Today we’d like to introduce you to Nicole Sugarman.
Nicole, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I was first introduced to jewelry by my grandmother. When I was a little girl, I would play in her jewelry box of magical treasures layering gold baubles over my tiny body. My grandmother, who was a very powerful and strong female figure in my life, gave me my first bracelet when I was seven years old. The bracelet was this beautiful delicate 18K gold adjustable cuff. It belonged to my mother when she was a child, and now my grandmother was passing this heirloom down to me. She gifted me jewelry throughout the years, but the most powerful and significant piece was when she gave me her diamond wedding band ten years ago. She pulled it off her ring finger and placed it on mine. There were five beautiful diamonds surrounded by more shimmering diamonds in a yellow gold band (I later changed the band to platinum). She told me to wear it and remember that she is always with me. I do not take it off of my right hand, and I get the most compliments on it. Her strong energy is with me today and forever. She reminded me “I can be anything I want to be” and this propelled me to take steps to create my own luxury jewelry line. I began creating my personalized jewelry line in 2006 which grew into my now namesake label Ora Nicole Jewelry. My first pieces were created out of rare gemstones and beads that I would string and wire wrap together in my Chicago studio. I created them with the intention that women would feel empowered by wearing unique, timeless colored gemstones that could be worn in several different ways. Having previously worked in a commercial real estate, clients would buy my pieces off of my neck, or they would ask me to custom make jewelry for them. Today, my luxury designs are cast in precious 14K metal (yellow, rose and white gold). Ora Nicole jewelry is an elite luxury brand accented with beautiful diamonds and faceted gemstones. Ora Nicole is contemporary, versatile and timeless jewelry with pieces designed to be layered and collected over time. My jewelry is about adornment and empowerment. When women dress to go out, they should feel confident and glamorous, accessorizing and layering Ora Nicole’s different geometric styles to achieve this effect. Today, more than ever, women are a dynamic part of the workforce, running companies, balancing family, friends, children and every aspect of life. The modern woman decides how she chooses to display herself to the world. Ora Nicole is multifaceted, strong and brilliant. These are all words that eloquently describe women. We are today’s superheroes that bring life into the world while running the world. Women do not wait to be gifted jewelry, rather they purchase special pieces of luxury jewelry for themselves. My curated styles appeal to women of all ages. Ora Nicole’s bold pieces can be worn with jeans and a tee shirt, in the boardroom or with that little black cocktail dress. I have an extensive sales and marketing background, having worked in the corporate sector for over 15 years managing commercial real estate assets for Fortune 100 companies. I have a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Child Psychology from the University of Minnesota. I donate my time to various organizations where I am a Board member for Lynn Sage Cancer Research Fund (LSCRF). I am also very active in supporting and raising funds for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund (JDRF) since my son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at age 8. It is very important to me that a portion of proceeds from my online sales go directly to support children’s and women’s charities. I reside in the northern suburbs of Chicago with my husband and two children.
Great, 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?
Being an entrepreneur and building a business from the ground up is never a “smooth road”. There are always challenges along the way. You think you are going in one direction and then you realize that maybe you could have done it better or been more efficient doing something another way. You are constantly needing to re-evaluate, re-direct, problem solve and make changes. Building a brand or business takes a lot of really hard work and is a constant challenge. You need to be open and flexible and willing to make compromises along the way. Everyone has an opinion on what you are doing and how you should do it. Sometimes, other people’s criticism or opinions are extremely valuable, but then there are also times when you need to block out the noise and follow your own instincts. My biggest challenge was finding the right companies to partner with in order to manufacture my jewelry line. You are trusting someone with your drawings, diamonds, gold, molds, cad drawings, among other things, which are particularity large investments. I also had to rely on manufacturing to be able to provide me with product in a timely fashion, as more orders were being processed. I knew that I could not carry an overload of inventory. E-commerce orders needed to be processed and shipped quickly to the consumer while maintaining the highest level of quality. Luckily, I was able to partner with a manufacturer that could provide all of these capabilities to me. It took me a lot of time and research to execute a process that functioned properly, but today I am extremely grateful that all my hard work has paid off.
Do you feel like our city is a good place for businesses like yours? If someone was just starting out, would you recommend them starting out here? If not, what can our city do to improve?
I think Chicago is one of the best places to start a business. Chicago is a big city but not as big as New York, so it makes it easier to navigate. There are so many resources available to entrepreneurs in Chicago. There are business networking events, conferences and launch parties happening all the time. You are able to position yourself to meet new people and grow your network accordingly. The energy of this city is intoxicating and is a great breeding ground for new ideas and business growth. Chicago is a place where entrepreneurs can make both a living and a life.
- Retail prices are from $500.00 – $5000.00
- Address: 121 West Wacker Drive
- Website: oranicole.com
- Phone: 312-505-0179
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @oranicolejewelry
- Facebook: Ora Nicole Jewelry