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How I Got Started

Updated: Jun 9, 2022

Inspiration that started my food inspired accessories line - XOXO By Nikki Von

Hi, my name is Nikki and I am a mixed media artist. I use all types of different things to create art, like clay, foam, paint, leather, glass, Etc. You name it, I have probably used it! This particular blog entry is about how I became an artist and how XOXO By Nikki Von got its start. I have been doing art for about 20 years, and I got my start in middle school. That’s right you read that correctly, middle school… So, I’d like to tell you a little bit about how my love of art, and my now business of designing and making handmade purses, came about!

I can remember it like it was yesterday. However, it was not, it was December 2000, and I was in 7th grade. It was about to be Christmas, which meant it should have been cold and filled with warm sweaters, evergreens, and pumpkin spiced lattes, but when you are a native Floridian, your Christmas is blazing hot and filled with bathing suits, palm trees and lemonade. This year my life and my love of art was all about to change. My art teacher asked us all to make our version of a Christmas card to be entered into a contest. The first, second, and third place winners won a savings bond for some small amount like first won $100, second won $75, Third won $25, and this was the coolest part (at least to me anyway) the winners’ drawings were to be printed and sold at local stores around the area for Christmas!

I had always had a knack and love for all things art, but this year something clicked. As all the students from each of my teacher’s art class created their pieces, I was struggling. As many of you can probably relate, I had a fear of failing. What if I entered and I didn’t win? What if I couldn’t think of anything at all?? I was overthinking and underperforming. When my teacher came by, she saw that I had nothing on my paper. It had been about 10 minutes since the project had started and I hadn’t even scribbled down an idea. She looked at me then my paper then back at me and said “Nikki, think outside of the box. What if the Christmas tree wasn’t a Christmas tree at all?” I sat there, in awe thinking to myself, as creative as my imagination was, why didn’t I think of that? Sometimes we need a bit of inspiration to create master pieces.

Well, any ways fast forward to the announcement of the winners, and with over 150 kids competing and some of them were true art geniuses, I would have never guessed my name would have been called. As they announced the winners over the intercom, I can only remember the first and second place winners, me and a good friend and classmate of mine. Xiao Xiao L. had won first place and I remember her drawing, as if it was my own. She used gel pens and created palm trees with strings of lights in them, very colorful fun and VERY FLORIDIAN! When they announced my name as second place, I almost didn’t believe it. I had won?? I was stunned! I almost didn’t even enter the drawing before my teacher came to me, and now I had won!? Xiao Xiao and I hugged and the whole class clapped. The other winner was from another class, and like I said I can’t remember who it was.

Well, another few weeks later our teacher handed us an envelope. The contents were our savings bonds and the printed card of our artwork. There it was my art! I used construction paper to cut a bunch of lemon shapes that I placed in a tree formation and added in some red sprigs of berries on a green background, red and green, it was Christmas after all. I was in awe of how beautiful the prints were. My “Lemon Tree Christmas” was really going to be sold in stores for Christmas. I was so proud. However, we did not get any of the proceeds, I think the proceeds were for a charity group to help kids… Don’t quote me on that though. Shortly after receiving my envelope, I very quickly lost it… I am sad to say I have no evidence but my own memory.

But, like I said this blog is all about how I became the purse and accessories designer that I am today, and so the story continues. From my spark at 12 years old, I then continued to pursue art in every grade, where in those times I had won a few ribbons for my work with paint, paper, and canvas, all the way up to senior year in high school where I took a clay class. Fast forward to the year 2020, where the pandemic has kept many people at home, so thus the application TikTok was born... I had seen several artists posting some cool stuff from paintings to handmade accessories and thought “I wish I was back into doing art again.” And then, I saw an artist that was making food accessories out of various items, and I literally could not stop thinking about it. That artist was RommyDeBommy. She is a superb artist and very creative! It would be so rude of me to not give credit due where credit is due! I mean for literal months, I obsessed over the idea of creating my own pancake purse inspired by hers. She gave away no secrets, and of course why would she? So, I started to research to find the right products to use. to create this super lightweight, hyper realistic, pancake stack. After a few failed attempts, or as some call them learning opportunities, I had created my first pancake purse!

Now this was all just a hobby at this point. I had no intentions of ever selling this purse (which I did not, since it was too close to her design) or anything like it for that matter. I had a corporate job with a medical company and no time to make art for selling. BUT, never say never, right? Because, when I would go out, people would literally stop me from across the way to ask me where I had gotten my purse. I was taken aback… When I told them I had made it, they asked where I was selling them. “Oh no! I don’t sell them, sorry.” I exclaimed. And they would always say “Well you should! I would definitely buy one.” So, I created a few things of my own idea and design, and people bought them! Thus, XOXO By Nikki was born. Now I sell unique handmade purses and accessories. I have a sugar cookie purse, a pumpkin pie purse, southern breakfast purse, and more! Its fun to create artwork that is functional and fashionable.

Inspiration can come from anywhere or even under the most stressful circumstances. But never let the fear of someone putting your work down, or calling you a copycat, keep you from creating. I was shamed a lot by several people on social because I was making food inspired accessories, like RDB. It didn’t stop me. One of my all-time favorite quotes is from Pablo Picasso, he once said, “Bad artists copy. Good artists steal.” I have always told people that RDB was my inspiration for my idea, and I always will. I make my own designs, my own ideas, and I had to figure out the process for myself. So, I can be proud of where I am in my business and continue to design and create fun, food inspired accessories and purses!

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