We had the good fortune of connecting with Nicole Sands and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Nicole, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
They say “the best businesses are built around passion.” And that’s exactly how what drove me to pour my whole heart and soul into something I had been really building up to my whole life. Crafting colorful Swarovski crystals bracelets was my idea of an after school “sport” in my younger years. That morphed turned into crystalized belt buckles (yes, belts!), and then my eagerness to create full-time led me to my first job at a local bead store, where I would spend afternoons making pieces for the store and repairing beadwork for customers. It was then that I learned the true art of jewelry making. People began to buy my pieces off my back and, naturally, I knew I had to start my own jewelry company, Stones Be Thrown. But life got the best of me, and my degree in Journalism took me on a wild ride through the world of entertainment editorial – a demanding job that unavoidably made me put my talent to the side. Creating was my form of “therapy.” It was gone and I felt off-track. Fast forward five years – I burnt myself out and my looking for a new creative route. What did I wear every day in my professional work attire? Belts! The same ones over and over. That’s when the idea popped into my head that seeing as I was never able to find any new belts that I liked, I would design and create them on my own – I give you, Coco Sands! Creativity is my form of expressiveness and I made a promise to myself to never let it go, ever again!

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My art is more of a form of expression for me. Yes, I do it to create beautiful pieces for others, but you will always find a piece of me and who I am in my work. I. love. timeless. fashion. And I love vintage fashion. Goodbye, fast fashion. Birthed through something I wanted to be able to wear every day, I strive to create enviable products that could hold their own through every season of “spring cleaning” amid the forever fluctuating fashion industry. Of course, there are challenges with starting your own brand in the fashion industry – an industry where amazing creative souls are pouring sweat and tears to get their brand off the ground and make a name for themselves. I feel like that’s a factor that will never go away (and a reason why people told me NOT to start my own line!). But I believe in what I am making and will continue to design my beautiful pieces. In fact, my signature Brook Belt buckle was inspired and designed by my career change – one side represents my career in jewelry making, coming to a “point” where I decided to choose to pursue a career using my college degree, and then making a turn a starting my own business where my heart truly lies – design.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
California is a magical place with so many incredible places to eat, see and be. Favorite places to kick back and relax: Little Beach House Malibu, Bel Air Hotel, Cielo Winery, and Stonehaus. Best places to eat: Taverna Tony, Felix, Great White, Shibuya (best sushi around!), and Decker Kitchen. One of my favorite things to do is venture out to Santa Barbara and spend the day in Montecito, where I love to walk around, shop, eat, and hit the beach.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My family – for always encouraging my creativity and supporting me wherever I decide to take it!

Website: https://shopcocosands.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/shopcocosands/

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.