What do you do when your passion is Disney and you have a knack for “do-it-yourself” projects? You create your own jewelry line, of course; and that is exactly what Kristi Nichols did. Founder of the hand-stamped charms collection KK&Whimsy, Nichols dedicates her life to the pursuit of beauty, fashion, and Disney.
An Arkansas native, Nichols frequented the Disney parks from Orlando to Anaheim with her family growing up. She says that her parents who planned these wonderful family vacations, shaped her passion for Disney: “Disney was a big family vacation spot for us. My parents made our trips to Disney World [and] Disneyland EPIC. That coupled with the fact that Disney is just bursting with magic anyways. It got me…at this point, Disney is just part of who I am.” Her love for Disney overflowed and even brought her to live in Orlando on two separate occasions in her life, just to be close to the parks; which she says “was heavenly.” Combining all of her family trips with the number of times she went to the parks while living in Orlando, Nichols says she has been to Disney “more time than [she] [can] count.”
Kristi and her husband.
This immense affection for all things magical prompted her to strike out on her own and venture into the world of entrepreneurship with some Disney inspired products. The name KK&Whimsy came about rather simply to Nichols, but that does not make it any less pretty or sweet: “I wish I had some sort of awesome epiphany story for how the name KK&Whimsy came to be, but realistically…my name is ‘Kristi Kay’ and I love whimsical stuff. Boom.” And “boom” is right, as this name is a perfect fit for Nichols’ jewelry line.
For Nichols, the decision to create charms came easily to her, as she has taken on “do-it-yourself” (DIY) projects her entire life: “I’ve ALWAYS been a DIYer. I love it! I’m also a crafting perfectionist. I get obsessed with exactly how distressing should look on furniture or how words on invitations should be arranged. I have always [had] (and probably always will [have]) an opinion on how creative things should look…so I usually just take on all crafty projects.” She says that her desire to work with jewelry bloomed over the past eight years, which eventually spurned her interest in hand-stamping pieces.
“Have Courage & Be Kind” Cinderella bangle.
Nichols has hand-stamped now for roughly three years, but says that it is no easy task. It entails “a lot of time investment in learning your stamps and an understanding that you’ll probably need glasses after looking at teenie tiny letters all day long.” Hand-stamping, at its core, is a very tedious process. The stamper must be meticulous in where the stamp will be placed, in this case, on the piece of jewelry, so that the desired look is achieved. Nichols says that the most difficult part is realizing when the piece she creates is perfect enough: “My biggest challenge is just time management. The perfectionist in me takes over at times and I cannot move forward until I create exactly what I envision. What can I say, I’m a work in progress.”
Working primarily with different metals (sterling silver, stainless steel, nickel, aluminum, etc.) her ornamental charms come to life. From the vey beginning to the end of its creation cycle, Nichols says it takes anywhere from three to four hours to complete a single piece of jewelry. Making her day-to-day business operations even more intensive, KK&Whimsy has no ready-made pieces in studio. All are made-to-order and Nichols even offers custom designs to those customers who are looking for something especially unique, which is something she especially loves: “I love [custom orders] and getting to creatively collaborate with others!”
“Tale as old as Time” Beauty and the Beast bangle.
Kristi Nichols embodies the values of an entrepreneur, right down to believing in her own product with everything that she has and promoting her brand as often as she can: “Every single day I stack four of our bangles[:] The ‘Kiss the Girl’, ‘Just keep Swimming’, ‘Adventure is out there’ and “Tale as old as Time” bangles.” She loves her jewelry just as much as she hopes her customers love it; she lives the KK&Whimsy way, every day.
Nichols expresses that her favorite Disney quote is “adventure is out there” from Up, “because adventure IS out there and I’m all about finding it!” As a strong businesswoman, Nichols offers to never forget the importance of pursuing your dreams and finding the adventure that is undoubtedly waiting for you. As a word of advice for those chasing that adventure she says to “block out the naysayers”, for your opinion is the only one that matters.
Kristi on Main Street U.S.A. in the Magic Kingdom.
We thank you, Kristi, for dreaming big and pursuing your passions as all inspiring Disney Princesses do.
For a look at some beautiful hand-stamped jewelry by the lovely Kristi Kay Nichols, head on over to https://www.etsy.com/shop/KKandWhimsy.