Nichole Kirk is a local business owner with a story of love and triumph. Below is her story that she shared with us. —
I am a living testimony that God doesn’t call the equipped. He equips the called. I was that girl who didn’t wear jewelry or know how to do her makeup. I was in love with sports and nerdy books. If you would have told me I’d be the owner of a jewelry company in my 20s, I would have thought you were crazy. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, but I knew I wanted to help people in some way. I’ve always had this deep empathy for others, so deep that it makes my heart hurt when I see somebody with pain in their eyes, being judged for a mistake they’ve made. I literally put myself in their shoes and I want to take all their pain away. I always thought if I had the ability, I could change the world. Later I would discover that…I did! I did have something that could change their life, that could not only ease their pain, but also give them HOPE. I had something that could bring light into their darkness…bring joy into their sadness. And that thing, that wonderful, amazing thing… is Jesus.
Dear Heart began in March of 2013 when I was still working full time in property management. I spent late hours at night with coffee, dance parties and hammering letters into metal jewelry. I was bringing in a small amount of income that allowed my husband and I to go on an extra date here and there, but not close to enough to leave my full-time job. I began receiving messages from different people wanting me to put words on their jewelry, words that made my stomach drop a little, things to do with different gods or words I’d be embarrassed to stamp into metal. I was conflicted because we could really use the money.
I finally decided to say no. And in that moment, I decided my entire brand was going to be faith-based. I wasn’t going to let the world tell me what to design or influence me into doing things I wasn’t comfortable doing. I was determined to create something that was a beacon of light in this world of dark.
God breathed life into my story and confirmed I was on the right path May 6th, 2013. My friend was struggling to get the last of the funds needed for her mission trip. I thought the only way I could help was to make some jewelry that I had been dabbling in and have 100% of the proceeds going to her. My business was small, but my hope was big. My goal was to sell at least ten bracelets to help her pay for supplies and make a tiny dent in her mission goal. What happened next absolutely blew me away. My little business sold over $1,000 in bracelets! Guys – $1,197 to a newly graduated college student who maybe had $100 in the bank was a LOT of money. I honestly thought she had a lot of people who really loved her and wanted to support her by buying my bracelets. I couldn’t imagine any other reason.
The next day I drove to meet up with her to give her the check. Handing over such a large sum of money was such an amazing and terrifying experience, but I had this unexplainable peace and joy inside. I drove home with the biggest smile on my face. After I got home, my husband and I went on a walk to get some fresh air and reflect on what had just happened. We were discussing how crazy and amazing it was to be a part of such a blessing when my phone dinged. Back then, the website I was selling on would make this “cha-ching” sound and show you what amount you sold.
I looked down at my phone and couldn’t believe it. I had a single sale for $1,197 from a random woman in Florida with no connection to my friend or to me. What? Did they buy out my entire store? Well yes, basically. There was no denying it then guys. God’s hand was in this all the way. He was writing the beginning of the amazing adventure I was about to embark on. And ever since then, I’ve been stepping out in faith and listening so closely for His whispers.
As my jewelry evolved into delicate handmade pieces, my relationship with Jesus Christ developed into a deeper love and intimate fellowship. My intention behind Dear Heart was to open doors for meaningful conversation. Growing up, I always had a love for words. I knew I wanted my jewelry to incorporate words that evoked inspiration and emotion. I wanted women to put on my pieces and be able to share their story while creating opportunities to witness to others and to feel bold, brave and empowered.
Fast forward to 2016, I was sitting in a chair waiting my turn to pitch my business idea to a panel of five judges for IDEA WF. I had been preparing for this moment for a long time. I was sitting there, leg bouncing and my stomach in knots. A guy sitting beside me turned and said, “I am getting close to graduating and like to speak with entrepreneurs about how they got to where they are and what advice they have for me. So, tell me, how did you come up with your business idea?”
