The Interview — Nicola Bathie McLaughlin, Founder of Nicola Bathie Designs and McLaughlin Interiors
Welcome to Talking Top 10, a recurring series in which we feature the founders, CEOs, creators, and leaders who are shaking up their industries. Ahead, read our Q&A with jewelry and interior designer Nicola Bathie McLaughlin and keep scrolling to shop her Top 10 must-haves.
Meet Nicola Bathie Mclaughlin—she was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, has lived in England and Michigan, and grew up in San Antonio, Texas. Nicola graduated from Texas Christian University in 2013, majoring in interior design. With a love for jewelry and the arts, an eye for design, and rooted with an entrepreneurial pursuit, Nicola developed the concept for her company. Nicola Bathie designs is a fusion of different style environments that allows her jewelry to fit an array of lifestyles. Her pieces are ever-evolving with the seasons and timeless at the same time, allowing every woman to feel as if her jewelry piece is a statement curated specifically for her. Follow Nicola on Instagram for more info, and be sure to check out Nicola Bathie Designs and McLaughlin Interiors.
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What led you to start Nicola Bathie Jewelry and McLaughlin Interiors:
I majored in interior design at TCU, and that’s always been my passion. The jewelry thing was a hobby—I wanted this necklace and couldn't find it anywhere, and the internet wasn't what it is now. I thought, "maybe I can make this." We were going to art stores for my interior design classes, and when I was in Fort Worth, one of the stores we went to taught me how to make it. It kind of just progressed from there. People would say, "wait, you made that? I want that!" It got to the point where I realized I could really make something. I created a website, and things took off from there. I feel like I never really made an executive decision to start a jewelry business—it just kind of built itself. But I was still very passionate about interior design. I worked for a firm in Dallas called Jenkins Interiors, and I continued to keep up with jewelry on the side. It became something that I couldn't really stop doing. I got engaged two years after living in Dallas, and that's when I started my own interior design business. I did that for a couple of years, but since I had my first child, I've put a hold on it because it’s really tough to take care of a baby with two full-time jobs. One day, I hope to get back into it. I always say that if there were a project that I couldn't say no to, I would take it, but the jewelry is kind of like a beast that I have to keep doing.
How do you balance running two businesses along with being a mom:
Balancing interior design and jewelry was super easy, especially when I was in Dallas. I would do a couple of things for the jewelry business in the morning before I went to work, then I’d work from 9 to 5 for Jenkins Interiors, and then I'd come home and finish everything for jewelry. But now, I’m never really off the clock for interior design because it’s my own business. That made things a little bit harder, but it was still doable. But then with a baby, I realized that you're really on their schedule, not your own. I felt like it wasn't fair to clients and that it wasn't great for my professional reputation to leave people hanging while I was taking care of my daughter. That's when I wrapped things up with interiors and told people that I wouldn't be taking on any new projects. I said it would be temporary, but it's still going on, especially now that I'm about to have another baby. But jewelry is so much more go-with-the-flow.
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What inspires your artistic process:
I would say I’m inspired by the same things for both. Interior design is a little more directive because you have a client telling you what they want, but jewelry is different because I'm making design decisions, and people can buy them if they want to. But anytime I'm starting a new project in either field, I pull inspiration from lots of things I like. For jewelry, it'll be different stones and beads, and for interiors, I'll look at new fabric samples. I play with colors and what I like, and sometimes they feed off of each other. For example, when I was doing both at the same time, I'd realize that two colors looked really pretty together, and then I would take that over to jewelry and design earrings with those colors. All in all, I think it's very color-based, and I love mixing textiles and materials. If I have a really smooth stone, I love to put it with a faceted stone, and the same goes for interiors—I like to mix patterns with solids.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career, and how did you overcome it:
The way we were taught how to handle business in school is nothing like it has been in real life. There was never any organization or thought process when it came to building my business—it's kind of nontraditional. So I would say my biggest challenge has been taking the things that fall into my lap and then figuring them out as I go.
Was there a moment when you truly felt like you made it:
No. But I think that not having everything figured out kind of keeps you on your toes and eager to do more.
How would you describe a typical workday:
My typical workday starts at 9. My housekeeper and nanny come over, and then I go meet the girls in the office, which is my backhouse. We work until noon, and then I put my daughter down for a nap. I go back to the office as soon as she's asleep, and she sleeps for two or three hours. After that, I'm kind of off duty, but if anyone needs me, I'm inside. It’s nice to have everything in close proximity. These days, I’m mostly overseeing things and designing. I don't necessarily do all the little mundane tasks anymore, which is nice because it frees up more time for me to actually design things. But every day is completely different.
What are your top tips for interior decorating:
Never be afraid to have something wowsy or do something a little bit over the top in one area, but keep it simple and neutral when it comes to your bigger and more expensive pieces.
I also love mixing pieces together and having one room that's not completely contemporary, because you never know what you'll be interested in 10 years from now. I think it's important to find a good mix. It's been really fun to see how our house has developed while we've lived here—where pieces have moved to and how everything flows together so well throughout the whole house.
I think art plays a huge role in everyone's home, as well. Having a piece of art that you completely love is so much more worth your while and so much more interesting than some crazy pillow that you'll tire of.
Lastly, I think the small details are very important. The little things are what make your space more of an art form versus something that just anyone can throw together.
What’s your go-to power outfit?
I would say a dress, heels, and fun accessories. That always makes me feel a lot more confident.
What’s your most recent beauty obsession:
Tata Harper. I love all of her stuff. The other one I've really started liking as I've been pregnant is Clé de Peau. Even more than what it looks like on my skin, I love the smell so much. I would say those are probably my top two. And when it comes to skincare, Dr. Barbara Sturm.
What’s next for Nicola Bathie Jewelry and McLaughlin Interiors:
For Nicola Bathie Jewelry, we have a really exciting collaboration we're doing. I can't reveal who it's with, but it's coming out in November. What's really exciting about it is that while I love designing everything by hand and the fact that a lot of my pieces are one-of-a-kind, these will be made in bulk and readily available for multiple people, whether that's 100 or more.
McLaughlin Interiors will make a comeback one day. Our next house will probably be the next project—we'll see.