FAR-FLUNG ADVENTURES and an affinity for whimsy inspired Nicole Parker King’s creation of a line of jewelry with a travel theme.
She’s visited more than 50 countries, and like many a peripatetic traveler, is always searching for a treasure to remind her of a favorite destination.
“I was looking for something small, chic, collectible and wearable that would remind me of my most special memories on my travels,” she says. “You can sometimes find charms in different locations, but there was nothing that covered all of the places I’d been, so I had to create it.”
She launched her wanderlust-inspired Jet Set Candy jewelry collection in 2014 featuring luggage-tag charms and charms depicting airplanes, mermaids, seashells, in silver, gold-plated and 14K gold. The jewelry was sold on her own website and in boutiques and gift shops across the U.S. The packaging is bright and plush. The whole collection is presented in a passport-style book with photos and pricing.
“We really did pretty awesomely from the get-go,” she says. But something was missing.
“I don’t think it’s possible to build a true brand just living online, digital only,” she says. “People need to experience the physicality of a space for a brand to exist and for people to care about it. We’ve done a lot of pop-ups in the past but hated the transient nature of only having the pop-ups.”
In July, she opened a 316-square-foot store in New York’s Grand Central Terminal, and for the first time was able to fine-tune visual merchandising to reflect the brand’s playfulness.
There’s a lot going on in the small space, including perfect Instagram opportunities: A 6-foot-tall hot pink Statue of Liberty, and a closet transformed into a travel shrine with a floor-to-ceiling, travel-inspired collage.
There’s a mint-green ceiling, travel quotes on the walls and a custom-designed backlit cash wrap highlighting a map of the world. The store also features an engraving machine on site for personalization. Consumers shop by continental regions, creating a unique flow to the experience. The overall theme of “The World” is juxtaposed with “New York City.”
A central island is dedicated to all things New York as well as rings with travel-themed slogans and necklaces spelling out “wanderlust.”
“People have seemed delighted to stumble upon it, and long-time customers are excited we have a permanent home for the brand,” King says. “I think there is always going to be a place, especially for jewelry, to see the product up close and try it on. No place is better than Grand Central for our audience, which is a good mix of tourists and New Yorkers.”
Nicole Parker King
King, a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, studied graphic design and has career experience in branding. She lived with her husband, a diplomat, in India, where she learned about jewelry from artisans. Her jewelry designs are heavy with graphics and she does all the technical drawings.
Although Jet Set Candy is her first foray into jewelry, she’s loved it all of her life. “I had my own charm bracelet when I was a kid, a sterling bracelet from James Avery.
“My favorite type of jewelry is whimsical quirky pieces that tell stories and have the smile factor.”
The long-term plan is to open additional stores in airports. But short-term, she’d like to try pop-ups to test target destinations including Los Angeles, London and Las Vegas.