Our dedicated series, Booked x Busy, is all about shining a light on the entrepreneurs and brands that embody Black excellence.
Making a statement is everything and TAYLOR NIKOLE is making some of the loudest. With her bold and colorful earring designs, NIKOLE's eponymous accessories line consists of one-of-one, handmade pieces that are essentially wearable works of art.
From feminine to more gender neutral pieces, NIKOLE's earrings have been worn by Hollywood favorites including Zendaya, Letoya Luckett and Tabitha Brown. A fashion model and visual artist, NIKOLE proudly names many of her pieces after iconic Black women. With names like "Naomi," "Iman" and "Ava," her earrings pay homage to the greats and find intersections between fashion, culture and art.
PAPER sat down with TAYLOR NIKOLE to talk about how her southern roots inspire her big city hustle and what it means to create earrings that empower, inspire and remind us that we're all art.
What was your earliest exposure to art and fashion?
Growing up my mom was a fashion designer, so I got a lot of my fashion influences from her.
Your earrings are made by hand. What's your creative process?
I look at shapes, colors, architecture and paintings to spark my inspiration. Then I start sketching out ideas and map out how I can turn them into an earring. From there, I just experiment with clay until I'm happy with the design.
Your pieces always make a statement. What should someone feel when they put on your earrings?
They feel like art! That is the goal to make each person feel one-of-a-kind. When they wear a piece, I see that my customers feel confident and beautiful.
What does it mean to be a Black-owned business, especially when the Black Lives Matter movement is getting so much attention?
It means so much to be a Black woman and lead a Black-owned business. More than anything, it lets me inspire others to keep going and chase their dreams. I feel so empowered and responsible to uplift my people.
A lot of your earrings are named after iconic Black women. Who might be next in line to have a piece named after them and why?
I think the next earring will be named "Saint," inspired by Solange because she is my idol. Everything she does is so powerful to me and unique, and I want to honor that.
What from Black culture do you draw inspiration from for your designs?
The culture of Black music and visuals. The way we carry ourselves and set trends gives me inspiration to stand out.
Who in fashion would you consider to be your spirit animal and why?
Tyler, the Creator because he truly does what he wants. He doesn't worry about others' opinions and stands by his work.
Many celebrities have proudly rocked your pieces. Who else would you love to see rocking your earrings?
Beyoncé, Erykah Badu, Solange, the list can go on. Ideally, I want strong Black female idols rocking my pieces.
Besides yours, what other Black-owned accessory brands are you feeling?
I love Lisa Willis of the Black-owned earring line, Small Talk. She is such a hard worker and very creative.
What lessons have you learned as a model that you've been able to apply as a businesswoman?
Being professional and consistent helps me so much with owning my business. Modeling has allowed me to feel confident as a business founder and in everything that I do.
If you could share one piece of advice to creatives or designers, what would that be?
Never give up. Chase your dreams no matter what others say. Trust your gut and your vision.
What are some fashion tips that you can share when it comes to rocking earrings?
Let the earrings make the statement for you. Experiment with different looks and colors. Most importantly, don't be afraid to express yourself.
Where do you see TAYLOR NIKOLE in the next five years?
I see myself having a bigger platform. I see more celebrities wearing my pieces and to continue to share my art around the world.
Fill in the blank: My Black is...
My Black is ART.
Thanks to you, our earlobes are more fashionable than ever. What's next for TAYLOR NIKOLE?
What's next is continuing to push boundaries with art and fashion with my line.