Our story is just as unique as our products. We take great pride in our humble beginnings that took place in the basement of our founders' home back in 2014.
Nickel & Suede was born from a desire to fill a void in the jewelry industry with a simple, lightweight statement earring that women couldn’t find anywhere else. Earrings marked by quality, comfort and style to complement any look.
We’ve done just that… and more. Now, we can attribute our loyal customers to our timeless lightweight, statement pieces that have become a staple to so many wardrobes. Not only that, but we’ve created a community that empowers women to be bold in owning their unique style and look.
“Our Start” - https://youtu.be/6Yy0H_sMVp0
An Inside Look at Nickel & Suede
Get insights from our founder, Kilee Nickels, on how Nickel & Suede got its start, how far it has come, and where they hope it will be as they keep pursuing new opportunities for growth.
Where did the idea come from to start N&S?
When I made the first pair of teardrop leather earrings, I had no idea where that idea would take me. It was such a small DIY, but it ended up changing the course of so many lives.
The first pair of earrings came about because I wore silver metal teardrop earrings daily and couldn’t find a pair of gold earrings that were similar. I remembered a piece of gold leather that we had purchased for a previous Etsy shop, which had the same hammered look as my metal earrings. I cut out the leather into the teardrop earring shape and put hooks on them. They looked just as I imagined, but surprisingly, they felt so much better! I started wearing them, but I didn’t even consider them to be a product to sell until I started talking about them to my blog readers. I was excited to have discovered something so different, yet functional and intriguing.
Our first customers were our friends and my blog readers that were already buying things I recommended. Their response to these earrings was unlike anything else. They tried them out and were instantly hooked. It was amazing to see them recognize how different these earrings felt and made them feel. When they started telling me they never wanted to wear anything else and how good they felt wearing something so statement-making, it was definitely the push I needed to start branding and make Nickel & Suede “it’s own thing.”
I had just found a way to make big statement earrings comfortable, approachable, and even more versatile than my previous metal earrings. Plus, the possibilities of creating with leather are endless!
The discovery of this new idea is what inspired my husband Soren and I to go all in on N&S. I immediately began working on branding, and a few months later Soren quit his CPA job. We started working from our basement and set our sights on replacing his income.
How confident were you in the success?
From the beginning, I knew that our earrings were a homerun idea. They were so different than any other statement earrings out there – they looked different, but they were also functional in a new way. When my friends and family said they never wanted to wear any other earrings, I knew we had something special. But, Soren quitting his job definitely sealed the deal. He is one of the smartest guys I know, so when he recognizes something as a great idea, I know I can believe in it.
We were confident that there would be a demand for our product and that we could fill it. I think we were a little naïve at first, and probably still are, but I also know this type of confidence has allowed us to take risks and do the things that have helped us continue to succeed.
Who helped you get started and what did your team look like at the time?
At the beginning, we were fortunate enough to have friends and family that helped us in so many ways. We had good friends who helped us ship orders before we were even officially Nickel & Suede, and many who worked for free for months even after our company was formed on paper.
They made earrings, shipped earrings, worked open houses and more. Our first hire was about six months in, and within the first year we had hired 3-4 people mainly to help with making earrings. Since then, we’ve added many more employees, but I’m extremely thankful for the ones who really dug in and helped us from the very beginning.
The First N&S Store | 111 N. Water St. Liberty, MO
What was the first pair of earrings you made and or designed?
The first pair of leather teardrop earrings were called Metallic Gold, and they were in our classic teardrop shape. The leather was so beautiful because it looked like gold metal, and it had a leather texture, making it really unique. We made all of our first earrings in size large, but received feedback asking for other sizes, so within a few months we created both size small and medium. Having various sizes to choose from is another reason our earrings are unique. Not only that, but it’s been a great way to meet all of our customers’ needs and really make our earrings versatile.
We only made earrings in the teardrop shape for the first two years of Nickel & Suede, and since then, have added other styles. But, we’re proud that the teardrop shape is recognized as belonging to our brand. Brand recognition is everything!
How has N&S improved since then?
Nickel & Suede has come a long way since our basement days. In January of this year, we moved for the second time, but this time into a long term home. We are now headquartered out of 15,000 square feet of offices and production and it really does feel like home. We have the capacity to meet demands and fulfill future demands as well. Ever since we started N&S, we have been trying to keep up with order volumes and it feels so good to finally be a little bit ahead!
Other changes are that our team has grown. We have a staff of nearly 35 employees, and that is a far cry from just Soren and I staying up all night shipping orders. It’s incredible to have a team to help get all of the things done.
We’ve become more sure of our purpose as a company and how Nickel & Suede helps women, and we’re actively pursuing ways to make empowering and encouraging women to step out of their comfort zones a priority.
We still have a long way to go in all of the ways that we want to improve our product, our culture, our reach and our company as a whole, but it’s amazing to see how far things have come.
What are your goals for N&S in the future?
My goal for Nickel & Suede is to help our company mature into the full potential that it has. I am so proud of the way that our products help women change their own lives and I know that mission resonates with so many people.
I want to use our company to spread that inspiring message and to help our employees, our customers, and even those that aren’t yet our customers become their best selves.
Growing is the goal. We are working to grow by opening more retail stores, expanding wholesale partnerships and creating an ambassador program. I’d love to see those areas flourish and make Nickel & Suede even more of a household name.
More than a Product
Nickel & Suede is more than the products we sell. We’ve become a lifestyle brand that inspires, connects, and encourages women to find new ways to express their unique, individual styles.
We can’t get enough of what we do, why we do it, and who we do it for. And we’re just getting started! Our team is beyond excited for what’s ahead and we look forward to dreaming, crafting, and giving you more of our Nickel & Suede statement pieces you know and love.
Remember to follow us and tag us on Instagram with your favorite N&S statement pieces!