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.

For Such a Time As This

I– like many other young women– have struggled off and on with my self-worth. Especially recently.

It’s easy to feel that way. Friends not putting in much effort into being friends. Making slow progress in school. Failing at money-making endeavors. Struggling with a mysterious illness for over a year.

At certain points, I had trouble keeping my eyes fixed on the Author and Sustainer of all life. As though God wasn’t there for me.

At certain points, I felt lazy (I couldn’t do a lot of my chores because of my illness). As though my worth was in the things I accomplished.

At certain points, I was ashamed– I hated the way I looked, acted, and felt. As though my family loved me less because of those things.

At certain points, I felt depressed. As though my life wasn’t worth living anymore.

Several times, I was to the point of breaking. In His mercy, God prevented me from doing anything rash.

He prevented me by sending me encouraging friends. By showing me that ultimately academics are nothing in light of eternity. By reminding me that He will provide for all of my needs. By giving me patience (by way of the Holy Spirit) through my illness.

God showed me that I was walking through this fire so He could refine me– could mold me more into His image (2 Corinthians 3:18; 1 Peter 1:6,7). He showed me that I didn’t really believe He loves me and that I have to daily choose to believe that He does.

I was assured that not only God loves me, but my family does too. They don’t find me burdensome.

God called me beautiful when He fearfully and wonderfully made me (Psalm 139:14). And even though that beauty was tainted by sin’s curse, He has re-beautified me by the death of His Son (Psalms 149:4). I’m no longer a slave, I’m His daughter! (Galatians 4:7)

And just like Esther in the Bible, I know God has placed me on this earth “for such a time as this…” Already, God has used this trial to draw me closer to Him, and to use it as an encouragement for others who struggle.

So be encouraged! Keep your eyes on God– He began a good work in you and He won’t give up on you! (Philippians 1:6) He can use your “such a time as this” as a spring-board to draw others close to Him. Daily choose to believe He loves you!!! He has proven it so many times, and ultimately by giving up His only Son on the cross!!!