Nicole McLaughlin Turned Trash Into Treasure

Graphic designer by day and conceptual artist by night, she details the inspiration behind her cult Instagram following.

listen
Nicole McLaughlin Turned Trash Into Treasure
Business of HYPE
15,447 Hypes 3 Comments

Business of HYPE is a weekly series brought to you by HYPEBEAST Radio and hosted by jeffstaple. It’s a show about creatives, brand-builders, entrepreneurs and the realities behind the dreams they’ve built. On this week’s episode, jeffstaple sits down with graphic designer by day and conceptual artist by night, Nicole McLaughlin.

If you’re unfamiliar with her name, you have most likely come across her Instagram account. From slippers made out of Ikea bags, to sweaters made from Carhartt beanies, Nicole’s side hobby of upcycling materials into fashion-forward garments have earned her a cult following on social media.

The New Jersey native attended East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania where she initially entered as a speech language pathology major but graduated in digital media technology. With no apparel design skills and a limited art portfolio, Nicole landed a year apprenticeship with Reebok, where she worked on the Vetements x Reebok collaboration and was eventually hired as a full-time graphic designer for Reebok Classics.

When an opportunity with adidas’s Brooklyn Creator Farm arose, she showcased her early work —an account with no following or press and just a slipper made of adidas sweatbands — to Mark Dolce, VP and Creative Director of adidas. She specialized in footwear design and polished her creative eye while there. Three months later, she returned to her usual 9-5 at Reebok whilst continuing her dumpster dive through Reebok’s old headquarters to find unusable samples to continue her side hustle.

Many viral posts and 140k followers later, Nicole admits that while she’s not the first to think of these conceptual ideas, she’s had to reconcile with the people stealing her work by staying confident in her ability to always create something new. She’s aware of the potential profit to be made, but refuses to mass produce anything for a “fast check” in preference of having authority over her ideas.

“The comments are like, ‘Oh, you could be making so much money. Why don’t you sell this?’ I like having that authority. You don’t have to own everything. You don’t have to buy every single thing that you see.”

With the onset of opportunity and attention, Nicole tells us she’s currently leaning towards the art route—showcasing some work in a gallery. Most recently, she quit her job at Reebok to move to New York and focus on freelancing. 

As always, thank you for tuning into HYPEBEAST Radio and Business of HYPE. You can subscribe to our channel on AppleSpotifySoundcloudStitcherOvercastAnchor or wherever else you get your podcasts. Please don’t forget to leave a comment or review.

Additionally, feel free to hit Jeff on Twitter, @jeffstaple, or via email at questions@businessofhype.com, and he may answer your question on a future episode.

This episode features references to the following:

2:21 – Reebok
3:13 – Career path
7:33 – East Stroudsburg University
8:51 – Switching majors
11:12 – Applying to Reebok
13:20 – DC, Osiris, Etnies, Converse
14:20 – L.L. Bean, Columbia, The North Face
15:08 – Reebok apprenticeship
19:28 – Vetement x Reebok collaboration
22:34 – Hired at Reebok
25:10 – adidas Brooklyn Farm
26:33 – Nicole’s work
29:57 – Dover Street Market T-shirt
33:01 – Ikea sandal
33:53 – Sourcing products for her ideas
39:44 – Watts.on
54:21 – Work/life balance
57:19 – Plans for future
1:03:32 – Thought process on IG posts

Read Full Article

What to Listen to Next

For Comedian Hasan Minhaj, Achieving Authenticity and Singularity Is Always the Goal
Business of HYPE

For Comedian Hasan Minhaj, Achieving Authenticity and Singularity Is Always the Goal

Presented by Cole Haan
How combining momentum with hard work yields opportunity.

Olivier Rousteing Believes Today’s Revolution Will Bring a Brighter Future
Business of HYPE

Olivier Rousteing Believes Today’s Revolution Will Bring a Brighter Future

The French designer reflects on nearly a decade at Balmain and how his perspective has changed during these pressing times.

