“There is no force equal to a woman determined to rise.” – Web Dubois
Each style of the earrings handmade by Nicke Minder of Avenue261 is named after a great woman in history. “It was important to me that this brand was empowering to girls and women and I wanted my oldest daughter Avery to have a part in the behind the scenes aspect of the job,” Minder shared. “Avery has been a big fan of Goodnight Stories For Rebel Girls for the past few years, so she suggested we name the shapes after women we admire and that’s the direction the brand started going.” I personally love everything about this.
Avenue261 started as a second business for Minder. “When I began Avenue261, I already had a full time business, page261, which I ran online and also out of a brick and mortar store. Once I began creating earrings and seeing how happy they made people, and how happy I was to be making something new, I decided to focus on Avenue261 full time,” she said. Minder’s daughter also inspired the shop name. “We call her Ave for short and Avenue abbreviated is also Ave. The number 261 is my favorite page from my favorite book and I brought the number over to the new business as well!”
The small shop focuses on fashionable vegan leather earrings made with nickel-free ear hooks. The classic Henrietta style, named after Henrietta Lacks, comes in a variety of colors and patterns (like stripes, leopard cork, houndstooth and ostrich feather) and is a consistent fan favorite. I also like the lightweight look of the Claudette and the Nellie, named for civil rights activist Claudette Colvin and journalist Nellie Bly, respectively. “It’s hard to pick a favorite because all the earring styles share the story of a woman in history but in terms of my personal favorite style and shape, I would say the Dorothy is my favorite,” Minder said. For Minder, the best part of designing is selecting the leather colors and researching the historical namesakes. “Each style of earring has an earring card with the name of the style on the front and the story of the woman on the back and I love to design those!”
As part of the shop’s “Allies of the Month” program, Minder donates a portion of profits every month to an organization or charity that give women a voice. “Each month an ‘ally’ (style) of earring is on sale for the duration of the month and I choose a different charity or organization to donate to. A portion of profits from the ‘ally’ of the month, and all other sales, are donated to that organization,” she explained. “The ‘ally’ picked typically coincides with the organization for that month. For instance, the Mary is a style named after Mary Francis Hill Coley who was a Black midwife in the South and when I chose that style to be the ‘ally’ for the month, we donated to Wise Community Doulas.”
This mission to empower women also inspires Minder’s design choices. “It is important to me that every single person that comes to my website or social media channels feels included and loved, and my inspiration comes from that desire,” Minder exclaimed. “From designing a new style, naming it, the pictures I post on social media, and the wording I use on my website and in my interactions with people….it all stems from the desire for everyone to know they belong.”