This year #IWD's theme is challenge.This last year has been challenging but from challenge comes change. So let's all choose to challenge. Today we celebrate women's achievement by getting to know our Founder Nicole Hendelman Dersovitz.
International Women’s Day is a celebration of the societal, political, cultural, and economical accomplishments of women all around the world. It was first celebrated in 1911 in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, marking today as the 110th International Women’s Day! Together we can raise awareness against gender bias and take action for equality.
You all know Nicole as the face behind NicoleHD Jewelry, but did you know she had a whole design career as Nicole Hendelman for almost 11 years?! We thought it would be fun for you to get to know a little bit more about Nicole’s journey in the jewelry industry and how she got to where she is today. You’ll hear it from her that it takes a lot of grit and hard work and does not come without its fair share of challenges. Nicole wants to encourage all you rockstar women entrepreneurs out there to never give up on your dreams, just like she never did.
Q: When did you know you wanted to get in the jewelry business?
A: My mom’s side of the family are all involved in the jewelry industry in some shape or form, so I always grew up surrounded by jewelry since I was a young girl. I would go to my mom’s office and see the beautiful diamonds she was working with and knew it was what I wanted to do. By the time I was in high school, I started to help her sell pieces and discovered that I could actually make some of the jewelry myself. So I ended up starting a metal smithing class by my junior year and at that point I was hooked.
Q: You continued to study metal smithing at Syracuse University, right? What was that like and how did that drive your career even more?
A: Metal smithing is definitely a very unique major and not a typical one that most people do. It was actually really cool because it wasn’t just jewelry making, but we really dealt with all sorts of metals. I learned a lot about my abilities to be creative with not just jewelry, but other art forms like sculpting, drawing and working with textiles. It’s funny because at that time I wasn’t even thinking about my career much, I was just having so much fun in my classes and with my friends at school. Also, times were different than they are now because there was so much less pressure to decide what you want to do for a living or look seriously for internships or jobs. I really just had a passion for jewelry and the techniques came so easy to me that I figured it was the right path.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about your career beginnings and some of the challenges that came along with it?
A: When I started my design career as Nicole Hendelman it was so fun, but at the same it was scary and very hard. I was only 25 and although my family was very established in the business, I wanted to make it on my own. With so much competition in the jewelry industry, it can be very difficult to get your name recognized. I had to work extremely hard for that to happen.
Q: How did your first big breakthrough happen?
A: Every year Henri Bendel would have a “See-It Day” where a bunch of designers would stand on a line around Fifth Avenue in NYC to show their line to the store buyers. I went on a Friday in 1997 and was actually leaving that afternoon to visit my brother at school in Michigan, so I really wasn’t expecting anything major. I just thought I owed it to myself to give it a try. I was so excited when they chose to buy my designs to sell at their stores because it meant all of my hard work was paying off.
Q: Can you share some other fun things you experienced during your career as a designer?
A: One of the coolest parts for me, especially when my designs started getting more recognition, is that I was featured in about twelve different magazines and even had an article in the New York Times about me as the third generation of designers in my family. Then at one of my trunk shows, Kelly Ripa came up to me and bought nine pieces of my jewelry with her husband for Christmas gifts for their family! That was one of the most exciting things for me. After that I had a bunch of other celebrities like Denise Richards and Neve Campbell wear my jewelry on red carpets and other events which was so awesome to see.
Q: What made you decide to stop being a designer and start your business NicoleHD Jewelry where you buy and sell?
A: Once I became a mom I slowed down my career as a designer a lot more as it became too too hard to travel around the country with two babies. At that point I was only going into the city twice a week to do custom work, mainly with diamonds. I knew I wanted to continue in this industry, but had to adapt my career to being a mom. Especially after we moved to New Jersey, it was like closing up one chapter of my life and opening another. If you know me, you know I always trust my intuition and I just had a gut feeling that it was time to move on from being a designer. As my kids started getting older and more independent, I was able to test the waters of what I wanted to do next. I ended up going to Vegas with my mom to go to the JCK Show and realized that I wanted to start buying and selling jewelry. In the end, I’m so happy for trusting my gut because it has been the best decision for me.
Q: What would you say to any young women out there that have dreams of starting their own business?
A: Well, I definitely have been extremely lucky to have grown up with strong women surrounding me. With my mom in the industry, I was so inspired to be a powerful woman myself. So with that being said, I would say first off surround yourself with go-getter women who are going to push you to be a better you. Then I would say that confidence is key. I am a firm believer that when you release positive energy to the universe, the universe will listen and help you as much as you want it to. If you believe in yourself and the rockstar that you are, people will respect and admire you. It ultimately all starts with you because you have to put in the hard work to make your dreams come true. Lastly, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, because that is all a part of learning and growing.
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