Nonpareils Designs {Shop Highlight}

I recently had the delight to interview an online friend of mine, Nikola, about her small business. Nikola is a super diversely talented young lady, who also shares a passion for God and creativity. Hope you’ll find some inspiration from this interview– and a lovely one-of-a-kind item from her shop (*wink*)!

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Tell us a bit about yourself and your shop/ business {Nonpareils Designs}.

It all began in 1991 when I was a little girl in Quebec, Canada. As members of the folkloric dance group “Les Mariniers de Granby”, my sister, Valerie, and I had an early introduction to the wonders of cultures around the world! Today the colors of the globe continue to flavor my life as I “weave” them into clothing and jewelry designs that are truly one-of-a-kind!

 

How long have you been hand-crafting?

I began designing my own historical costumes at age 10.

My first encounter with the actual production process was when I was 4 years old – pressing the sewing machine pedal as my favorite dress slowly took shape under my Mum’s skilled hands.

I made my first doll dress when I was 10 years old..and I haven’t stopped sewing since 😉

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A fine showcase of Nikola’s skill, this Spanish formal doll dress.

 

 

Who or what was your initial inspiration in your creativity? How were you inspired?

The first word that comes to mind is “music!”.

We had music playing constantly when I was growing up. I wore out my beloved cassette of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker and Swan Lake listening to it until I knew it by heart. There was a liveliness expressed in the tunes that seemed to weave its own tapestry of colors and textures, like an audible work of art waiting to be transformed into something visible.

But it wasn’t until I discovered the authentic music and dances of ethnic cultures that my creative fancies began to take flight. The people who wrote those dances and music loved the land they had wrestled to cultivate. They took designs from creation and wove them into their own art, showcasing them in their dances and in their stunning folk dance costumes!

That — and the embroidered trim aisle at the fabric store 😉 —  was the drive behind the creative work that makes Nonpareils Designs possible today. There is history in my designs – history and art – expressions of ethnic cultures past and present.

Nonpareils celebrates life!
What sorts of items do you make?

I began with internationally inspired clothing for little girls. Since then I have widened my “repertoire” to include hand beaded bracelets and historic doll dresses.

The research for these designs can come from so many sources, whether it’s the motifs etched into the keystone of an ancient archway, or the gilded embroidery stitched into an heirloom folk costume!

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I adore these darling little girl’s dresses inspired by the Philippines!

What is your favorite thing to make?

That’s a hard question! One of my favorite things are the beaded bracelets – they look like shimmering pieces of embroidery, and are SO addictive to plan and make!

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An exquisite Renaissance-inspired bracelet by Nonpareils Designs

 

 

 

What has proven to be the most challenging or time-consuming of your projects?

The most time consuming garment I made as part of my business was probably a spring dress I made during Nonpareils’ first years. Inspired by a Danish folk outfit, this dress featured an eyelet bodice contrasted by a striped skirt and was accented by many different edgings and trims.

Amongst my collection of personal projects the biggest – and most exciting – challenge was a replica of a Southern European folk dress from the Balkan countries (more precisely, Sumadija, Serbia). Pleats and embroidery are two of my favorite fashion accents – and this costume showcased both!

 

Where do you envision your business in the next 5-10 years?

I have big changes in mind for Nonpareils Designs.

One desire I have had for some time is to offer more women’s clothing on my site. I hope to make this a celebration of the art of motherhood, featuring children’s clothing that compliment women’s fashion, both in keeping with the ethnic flare.

My dream is to make fashion a very personal experience – what we wear should be a source of motivation in our life’s work, as well as an inspiration to others around us!

In a broad sense, Nonpareils strives to merge fashion with the arts in all its forms– from the courageous job of a parent, to the creative endeavors of an oil painter or the work of a concert master.

My hope is to define these concepts in my fashion designs over the next several years.

 

What keeps you creatively inspired?

Every time I look out the window I find myself newly inspired. This world is a masterpiece created by the Divine Artist! What He has given us through the ages is what I try my best to “weave” into my designs.

On a more practical level, I might take a drive down country roads or through towns I’ve never seen…or go hiking with family…or browse through a travel magazine.

My very favorite way to keep the creative juices flowing is to practice my folk dance moves 😉   
How do you promote/ market your business? What works best?

During the first years of my business I introduced my designs at the Goshen Farmers’ Market of Edwardsville, a market specializing 50% in produce and 50% in arts and crafts. The experience was fun– but profit was low.

My suggestion: anyone hoping to sell specialized items priced over $25.00 should probably stay away from the Farmer’s Market idea 😉 Saturday morning shoppers love to buy small gifts but are not usually ready to make large investments.

Since then I have established an online shop with Etsy. Online shopping is the smartest route to take for small businesses these days. The only disadvantage is that SO many talented artisans are selling through Etsy that it can be easy to get “lost”.

Fortunately, Etsy offers many tips for promoting and publicizing your shop, so if you’re willing to invest a lot of time in that area (preaching to myself, here!), you will have a great chance of being a successful online salesman! 🙂

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This kitten rubber stamp is pure cuteness!

Who is your target audience? Who would typically buy an item from you?

At this point, shoppers on my site would be those looking for clothing and jewelry for women and children. That would include mothers, grandmothers, aunts…and any other woman hoping to find that special gift for a sister or child in her life!

 

Check out Nikola’s Etsy shop and click on the button below to visit her blog.

