You might think an acrylic chandelier can’t hold a candle (hah) to the “real” thing, but North Kingstown native, Nicole Ketchum, is here to prove you wrong (and inspire you to rethink your wedding decor) with her mesmerizing designs.
How did you get started? Did you have an interest in laser cutting and/or an art background?
Neither. I actually have an English background. I always feel like it’s the gateway to anything, really. *laughs* But a long time ago I was in corporate graphic design and it was incredibly boring. I left my job in 2008, like everyone else, and started a freelance company. Then, my husband lost his job and we decided to drive cross country and start over in Seattle. While there, I was interviewed for a company and they asked me to do a design project. It involved creating something for Halloween and I love Halloween so I took the assignment in stride. That’s where this idea came from. I had always wanted — because of living in apartments — a chandelier that I could easily hang without worrying about plugging it in. So i came up with the design for one. I didn’t get the job, but the idea stuck with me. I had been looking at foam core and cardboard at first and my husband, who is also a designer, said, “Why don’t you look into acrylic.” I said, “What is acrylic?” *laughs* And that started a journey. I spent two years researching it and we spent weekends designing two ideas which are what I’m currently selling on my website. In 2014 I founded Chandelier by NK, threw my website together, crossed my fingers and hoped that other people like me would find it interesting. Fast forward five years later and here we are!
And now you’re operating out of North Kingstown -— how did you end up in Little Rhody?
Well, I’m from Kingston, New York originally and my husband is from Massachusetts. Like I said, we lived on the west coast for five years but we have a child and flying back and forth to visit grandparents and such was a lot. When we decided to move back east we realized Rhode Island was a happy medium.
Tell me about the stunning look book featured on your website.
I worked really hard on that. One of my business mentors early on had told me that I should exchange products for photography. and I’m so glad I listened to them because it’s really built up the back end of my website, whereas before I had nothing. And I think that’s what attracted Disney eventually to want to work with me [Learn more about that collaboration here.] It was a lot of fun to put together the different shoots. I think it really shows off how versatile the chandeliers are. They can be used for any occasion.
Speaking of, why do you think your chandeliers are such a hit with engaged couples?
They really are perfect for weddings. Engaged couples, even engaged couples on a budget, can grab one or a few and can incorporate them throughout the wedding. You can throw one over a dessert table, overhead while your exchanging vows or over a sweetheart table to create a spark, a pop of color or just a focal point. You can hang them inside or outside; they can hang from just about any fixture or from a tree. And they can easily do it themselves if they’re not hiring anybody for the décor. Plus, I offer wholesale discounts to wedding industry professionals. So, if an engaged couple is working with a wedding planner, the planner can order in bulk and get a better price.
The craziest story I have is a woman who lived in Dubai but was getting married in Thailand at a resort. She bought about ten chandeliers, and the shipping actually cost more than the order! But she had the resort put them up all over for the wedding and it was beautiful.
But engaged couples also use them for other purposes, like bridal showers, bachelorette parties and rehearsal dinners. In fact, if you look through the look book, a local planner who spends her time between Massachusetts and Rhode Island used one for a shoot for a bridal party and it was really beautiful.
Which chandelier is your most popular?
I would say the white version because it is the most versatile. It’s neutral. The colored ones are great, but they’re usually for more fashion-forward or daring couples, or ones that have a very specific, colorful theme in mind.
But a lot of couples will also take advantage of ordering add on crystals. All of the chandeliers come with the plain, clear, high grade crystal, so the add ons are a way of offering more fun variations with different colors to match your tastes and/or theme.
And then, you might think that the octopus design would actually be used for kids’s parties more, but truth be told, it’s actually going to adults. [E/N: As an Ocean State native, I’m not too surprised — we sure do love our nautical weddings around these parts!]
Where can people buy your chandeliers?
They can shop directly from my website: chandelierbynk.com. Unfortunately, I personally can’t ship outside of the country, but non-U.S. residents can order from my larger vendors, like Wayfair or Amazon. But I will ship anywhere in the U.S. for a flat rate. Or, if it’s local, I can always work with you in Rhode Island and deliver them to you or meet you halfway.
Are you working on any new designs?
I have a heart design that I wouldn’t quite call a chandelier, but it’s basically two pieces that fit together to form a heart with a crystal in the middle [see first two pictures here]. It’s super fun and I previewed it about a year ago to gauge some interest and a lot of people bought them custom made. It’s something I really want to do, however, because I order my materials overseas, I’m only allowed a certain amount based on how much I can afford at the time. So once I sell through the batch I already have, I’ll hopefully be able to go ahead and order the materials for the heart. I’ll probably do a white version and then maybe a pink one. And then I have all kinds of other ideas, I’m just limited right now… But my goal is to eventually create more!