit, everyone knows everyone. It has turned in to a family for me. I spend holidays with my tribe and when we get together, it’s like a big family reunion! We are always there for each other. If someone is in a windy location at a show, we go out of our way to give what we have – whether that be extra weights or a friendly face to laugh through the hard times with as things are flying everywhere. We travel, room together, eat together, laugh until our stomachs hurt, and sometimes we’ve even cried together. Without my tribe, I couldn’t have made it where I am today.
I faced my fears and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else in my life. My favorite parts of my job are the ones I was originally fearful of – working with my customers, traveling across the country, spending time with my tribe, and meeting new people is what I live for! I am proud that I never gave up on my dream. I never quit when it got hard. I refused to let my fear and insecurities win – and I’ve been fortunate enough to really have something to show for it.
Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I am a metalsmith, jewelry designer, and artist. My innermost thoughts and emotions are expressed subconsciously through my jewelry. I typically start a piece without a distinct plan, then let it guide me towards a creative journey. I follow my intuition until my design tells a story.
I was drawn to metalsmithing because I found my subconscious imprints itself on each design with its own story. Each impression on the material is controlled by an intent that is often only revealed once the piece is complete.
The common theme running throughout my collections is an inquisitive draw to the fragile, imperfect, and discarded elements of the world around me. Whether it is the undulating drape of a silk garment thrown onto a chair or the frayed and rusted pieces of a dying zinnia flower placed underneath my magnifying glass. I use hammers I inherited from my late best friend to create the anticlastic work. These pieces have a personal significance to me and have helped me express my grief. I am always borrowing from the forms I encounter, then attempting to capture and immortalize their meticulous details in my work. I specialize in creating custom jewelry for my customers and have worked with numerous couples to create one-of-a-kind wedding rings. I enjoy making memorial jewelry for those who have lost loved ones, as I believe it helps the grieving process, by having something to remember them by forever. All of my work is handmade, giving each piece of jewelry individual attention so no one piece is exactly the same. I work with sterling silver, 14K, 18K, and 22K gold. I combine oxidized silver with 14K rose gold and 18K yellow gold to create contrast, and I also use a variety of stones including diamonds, sapphires, rubies, tourmaline, and chrysocolla drusy. I use rose-cut stones because they have unique and unusual inclusions.
Made to last, I work hard to ensure my pieces are as durable as they are timeless. It is important to me that my customers are able to purchase my jewelry with a clean conscience; therefore, all materials and stones are ethically sourced with the utmost care, ensuring a humane and environmentally sound footprint.
I am most proud of receiving an award of Excellence Plaza art fair. I was also selected to be a Juror at the 2021 Brookside Art Annual.
The personal relationships I have with customers is what sets me apart from others. Many of my longtime customers have become dear friends.
Do you have recommendations for books, apps, blogs, etc.?
To come up with new designs or a solution to a complicated piece I’m working on, I need to be in a place of peace. This must be somewhere I essentially think of nothing but the stillness, solitude, and beauty around me. It is a very organic process rooted in nature. I am most relaxed when I’m in my rose garden, in the woods in the middle of nowhere – hunting Morel mushrooms and deer sheds, or on the beach of Sanibel Island, Florida. These activities allow my creativity to flourish and help me contemplate significant details in my work. They help me perform at my very best.
- $136- $250
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: www.nicholecollinsjewelry.com
- Instagram: @nicholecollinsjewelry
- Facebook: @nicholecollinsjewelrybusiness