FaZe Nikan and Daryl Butler Believe Everyone Is a Gamer, Even If People Don’t Know It Yet
Business of HYPE

FaZe Nikan and Daryl Butler Believe Everyone Is a Gamer, Even If People Don’t Know It Yet

Nikan Nadim of FaZe Clan and HP’s Head of Marketing, Daryl Butler discuss gaming’s cultural impact and even playing field at OMEN’s live panel discussion.


atmos' Hommyo Hidefumi Wants You to Embrace Your Inner "Crazy"
Business of HYPE

atmos' Hommyo Hidefumi Wants You to Embrace Your Inner "Crazy"

atmos’s founder details the importance of a strong human connection behind a profitable retail experience.

John C Jay Isn't Done Learning About Global Businesses

John C Jay Isn't Done Learning About Global Businesses

In Part 2, the Global Creative of Uniqlo tells us, “experimenting in your life is the most valuable thing you can do.”

Listen
7,464 Hypes 1 Comments

For John C Jay There Is No Such Thing as an Excuse

For John C Jay There Is No Such Thing as an Excuse

From Executive Creative Director at Wieden+Kennedy to President of Global Creative at Fast Retailing and Uniqlo.

Listen
15,313 Hypes 9 Comments

E-40 and OMB Peezy Recognize the Importance of Mentorship Within Hip-Hop

E-40 and OMB Peezy Recognize the Importance of Mentorship Within Hip-Hop

The young rapper and his mentor detail on joining forces, taking pride in black-owned businesses and much more.

Listen
2,569 Hypes 0 Comments

Freddie Gibbs & Lambo Believe Versatility Drives Longevity

Freddie Gibbs & Lambo Believe Versatility Drives Longevity

The duo reflect on 14 years of navigating in the business, his new album ‘Bandana’ and more.

Listen
10,703 Hypes 1 Comments

DAWN Wants to Expand the Idea of What a Black Artist Really Is

DAWN Wants to Expand the Idea of What a Black Artist Really Is

From Danity Kane to going solo, the singer details everything from her new album to industry politics to black empowerment and much more.

Listen
2,728 Hypes 0 Comments


More ▾

What to Listen to Next

Doja Cat Just Wants to Have Fun

Doja Cat Just Wants to Have Fun

Known for her viral hit “Mooo!,” the multifaceted talent discusses happiness, women in music and much more.

Listen
20,069 Hypes 22 Comments

10k.Caash Showcases Dallas' Penchant for Originality

10k.Caash Showcases Dallas' Penchant for Originality

The creator of “The Woah” dance talks dancing, social media, video games and more.

Listen
4,838 Hypes 6 Comments

Miki Agrawal on Challenging Stigmas by Talking Taboo Topics

Miki Agrawal on Challenging Stigmas by Talking Taboo Topics

The entrepreneur and author details how she enjoys shifting culture through her past businesses, Wild and Thinx, and her latest venture Tushy.

Listen
6,681 Hypes 6 Comments

Davido Wants to Break Your Misconception About Africa

Davido Wants to Break Your Misconception About Africa

The international artist tells us how he broke into the American music scene and what he hopes for the future of Afrobeat.

Listen
7,804 Hypes 0 Comments

Jaysse Lopez Wants to Revitalize the Retail Space

Jaysse Lopez Wants to Revitalize the Retail Space

Urban Necessities’ founder tells how he turned $20 USD in to $20 million USD, and why he partnered with American Eagle.

Listen
33,221 Hypes 22 Comments

More ▾
 
Subscribe to our Newsletter

Gain access to exclusive interviews with industry creatives, think pieces, trend forecasts, guides and more.

By subscribing, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Adblock Detected

We charge advertisers instead of our readers. If you enjoy our content, please add us to your adblocker's whitelist. We'd really appreciated it.

Episode Transcript

Nicole McLaughlin Turned Trash Into Treasure

Graphic designer by day and conceptual artist by night, she details the inspiration behind her cult Instagram following.