I am really exciting to introduce you to Nicole Delma. Nicole is a mother of two children and the owner of a concept store called Mind Offline based in Sag Harbor, New York, where she loves to gather with her local community.
Nicole and I sympathized through Instagram and even if I don't know her personally I can totally see in her an over achiever and a doer as one of her main traits of her personality. She is very attached to everything around sustainability and she has already made an impact and put into actions ideas she had, to help everyone live in a more eco-conscious world.
In this interview we will talk about her background, how she started her concept store, how sustainability plays a role in her life and what makes her feel grounded.
1- Hello Nicole, can you let us know a little bit about your background and how you ended up founding Mind Offline?
Growing up in the Pacific NorthWest, making and craftsmanship in tune with the seasons were very much a part of our rhythm of life. In the summer, we dyed with berries, in the winter we made wreaths out of evergreens. There were art shows and public markets every weekend and small independent boutiques and galleries on every corner. Everyone I knew was in a band and knew how to sew or dye or make ceramics or beadwork. However, around the same time I was entering middle school, the PNW was becoming a major center for tech and the introduction of computers to our schools and eventually homes abruptly changed the way we spent our free time and our aptitude for creative thinking and handwork. It was almost like going online shut down that vital creative part of the brain that brings us real joy and allows us to lose track of time in the process - at least for me.
While I had the Mind Offline concept of making space to help people reconnect with their analog or pre-online selves for several years, the slowdown of the pandemic gave me permission to step away from the constant digital obligations. It provided the opportunity to finally explore this vision further and I finally launched Mind Offline.
Having two small, artistically-voracious children at home certainly helped to inspire me. When we ran out of making materials at home, I reached out to artists in our community and we quickly had ceramic kits, natural dye kits, pizza dough kits and began doing outdoor workshops. Our community responded and quickly validated that others were also looking for creative ways to spend time making with beautiful materials again - or perhaps for the first time.
(Nicole is wearing our classic white jumpsuit)
2- I know that sustainability plays a big role in your life. Was it part of your journey as a kid or is it something that grew into you as an adult?
I tie back my interest in sustainability to a childhood spent outdoors exploring beaches, mountains and forests. I also had a unique experience in my twenties in which I was able to spend time on an uninhabited island in Panama where no humans should have been - yet we saw traces of human waste deep into the pristine island.
In my thirties, I found myself working for a major retail brand and was astonished at how low of a priority environmental impact was on the list. At that time, I stepped away from the corporate fashion world and decided to commit myself to working on causes and with brands I felt more aligned with.
As an adult, I have involvement in much larger environmental initiatives such as founding the Environmental Category of the Hamptons International Film Festival and championing a petition to combat ecommerce waste that garnered 800,000 signatures and continues to be a key focus for me.
(Nicole is wearing our Aliette Dress in mustard!)
3- How do you include/enforce sustainability into your business?
When considering products for the store, we always start by looking at how they were produced, with which materials and how they will be packaged. Quality is also a big factor as an item or a garment that won't last, even if sustainably made, is still wasteful.
Some truly sustainable goods are at a higher price point so we try to also carry vintage in similar materials to invite customers to see how a really good wool or well crafted piece of jewelry will stand the test of time. Finally, we started a local wool initiative whereby we are making hand knit goods with wool that is grown, milled, knit and dyed all within 300 miles of us. This dramatically cuts down on the waste that goes into transporting garments around the world for various steps in production.
4- How would you describe your style and how do you choose your new pieces that you add into your closet?
My mother and father were both in fashion so I think my style is modern classic but I'm not afraid to be the only one wearing something or the first to wear something in my community, This past year, I've been championing the glam 80s sweaters from my mom's line and I love that I can tell people about the story and about the fibers. I do tend to keep things simple with easy separates I can mix and match and that I can live in as my day might involve playing with my kids, tending to my angora rabbits, working in the shop, a trip to the beach and a conference call. Versatility, quality and timelessness are important to me. Most of the pieces in my closet I have or will have for years.
(Nicole is wearing our painter jumpsuit)
5- You seem to be really creative in your natural dying art process. Is creativity an important part of your life?
I did not realize just how important creativity is to my life until I came back to it. For years, I put energy into athletic pursuits, working hard at a career, philanthopic work and, while all of those things are important - nothing now compares to the importance I hold in spending 30-60 minutes a day ideating and making. I literally wake up with visions and dreams of color and order of color and of texture and I can't stop until I've seen it in 3D. I believe creative time is vital to a balanced lifestyle and for me was more successful at quelling anxiety and bringing joy than any other practice I tried. Making is my meditation.
6- How did you navigate being a mum and an entrepreneur during the first 2 years of the pandemic? Do you think that it has left an imprint on your daily life going forward? In other words: are there any lessons learned that you would like to share with us?
The most valuable lesson I learned while navigating being a mum and starting a new endeavor during the pandemic was the fact that every step I took, every decision I made, I was modeling for two tiny people who absorb like sponges.
I was also surprised to learn that kids want to be involved deeply in family pursuits and in the creative process. They want to help choose colors and materials and be empowered to make decisions - starting as early as 2 and 3. They wanted to be involved in merchandising the store, decorating for holidays and even in choosing what I would wear on certain days.
Without prompting, my kids quickly started making their own 'stores' and 'experiments' whether at home or at the beach or in the garden at school. While much of that creativity came from inside of them, the freedom to express it and need to express it was fully acknowledged. They also had a chance to learn by watching the trade offs and some of the long days when your feet might hurt or the dishes might not get done or the dogs barely got fed and they began to respect the need to pause and rest and have days where there is nothing on the schedule but free time.
I was privileged to watch my own mom start multiple businesses as a child - some worked and some didn't but the notion that you can do whatever you set your mind to is definitely something I wanted to pass on to my children and hope that I am.
7-What makes you feel grounded?
l feel most grounded when I have days that I feel very in tune with the nature around me - human, animal, plant and otherwise. When I pause and listen and hear the ocean or the birds or my children's breath. Working with natural materials like wool, cotton and botanicals is inherently grounding too. I truly believe the materials call you as they need you and you need them and I try to listen to the plants and the fungi and the fiber and choose what is right that day.
Thank you so much Nicole for your time, I appreciate you so much!
You can find more information about her concept store directly here: https://mindoffline.co/
Instagram is: https://www.instagram.com/mindofflineliving/