I knew the moment he asked, God was there. A feeling of calm washed over me, and I was no longer thinking about reciting my pitch perfectly in front of the judges or answering all of their questions with ease. I smiled to myself knowing He was comforting my spirit and giving me a new focus other than the one I was so anxious about. There I was about to witness to someone, my favorite thing to do. I only had about three minutes before they were going to call me in, so I looked him in the eye and grinned, “If you would have told me that I would be a jewelry designer while I was in college, I would have laughed at you.” I said to him. “Every bit of this business is God’s work, He is just using my hands. He has a plan for each of us, if we will just listen to Him.” “So, you think that it is all written?” he asked. “Yes, yes I do.” I replied as I got up, gathering my things. “My grandmother used to say that, that it was all written. Maybe it is time that I start finding that faith too.” He said. I nodded at him with a smile and waved goodbye, walking into a room surrounded by peace and calmness. (P.S…. I won!)
In 2017, I was looking to move Dear Heart out of our house. I wanted to be able to separate work from home and besides that- we had definitely outgrown my extra bedroom! I began looking in windows of empty buildings on the square in Henrietta. My husband coached here, and it would be nice to have something close to home. I found a real gem one day looking into one. It had cement floors and exposed brick walls. I was told don’t even bother with asking the man who owned it because he didn’t live in town and the buildings had sat vacant for so long. I was determined to make it happen. I finally got his number from a local company and called him. This kind and soft-hearted man named Don answered the phone. He immediately began to discourage me from the store. He said it didn’t have any electricity or air conditioning and would be very costly to renovate. He asked me if I had looked at the old Boot Barn next door? He offered to rent it to me for a very reasonable price. When my husband and I went to look at it, the awning was coming down in front of the building and everything inside was orange, but I saw my vision unfolding. I wasn’t sure how much he wanted, and I was fearful I wouldn’t be able to afford the rent and feed my family. I called him back and told him what I could afford. And I guess the rest they say is history.
You see, I’m not the brains behind this brand or what keeps it afloat. I am definitely a far second. God’s hand is woven throughout Dear Heart’s entire existence and it’s His vision that I chase and His approval that I seek. His words are written all over the wood under the paint in our store and His presence can be felt when you enter this space. People tell me all the time they feel Him here and that there is no denying it. He’s always nudging me to do uncomfortable things. Always whispering plans in my ear. And I listen because I know He’s got a reason behind every little thing, even if I can’t see it yet. When we built our Henrietta store, we invited people to come in and write prayers on the walls. I remember walking along them after everyone had left and getting goosebumps. I knew in that moment He was going to move within this place. And He has! We are so happy with our little home base in Henrietta that allows us to reach 1000s of customers from around the world via online and give back to the community in which we live.
In 2018, God gave me another crazy nudge to open a second retail location, this time in Wichita Falls, Texas. It terrified me. I fought with it for weeks- especially after seeing commercial rent prices and all the articles about how retail is dying. But he didn’t stop nudging. Wichita Falls didn’t need another store- they were right. But it DID need a place that was more than that. A place that gave back and brought people together. A place that when you walked in you would feel surrounded by peace and could have a cup of coffee and hang out at the community table. The products in it would just sustain it. So I did it. I signed the lease on a 3000 square foot space right off of Kemp Blvd and I am so amazed at our journey so far in just a month of being open. Our core products are of course those of Dear Heart jewelry and apparel, but we have curated brands around it that give back and are not found other places.
We created a free event called “He Calls Her Beautiful” and were amazed when 125 women showed up for it mid-September. It was an incredible night of community and self-love. We knew then we would need to have tickets for the next one in October just to control crowd numbers and we sold out of 100 tickets in 48 hours! We do a Flower Friday where we give away 10-15 free bouquets every Friday and all people have to do is tell us who it’s for and why (You can see the sweet posts all over our social media). I can’t wait to see what is next.
So now that you’ve heard a piece of my story, I want to ask something of you. When you feel that nudge on your heart to do something uncomfortable, or maybe even a little crazy, will you act on it? Will you let your guard down and step out and do the scary thing? Because sister, I can tell you right now, there isn’t anything too big or too scary for our God. He’s writing your story- just let Him take the lead.