It's Personal... Not Business. Putting the "NDS" into my Jewellery!

Posted by Nicole Duranton Sigl on

Hey Folks,

Anybody out there? These days it's hard to know... Whoever you are though and wherever you choose to read this, I hope you are healthy, safe and sound. Because let's face it, that's the main thing, isn't it? Those who are new to my little corner of the world: WELCOME! I hope you enjoy my musings and storytelling. Those of you who follow my Instagram or Facebook page may remember how I did a poll/post and asked what kind of stories you wanted to hear more of from me. To my surprise, many of you got in touch and asked for a bit more personal background info. So that's my disclaimer, you asked for something personal (even more so!) and I'm trying to oblige as well as possible. Now here goes... Me, in a nutshell. You have been warned.

As my bio on this website states, I was born in Bavaria. In the Bavarian Forest, to be precise. Although my family background is rather diverse and mixed, being born and raised in Bavaria has shaped me in a myriad of ways and continues to do so to this day - although I have left Bavaria many years ago. I spent my formative years as a child free and wild, roaming the countryside and villages near my parental home, being the fourth generation to live in a cottage built by my paternal grandfather's family. The very walls would always whisper stories to me of those who lived and died there over the years, sometimes I'd even find or be given relics of its previous occupants. My love for treasure hunting, collecting and storytelling certainly started there and then. Both my parents, in their different ways, are very creative people and my urge to collect, make and pursue art (or whatever I deemed "art", in any case) was encouraged. Travel was an essential part of my upbringing, too, and I spent considerable time all over Europe to stay with family and friends, sometimes on my own. My unusual freedom came with a sense of responsibility and I spent a lot more time with grownups or older family/friends than other children I knew. I never quite fit in but I was getting on, so that was that.

My parents' work and lifestyle meant that I was continuously exposed to foreign cultures and, more specifically, food. So me being or feeling "different" became my "normal". It's fair to say that I grew up in the kitchen. Not just ours or those of family and friends... but also those of restaurants and hotels all over the place. Always watching, helping and tasting, I was being taught and learned so much from some of the most generous, talented and warmhearted chefs out there who still continue to be an inspiration to me today. Not just in the kitchen! This might explain how or why I run my own home kitchen with such vigour... just ask my long suffering (read: spoilt!) family.

Through school and travel I had picked up and developed a knack for languages so, paired with my love for literature and fine arts, it seemed like a good idea to study. Once more I packed my bags and, this time, for good. I left Bavaria for Heidelberg where I studied philosophy, languages (French, Spanish, Italian, Hebrew), literature, linguistics and cultural studies. More travels ensued and established my character as a hopeless vagabond, feet always itching, bags always packed... To keep me focused on staying in one place for long enough to finish my master's degree, I moved to Vienna, Austria. City of my childhood ramblings, I found a little space for myself (I had started to outgrow my Heidelberg student residence days and ways) and devoted myself to my studies. Since my teens I had continuously worked to pay for my treasures and travel. Between academic efforts and various jobs to keep me afloat, my ambitious schedule taught me to push myself even harder. Moreover, I continued to seasonally work in gastronomy to save up money for more travels as well as the next move... my boldest one yet at the time, in a way.

While I finished my dissertation and exams in Vienna, I was encouraged to consider academia as a career... which seemed a plausible idea at the time. My artistic pursuits had become that of a keen hobbyist and, due to travels, moving, and time restrictions, had also become more concise. After lots of exploration, I was no longer nurturing professional hopes as an artist of any kind but convinced myself that the academic life was the one for me. I still kept drawing and writing endlessly, the relative ease of both (while always being on the go) appealed to me and continued to help me make sense of the world(s) I moved in.

This lifelong learning and will to challenge myself led to me applying for a PhD position in Cork, Ireland, of all places. I had backpacked on my own through Ireland before, after school, yet had never stayed in the city of Cork before. My sense of curiosity was reason enough to accept their offer and, on the very day after my last exam in Vienna, I packed up my bags and set sail for Ireland, the "randomness" of which shocked many yet again. With nothing but my backpack (most of my other belongings were put into storage, some of it I sold) and on my own as usual, I landed in Cork on an overcast and unusually hot summer's day in 2005 - mildly surprised but immediately in love with the rebel county and its proud capital. Maybe I had finally found my place, where I'd "fit in"? 

Suffice it to say, a lot has happened since and, after 15 years, I may have found "my" place albeit not in the ways I (or anyone) expected. I still don't "fit in" though and have actually found out that I don't need to either! It's been a rollercoaster journey, that's for sure... It took more travel, studies (I finished my PhD on identity issues in Mexican and Québécois cinema, go figure!!), work and a lot of "life" to realise that what I was looking for was right there inside of me all along. So once that realisation hit me, there was no stopping me and I went back full-time to what I was always doing to begin with: telling stories in various different ways. Determined to make up for "lost time", I took on classes, workshops, trained and extensively researched (something I thankfully got quite good at during my academic career) my "new"/old field. Suddenly everything made sense and fell into place... my "random" collections and treasures, my art and books and drawings, my various practical and soft skills from my long list of jobs, my connections through travels, my languages ( I continue to learn new ones!)... it all feeds into NDS Jewellery now.

That's why it's never ever "just" business for me but personal. I've come a long way, literally as well as figuratively, and I have no intention of stopping now or anytime soon. I've learnt to not give up but to fall, fail even, try and try again, stand up and try some more. I continue to learn, train and teach myself every day, on different subjects or aspects of my job. Nothing random about that at all, if you ask me. And many of you did. So thank you for asking and for reading this now. This is the backbone of my story as only I can tell it. So that's what I did. Maybe this answers some of your questions and satisfies your curiosity to a degree. Probably this only leads to more questions, some of which I may be able to answer over time. Just keep asking me!

For now, I hope, you enjoyed coming along for this little journey through my life... this is how I put a dose of "determined, different and daring" into everything I create. Hopefully, it inspires you in some ways... do let me know! 

With love and virtual hugs,

Nicole x