From Michigan to Shanghai to California, Nicole Fonseca has left her mark wherever she goes with a splash of color! Fashion has always had a piece of Nicole's heart and it wasn't until years into her career in automotive design that she realized she could make her passion a reality!
Check out our most recent Solopreneur Q&A with the ever so vibrant jewelry designer, Nicole Fonseca.
What was the first person/place/thing that inspired you to pursue your jewelry line?
I am fortunate to come from a very creative family. My mother, aunts and sisters all influence me and I draw from these artistic roots to imagine and create. I have no doubt when I told my parents I was going to Central Michigan University for a major in Fashion Design they wondered, “What is she going to do with that?”
Make-up by kristen fonseca
Fast forward 5 few years, I was living in Shanghai, China working as a Color and Materials Designer for one of the largest automotive leather suppliers. At that time I was designing leather collections for some of the most luxurious cars around the world. It was a true mix of my passion for color, leather and fashion along with my automotive background that inspired the “Up All Night” collection. Moving to China allowed me the financial ability to start my own company. Essentially I sketched my first jewelry line in a single night. The collection had always been in me. I just needed to get it on paper and then it came to life. It took a little over a year, countless hours and late nights after my day job to go from an image to a beautiful piece of jewelry.
Who are some of your favorite fashion icons and why?
I love the way Blake Lively dresses! Can an icon be younger then me?! I just love her sense of sophistication and classic beauty. I also really admire Gwen Stefani. She owns her bold style and in my opinion a super forward thinking fashion designer.
How would you describe your jewelry line? How do you want women to feel when wearing your jewelry?
I create my jewelry to make women feel confident, sexy and colorful because they themselves are truly unique! Each bold piece of Nicole Fonseca Jewelry is hand wrapped in soft genuine leather and accented with 18k gold. Inspired by a true love of color, leather and fashion, the collection was created.
Photography: Kevin Stalker
Some girls realize their passions, but don’t know where or how to “follow their dreams”. What are some first steps would you recommend for them?
Believe! The women in my family have a motto: She can because she believes she can. I live by this. If you have any doubts just believe your dreams are achievable, so dream big. I recently found myself very distracted going through some difficult things in my personal life. It took that pain and chapter ending for me to see I believe in myself and my jewelry line even more. If I wouldn’t have gone through these low moments I would not have the fire or passion I have to succeed today. Surround yourself with great people that will support you and your dreams. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice or guidance.
If you could offer a tip to help boost self-confidence to all those young women out there - what would it be?
Make your passion what you do! When you are passionate and confident about your work it shows. Be confident in yourself and be someone people like to work with. I know I can be hard on people and I’m a perfectionist at times but I want others to walk away thinking, “I’d love to work with her again.”
What is the biggest struggle being a female entrepreneur?
Breaking down our own internal doubts. Its hard putting yourself out there, dedicating yourself to something you believe in so deeply can be scary. Reach out and leverage other successful women. I remember when I graduated college I was really as a loss as to what career path to follow. I reached out to an college alumni and she was the person who introduced me to Automotive Color and Materials Design. Women supporting other women is our greatest and most powerful strength.
What have you learned about yourself since becoming a female entrepreneur?
I’ve learned so much about myself during my journey of launching my jewelry collection. I learned hard work does pay off and connect with as many people as you can. It’s really all about hard work and networking with the right people that will help you succeed. I realized there will always be haters and people who will try and talk you down. Don’t let anyone distract you or try to tell you that you can’t do something. It may take time but you absolutely can do whatever you set your mind to.
We know it's not always rainbows and butterflies down the entrepreneurial path. What are some sacrifices you've had to make in order to make your jewelry line happen?
Wow, yes there are sacrifices! I made some very difficult decisions early on to financially support my jewelry like relocating to Shanghai and sacrificing time with family and friends. I’m not suggesting everyone should move abroad to make their dream come to life but understand the commitment needed and sacrifices that will be made. I’m a mother to a 4-year-old little boy named Maxx and he’s been such an inspiration in my life. It has certainly been difficult managing being a mother, work and launching my collection. But at the end of the day all the stress, pain and sacrifices are worth it. I made the decision to embark on this endeavor and I was not quitting. You have only one life to live; I decided I was going to paint a beautiful picture…with lots of bold colors.
What makes you feel strong and beautiful?
Confidence. I think every woman’s secret weapon is confidence. And the perfect red lipstick!
What has been your most memorable experience thus far since starting your business?
My most favorite memories I have while launching my jewelry involves my two sisters. The first was when my sister Jenae and I went to New York City for the Henri Bendel “Open See”. New designers showcase their designs to buyers in hopes of landing a trunk show at their flagship store on 5th Avenue. I didn’t even have all my jewelry out of the box and buyer reached in and grabbed all the bracelets screaming, “Yes! I love them!” after the meeting Jenae and I made our way to the ladies room and had a little dance party in the handicap stall. I premiered the line in NYC a month later at my first trunk show. It was a fabulous opportunity and great success.
The second is working with my other sister and brother in-law. All three of us are very creative people and the blend of our creativity and vision is powerful. One day we packed up my nephews in the car and set off into LA for a fun lifestyle photo-shoot. It was a great calibration and we walked away with some amazing images and video. Our casual day ended up with our best output.
How do you keep motivated during hard times?
If I’m facing a difficult time I try to refocus my energy to my passions. I allow myself to feel whatever emotion comes but don’t allow it to be my focal point for long. Use the difficult times to really persevere, show everyone and yourself you can manage any strenuous situation or discouraging time. I listen to music, do something artistic like a painting class or even take a hike to enjoy the beautiful scenery. Recently I called off my engagement which was a very tough time for me. I used all that heartache, pain and disappointment to refocus my energy into what I love, which is to create. To be honest, this is how I named my new “Rise Up” collection, giving me the strength to design the line. Using all that rawness and emotion allowed me to open up and push myself creatively.
How do you maintain a healthy, balanced life while growing your booming business?
Sleep, I make sure I get at least seven hours of sleep a night to keep focused. I work my full time job at Nissan Design America and then work into the night on my jewelry collection. This is where the “Up All Night” name came from. I was working all day and staying up all night trying to launch the line. I eat extremely healthy and make sure to start the day with a balanced breakfast.
I also make sure to make time for my family and friends and remember to count my blessings. When the road gets tough it’s rather easy to lose sight of all the wonderful things I do have in my life. I try to make a conscious effort to regroup and to remember all the blessings I have in front of me.
What are you looking forward to the most this year?
I’m working hard on my new jewelry line coming soon called “Rise Up”. I feel my next collection is really an evolution for me as a designer and embraces my background. “Rise Up” will feature an entire new collection of leather in 10 unique colors and 6 new styles. The pieces are more interchangeable this time around to allow even more fun with all the trendy colors. I’ve expanded my line to include necklaces and more earring shapes that I feel every woman could wear.
When you hear the phrase, 'She Only Lives Once' - what comes to mind?
To live it with absolutely no regrets and define it the way you want to.
Favorite quote? Don’t give up great things take time.
Favorite female entrepreneur(s)? Oprah, Sara Blakely and Bethenny Frankel.
Favorite book? Honestly I don’t read much, but I blew through all three Fifty Shades of Gray books - ha!
Favorite resource(s) for inspiration? Art and Fashion.
Favorite jewelry line? Nicole Fonseca of course ;)
UP ALL NIGHT A Nicole Fonseca Collection- Vibrant colors for "look at me" pieces are what the Up All Night collection is all about. Each bold piece is hand wrapped in genuine leather and accented with 18k gold. Inspired by a true love of color and leather.