By Bethanie Hestermann
Like many of us, Jessica Nicols was Marie Kondo-ing her living space during the 2020 lockdown. While cleaning out her closet, Jessica stumbled across some jewelry she made in high school. She put her pieces up for sale, and they all sold! This was the start of Vogel & Plume—Jessica’s line of handmade jewelry made from polymer clay + fly-fishing feathers.
Vogel & Plume earrings are simple, yet stunning. Jessica often draws inspiration for her designs from nature (vogelmeans bird in German and Dutch), and her collections have names like The Starling, The Willow, and The Finch. Swoon. And don’t even get us started on her Flower Collection with all those gorgeous details!!
Learn more about Jessica + her creative process in today’s Q&A.
Tell us about Vogel & Plume!
Vogel & Plume is a handmade jewelry line using polymer clay and fly-fishing feathers.
How did you get started creating jewelry? How did it evolve into a business?
I started making feather earrings and hair clips when I was in high school, while spring cleaning in 2020 I found them again. I posted them on an app to sell and within a few days they all sold. After posting a few more rounds of feather earrings I thought it would be a good idea to open an Etsy Shop. I released my first collection on Etsy selling only feather earrings. Then a collection using both feathers and polymer clay, and then only polymer clay. I was never planning on starting a business just trying to clean out my closet.
Where does the name Vogel & Plume come from?
Vogel is the German and Dutch word for bird, and Plume meaning an arrangement of feathers. Since I was only planning on creating feather earrings at the time, I wanted to have a shop name that related to feathers and birds. All of our earring styles are also named after bird species.
What don’t people know about what goes into your products/running your business?
The amount of time everything takes. Everything is handmade by me and takes lots of time to create. Our Flower Collection that launched last fall featured cherry blossom earrings that took over eight hours to create.
What’s the best thing about what you create?
The best thing about what I create is getting to see the final product on our customers. Getting tagged in photos or getting messages about how much they love their new earrings is always wonderful.
What challenges you most about running a small business?
What challenges me the most about running a small business is marketing. With so many different platforms, it’s hard to figure out what will work best.
Do you have a favorite piece to create?
The Rainbow Studs and The Starlings.
What piece are you most proud of?
Definitely the Cherry Blossom Earrings! Each individual earring took over four hours to make. Every single petal was placed by hand.
Dream scenario: Where would you love to see your jewelry?
I would love to see my jewelry in an editorial for a magazine.
What’s your design process like?
I don’t have much of a process. I’ll start creating with whatever I have at the time. I will make a bunch of prototypes and then pick my favorites. That’s how I have planned out all my collections so far.
What advice do you have for other small businesses?
Do lots and lots of research. When I first started, I spent hours researching different techniques, shipping rates, supplies, and branding. Doing research beforehand can save you lots of time and money—especially on shipping costs!
What keeps you going on the hard days of creating?
If I’m having a hard day creating, or if I’m not happy with how something is turning out, I will take a break and come back to it later. Most of the time having a fresh perspective always does the trick.