Welcome to the Tree of Opals website and here you’ll learn a little bit more about us.
Owner and Artist
Hi I’m Nikki Kamminga. Keepsake artist and jeweller. I’m a single parent to three children and tutorial maker. I love to cook, sketch and travel whilst learning a new language. Someone who has lost both a parent and a baby, rainbow parent. This is about me and my family and my personal feelings about Tree of Opals memorial and keepsake jewellery business. My eldest two children have additional needs and my youngest likes to breastfeed all the time! One day I would like to do charity work with people suffering domestic abuse especially financial abuse because this is close to my heart.
Nikki appeared on This Morning in April 2017 with Holly and Phil to talk about the trend of umbilical cord and other baby keepsakes
I believe in middle way parenting and following my instincts, so when I had trouble breastfeeding after a breast reconstruction I looked into alternatives to give my baby what I thought was the best start in life; by asking other families for breastmilk on the internet.
When I lost a baby in between Ayla and Hannah, my grief sent me down a path to learn more about reusable menstrual products. I attended a red tent even near my hometown. When I gave birth to Hannah by planned caesarean I kept my placenta and made my own capsules, balm and artwork from it. I trained as an encapsulation specialist and met more inspiring working people, some of whom made beautiful jewellery.
Struggling to cope when my baby was just a few weeks old, I had post natal depression and started drinking heavily. I don’t like to drink much now because it’s a slippery slope. I needed an outlet for my creativity and a way to make money to buy food for the family. I learnt more about myself and I saw a chance to combine some of my skills in art, creativity, web design, marketing, blogging and customer service with my obsession with keeping my babies’ mementos, unshockability and familiarity with pain and loss. I started Tree of Opals in the summer of 2015 while exclusively breastfeeding Hannah.
This business has grown faster than I have ever anticipated and I’ve plunged every penny I’ve taken back into it and every child benefit payment I’ve had, and a some of my ex’s salary. I worked for free, alone, for six months as well as being a full time parent to a baby and a toddler. Our world collapsed when their dad was made redundant and we had to move the studio for the fourth time in six months. I thought I’d never catch up with orders and my mental health spiralled downhill. Things improved when another artist started helping me with orders but when I realised again that they weren’t to my standards I had to work alone again and remake dozens of orders. I had problems finding artists and took on an apprentice, but she left not long after training. Throughout 2017 things were very difficult and I had to increase the estimated lead time to six to eight months now because of the popularity of my jewellery.
Around that time, some customers unhappy with waiting joined together in a group and started bullying me along with strangers. I received dozens of bad reviews and two court cases that ended with me attempting suicide. I made it through and promised myself that I wouldn’t take things personally and I’d deal with issues when they cropped up.
Things are going so well now, with my other business Keepsaker Supplies doing better than ever. I have five helpers including my mum who packages up glitter at her house for me.
Creative admin manager Joanna juggles being a full-time mummy, creating gorgeous machine embroidery and helping our clients do anything from choose a piece to logging in, she sends out our kits once a week and keeps the orders organised. Couldn’t do it without you!