Photographed by: Rachel Maucieri | Interview of: Nicole Cole of Vestige Home
How did you get started?
From a young age, I’ve always loved creating with my hands. When I was a little girl, I would spend whole weekends in my room crafting Christmas gifts for my friends and family, I sold things with my mom at craft shows, and even did some trades with adult business owners. I never really thought being creative as a profession was an option for me, though, so I went off to college through ROTC and joined the Navy. After my time in the Navy, I worked in several corporate jobs and started to get a creative itch that needed to be scratched. I began taking interior design and art courses during my off time, and this whole world started to open up to me. And then I just started. Next, I volunteered to teach some creative classes; volunteered to do decorate for a gala and wine tasting, which ended up landing me a full time job when we lived in California; and I kept being creative: bringing projects to life and sharing them with others, which slowly opportunities opened up.
The current body of work for our vestige HOME product line is a result of several years of trial and error, a smattering of short classes, and lots of research on my own. Last fall, I teamed up with my brother to expand the business and work together with our complementary skill sets. It’s funny because we both have had similar trajectories in our lives, coming from the military and then moving into entrepreneurship. Even though we are on separate coasts, we have been able to create a great line of pieces and learn a lot from each other. Several times a year we travel to each other’s studios to work together and do some local retail shows. I feel really lucky to have a sibling that I can share such an experience with.
What influences you? / where do you get your inspiration?
Everything and everywhere. Traveling, being out in nature, architecture, the texture of a stone found in the woods, I love an eclectic mix of design and objects, and this influences my work greatly. I have always enjoyed designing interiors and I like to think about what will make someone’s home more cozy, or their gatherings more beautiful.
Sometimes materials inspire me. If it is a wood piece, for example, I am inspired by the colors and grain patterns. I like to think about function as well, and how something can be used in the home and how it feels in your hands. Our serving boards are a great example of a functional piece that can also be hung on the wall or leaning against a cabinet as a piece of art when not in use. This is why I go to such great lengths to select wood that is more unusual to set our work apart, plus, I really, really love sifting through wood piles to find the special pieces.
Ultimately, I am trusting my intuition in the process. You know that little zip of delight that you feel inside you when you come across something really beautiful? That is what I look for when creating pieces and then I hope that someone else will feel the same way too.
How do you balance your personal time + work? / How do you create separation?
I am a planner by nature and so this has been a really difficult struggle for me. I used to think that if I just got organized, and I just got the right schedule down that I would somehow have “balance.” As the years have passed, I have discovered that the concept of balance is fleeting, perhaps found in particular moments, but as an overall scheme in life, I am not sure it exists. Everything in this world is in a constant state of movement. This is perhaps especially striking when you own your own business: opportunities may pop up, large orders come in, or projects you weren’t expecting come to you, but sometimes there are just crickets, and you’re scrambling to get some momentum going. For me, the best thing I can do is to try to go with the flow and live in the present as much as possible. I try my best to listen to my mind and my body, practice yoga, travel, cook, spend time with my husband and pups, or head out to the garden when I need a break. Sometimes this means that I don’t get something done for the business when I had hoped to, but it’s always there waiting for me and I usually can arrive back at it in a much better state of mind.
The practice of living in the present moment is the best way of creating separation between personal time and work because when I am completely in the moment of what I’m doing, my mind isn’t wandering to something else. I don’t always attain this feeling, but it is something that I practice even if just for a bit every day. Mostly, I feel like I don’t always have a distinct separation. I am working harder than I ever have to build my business and there is so much of me in the work that I’m doing and areas that I’d like to expand into that it’s always on my mind…the lines are very often blurred and overlapping and I’m ok with that right now.
What keeps you motivated?/ Why do you love doing this?
The opportunity to spend my days creating things and working autonomously keeps me motivated. I thrive on learning and being challenged and this is definitely the most challenging thing I have ever done by far, and I suspect it will be challenging for years to come. I love doing this because it’s a part of me.
Where do you see yourself in 2-5 years? / What’s next for your brand
I want to continue to design and produce beautiful and useful pieces for people’s homes with Luke and grow my knowledge and skills in woodworking and other materials. I’d love to be collaborating with other creative business owners on projects and supporting the handmade community.
I am currently in the process of updating my interior design portfolio and I’m really excited to get back into offering my design services as well. I’d also like to do more writing, it’s something I haven’t done before but have felt a pull towards it in the last couple years, so we’ll see where that goes :)