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On Being A Graduate

December 1st brought my official graduation from highschool. And 10 days later, I celebrated that occasion with a few close friends and family members.

Y’all, I’m SO relieved to be DONE! But now, I feel a little lost. Despite that (and being maybe a *tad* bit scared, ha!), my curious nature is dying to know what God has next for me. We’ll have to wait and see, I guess. 😉

Also, my senior portraits are up on the web! 🙂

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Fun Jennifer, from my college Bible study group. She always inspires me to be more creative and not despair in my learning.
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Chris, another friend from my college Bible study group
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Mr. A. (or “uncle” Larry– he’s honorary family) has made a HUGE positive impact on my life the past decade. We’ve been through a lot together and he’s always an encouragement! Next to my dad, grandpa and brothers, he’s the man I admire the most.
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Darling Jessica, yes– another friend from my college Bible study group. 😉 Hey, what can I say? College-aged peeps make AWESOME friends! XD
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What would I do without family? They have rebuked me, spurred me on to greater things, and supported me as I trudged my way through the trenches of highschool. They have made many sacrifices so I could have the opportunity to be home-educated.
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A little interlude— my niece Haylie. Because who doesn’t want to look at photos of the most adorable little girl EVER?!
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Food, fellowship and FUN! I love these people so!
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Cristin, NOT from my college Bible study group. 😉 haha I met her at my previous church and we’ve stuck together! She’s a very faithful friend!

 

 

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I also met Mady at my previous church. Boy, is she a great mix between sarcastic and sweet!

An Old Post I Never Published– My Bad

Abby’s surprise birthday party— like TWO STINKIN’ YEARS ago!!! haha. Oops.

// A lot has changed since– Abby’s lopped off her golden locks, and I have emblazoned mine (yep– I’m a “ginger” now). Oh yeah, Phoebe also decided to go shorter with her curls. Never fear, I have NO intention of cutting mine.//

// I’m sure you’re bored with me droning on about our hair make-overs. I can’t help it. It’s just the natural fashionista in me. By the way– other things have changed since the post– a niece was born, I graduated highschool (a post on that later), illnesses, job transitions, a sis-in-law-to-be added to the family (unintentional rhyme there– guess I’m a natural poet too!), new church, etc. Anyway.//

// Enjoy the photos, now that you’ve scrolled past my commentary. ;P You know you did it, and now you’re smiling guiltily. Gotcha! It’s ok– you only missed out on my incredible sense of humor, which by the way, is grossly unappreciated by most. //

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Wow! Abby looks soooo youthful here! And Amy (the *natural* ginger) is now married and in a state far away.
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Look a-like chefs
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Ok, can we just talk about this guy for a sec? We can? Alright, thanks! He’s grown probably over a foot since this photo. Ca-raaaazzzzy!

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Sweet Caroline– who is getting married next month, actually.

 

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Caroline’s sister, Allison, has since changed her name– and resides DEEP in the heart of Texas. Sadly, I don’t think I’ve seen her since this party, except maybe once. 😦

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Allison (not Caroline’s-sister-Allison), behind the camera, is now married and has a little son.

 

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Yes– we’re crazy and race many of our guests as they drive away. You’ll have to ask me for the back-story on that sometime, but for now– cheerio!

A Post Of Thankful

So much has transpired since I last blogged. I guess you could say I’ve been busier living life than writing about it– which is exactly as it ought to be.

Among other things, nearly 8 months ago, I was incredibly blessed to become an auntie for the first time (hopefully first of many)!

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Haylie, my niece, with her Uncle Joel (my brother)

My dad has gone through some job transitions, but thank God, we haven’t had to go through the upheaval of moving again. That has been a blessing for sure! Of course, if we could move closer to our TX family, I’m sure none of us would complain. 😉 Especially now that we have a niece/granddaughter. hehe.

And lately, God has been showing me how much He answers prayers– even for “the little things”. It blows me away! We indeed have a GOOD, GOOD Father!!

That’s not to say He doesn’t allow us to go through hard times. Believe me, my life has been rather tough (not compared to some, perhaps)– especially the past year or so. I felt like I was being attacked time and again. –I lost a very, very dear friendship, went through a church split of sorts, dad’s joblessness, sickness, depression, etc. But you know what? I learned to ask God what lessons He was trying to get through my thick skull and then to begin to work on those areas with the help of the Holy Spirit. Boy, has He been working on me!

I asked for patience– I got sick for over a year. I asked for humility– my skin broke out. I asked for wisdom concerning our church situation– I was prompted to leave. God’s ways are truly above and unlike ours. But He has good motives. He can see our future and knows what is BEST! I heard a quote once recently that went something like this [paraphrase]:

“Just because we don’t succeed at something doesn’t mean God isn’t with us. It is entirely possible God is just preventing us from doing that which may harm us in the long run.”

Wow! True *that*! How often have I leaped ahead of God, only to find myself in a hedge of heartache and destruction?! More times than I care to count. And yet, He is faithful. The Good Shepherd comes to me again, lifts me up on His shoulder and carries me back to safety.

 

 

A Post of Randomness

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You know you have cool neighbors when they have an old Chevrolet parked on their grass…

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A colder weather outfit. Navy and white striped shirt with navy sweater and oatmeal colored pants. 🙂
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A dress refashion I did fairly recently. I have also done some minor alterations for a friend since then.
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This quote is too real for me lately… In way too many ways. Thank God, He mends broken things!!