This March, The Rockwellist celebrates International Women’s Month with women who add flavor and depth to the Rockwell experience.
We ask these women 20 questions—some light, some dare to go deep—with the hope of getting to know and learning from these inspiring, successful, and stylish women who are out to rock the world.
In this installment of Women Who Rock, get to know Filipino-American jewelry designer Nicole Whisenhunt.
Too often, women are criticized for being too emotional and letting their feelings rule. Nicole Whisenhunt harnessed this so-called weakness, combined it with inspiration from art-deco and her travels, and quite literally turned it into something beautiful. As her brand narrative goes: “Whisenhunt aims to render particular emotions on gems and metal.”
“I want to create jewelry that reminds someone of what she felt when she was on her plane ride home or tasting wine at some far-flung vineyard,” she shares.
It’s these feelings and stories that make Whisenhunt Fine Jewelry all the more precious.
Q: What drove you to start your own business?
Nicole: A passion to create. I started making jewelry (accessories) back in college & my techniques continuously evolved as well as opportunities presented itself. Eventually progressing into fine jewelry seven years ago.
Turning a hobby into a business gave me the opportunity to immerse myself in this path. The business side makes my love for jewelry creating sustainable. They say “find something you love doing & you won’t work a day in your life”.
Q: As someone who is successful in your field, how have you made a positive change for others, particularly for women?
Nicole: When a woman wears something that makes her feel beautiful, it gives her a positive attitude towards life as well as confidence to tackle the day’s challenges. Not only does the jewelry we design make the wearer feel this way, but because often times jewelry is made to mark milestones, it’s also a constant reminder of an important event in their lives such as previous successes or symbols of love which they carry with them.
Q: What makes you a woman who rocks?
Nicole: I think of myself as someone who’s persistent and focused in my chosen career path. I also see myself as resilient. No one can avoid mistakes or difficulties, but as cliche as it sounds, these are truly learning curves. Focus on the lesson and try your best to make better choices in the future.
1. Who is your style icon?
Many! Victoria Beckham, Gemma Chan, Olsen twins, emmanuelle Alt, Lee Radziwill, & Natalie Vodanova.
2. What’s your signature look?
Separates in Neutral colors. I’m often in a skirt & top. Modern yet feminine styles. Outfits that can take me from day to evening.
3. What are 5 things you can’t live without?
My essential everyday jewelry from Whisenhunt Fine Jewelry.
An Iced Americano from Starbucks.
A black turtle neck, which I got from Comme Ci.
Nude lipstick from Nars.
4. What would you splurge on?
Diamond stud earrings.
5. What book are you reading at the moment?
Sapiens [A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari]
6. Dream scenario: If you could put up your own mini-mall and only have 2 shops, what would they be?
Emphasis Salon and Dean & Deluca
7. Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Definitely a morning person!
8. What does a day at the mall look like for you?
I often do my rounds between Whisenhunt, Comme Ci, and Cura V. I spend most of my time at Whisenhunt since I have an office there and my focus is jewelry design.
It’s become a habit to enter the mall and grab my morning coffee from Starbucks before heading to the shops. Since I spend hours in Rockwell I almost always have a meal or schedule a meeting at one of the local restos. My favorites include Grace Park, CDP, Wholesome Table, Dean & Deluca, and Rambla.
9. What’s your self-care routine?
Getting a massage once a week, a visit to the parlor weekly, & having a facial once a month.
10. What skincare/beauty secrets do you swear by?
Eye cream and moisturizer from La Mer, Anessa sunblock by Shiseido, and Estee Lauder night repair cream.
11. What activity/activities make/s you go, “Wow! Today rocked!”?
Nothing beats a productive day! Checking off my to-do list brings a weird satisfying sense of accomplishment! (Laughs)
12. If you could only eat one dish at one restaurant? What would it be and why?
Gosh. That’s hard! I love food & I love eating! My moods usually dictate what restaurant I will eat at. Good thing Rockwell has so many choices. But if I need to stick to only one dish at one restaurant then I would choose Grace Park’s buttered chicken or aligue pasta!
13. What’s your go-to drink?
I’m a coffee drinker! On my daily routine is an iced americano from Starbucks!
14. What words of wisdom do you live by?
So many! I’ll give you two:
“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones”
“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. “
15. Name 3 women who are part of your dream dinner guest list.
Gabrielle Chanel is someone I look up to. She’s a woman of great style. She never conformed to society. She defied convention, was ahead of her time, and is a great role model for independent women.
Then there’s Natalie Massenet, founder of Net-a-Porter. She brilliantly changed the way people shop in this day and age.
And also Barbara Hutton, who is one of the greatest jewelry collectors of the century.
16. Who is a woman in your life you admire the most? What have you learned from her?
My mother taught me so much. She ingrained in me that I should always work hard at my chosen career path. She also taught me to focus, to never be lazy, to keep setting goals, and depend on no one but yourself.
17. If there was one thing you could tell your 13 year old self, what would it be?
Just keep being YOU! Everything is gonna be just fine!
18. What is your greatest achievement?
Forming a great team team for Whisenhunt Fine Jewelry. My staff makes me proud. Our teamwork is an achievement, in my eyes.
19. What other dreams do you want to fulfill?
So many! I enjoy challenges. It gives me something to look forward to and work towards every day. I take things step by step. I set “small wins” as I move along. I try to not look too far ahead but focus on constant improvement. My dream is just to simply create more challenging pieces and maintain a good jewelry house for my clients.
20. What’s your idea of happiness?
Family, friends who are family, and peace.
Photos from @nicolewhisenhunt