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, usually known as Nic or Nicola. Keepsake artist and jeweller. I’m a wife, parent, LGBTQ non-binary person, vegan and disabled. Lactivist and formula user. Business person, charity trustee and recipe blogger, traveller and linguist. Someone who has lost both a parent and a baby, rainbow parent. This is about me and my family and my persona feelings about Tree of Opals memorial and keepsake jewellery business.
Nic 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 (chestfeeding) 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 Bastian, 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 Bastian by natural caesarean (I’ll blog my birth plan another day) 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 women, some of whom made beautiful jewellery. I met Lorna and together we started the charity Project Kidogo, making cloth menstrual pads for teens in Tanzania.
Struggling to cope when my son was just a few weeks old I started drinking heavily again which ended suddenly after a wake-up call which saved my life. I joined the fellowships which forced me to look at my life and I am able to enjoy the odd glass in moderation now, but prefer not to because it’s a slippery slope. In NA 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 Bastian.
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 fair chunk of my husband’s salary. I worked for free, alone, for six months as well as being a full time mum to two toddlers. Our world collapsed when my husband 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. Throughout 2017 things have been very difficult and I’ve had to increase the estimated lead time to six to eight months now because of the popularity of my jewellery.
Things are looking up now with our new artist Gin being able to do most of the resin work and rings for me, and I’m looking for a new local apprentice (see below).
The Viking, death metal guitarist, author, developer, world’s best hubby/daddy and chilli eating boss. Check out this viral clip of Haks eating chillis back in 2015 (he’s in the green tshirt) below. Starting a new job with a more senior and challenging role in web development in November 2017 I couldn’t be more proud of my husband. He’s the one who helps me run the website and helps with customer relations and complaints. When my skin got really bad from using resin he helped me out a little and is bloomin good at making jewellery, hardly surprising as he’s really good at making most things. We’d love to do a pottery class together soon. Snooker lover, not keen on changing nappies but does it anyway.
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Creative newly-wed Joanna juggles working at a school, 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!
Gin is our other artist and after completing an apprenticeship with Nikki, started her own company My.liu and specialises in *tw* baby loss creations.
Joining our team soon will be Emma as admin assistant and we are looking for a new apprentice/studio assistant based in Shirehampton/Avonmouth to help me with studio based tasks such as posting and packaging. If you’d like to know more about the role please email me (Nikki Kamminga) directly on firstname.lastname@example.org We are LGBTQIA+ friendly and computer skills are vital (some experience with Mac and photography are helpful but not essential as you can learn on the go).