INTERVIEW WITH NICOLE SPENCER —
FOUNDER OF MŌMI VINTAGE
1. During this unconventional time, what does a day in your life look like?
If I'm feeling motivated enough, I'll do a workout before I start my day a few times a week. It's not always the case, and that's okay. I never regret working out though. It clears my head and helps center my focus for the day. 9AM to 6PM is my Monday through Friday work schedule. Finding the time to get outside at some point in the day is always one of my top priorities- whether that's hanging on the patio, going on a walk, or ending work 30 minutes early to catch the sunset. It’s been a work in progress having a balanced home and work life that share the same space. After work, I've been trying to become more intentional with my self-care rituals as I wind down for the night. I feel best after taking a warm bath and when my skin is super hydrated from head to toe. My favorite skincare splurge is Vitner's Daughter Essence and Botanical Serum. I'm on my third bottle, and my skin has never been happier. For my body, I'm pretty simple and just use straight up raw mango seed butter. After that I'll usually whip up a quick healthy dinner. Weekends are a different story. It's a-free-for-all with not much structure, and I love it.
2. I love what you've created with Mōmi Vintage. What was the premise of it?
Thank you so much. Growing up my family loved going to garage sales on the weekends. All five of us packed up in our sky blue Mercury station wagon, went stop to stop, and made a fun day of it. As a kid, I didn't enjoy this much besides the fact that we'd buy a gas station donut at the end of it, but I think Mōmi really stemmed from my love and appreciation for secondhand items that grew on me from an early age- Beyond that, it brings a sense of nostalgia. My family has a running joke about the amount of times we've switched out our coffee table, and to be honest, we switch the decor in our house quite often due to the fact that I love vintage shopping. This naturally progressed into something bigger when I couldn't keep all of my finds myself and I thought about selling it on Instagram. A few months ago, we introduced our very first in-house designed checkered cutting board. I work with an amazing woman in Florida who handmakes each and every board herself. They're currently on back order, but I'm hoping to bring them back soon. Overall I feel incredibly grateful to share these pieces with people that love it just as much as I do.
Mōmi Vintage's Checkered Cutting Board
3. How has the pandemic affected your creative pursuits? With operating Mōmi Vintage as well as your photography practice?
Aside from Mōmi and my photo work, I work full-time for a swim brand managing their creative content and social. There isn't a day that goes by that makes me feel grateful to still have a job. I know that hasn't been the case for so many people. Most of my family lost their jobs in Hawaii for almost all of 2020, which was the case for so many families out there. My mom owns a boutique that actually just re-opened after closing almost a year ago. Our family has owned the shop for over 40 years, so we're good friends with the property owners. When tourism came to a stand-still, the landlords graciously waived rent until she decided to reopen which saved the business. It's incredible to see the aloha out there and how the community is supporting one another.
4. Is portraiture a form you generally gravitate towards?
Portraiture in photography is my absolute favorite. Whenever I'm shooting full body, I always find myself gravitating closer and closer until we're eye to eye with just a lens separating our gaze. There's so much I can feel through someone's eyes when shooting them.
5. Where are you finding inspiration at the moment?
You know, my husband is really inspiring me at the moment with his photo work. I can't keep up with all of the projects he's working on, but they're amazing. We share an office at home and occasionally I'll turn around to see what he's working on, and sometimes I freak out and say YOU SHOT THAT?! It still shocks me to see what he can produce and shoot. I find so much beauty in his dedication of being self-taught and working his way to where he is now. We'll be driving in the car and out of nowhere he'll mention a crazy idea to shoot something he has in his head, and I think that excitement and passion really keeps me excited for my work too. He has his "crazy" ideas written down, and I have zero doubt that he'll execute it with so much thought and vision. He will definitely get a little embarrassed when he reads this, but hey it's the truth.
6. Name one thing upcoming that you're excited for, personally or professionally.
I'm really excited to travel back to Maui again this summer. I traveled back last December and it was so refreshing to be home with family.
7. What rituals or activities keep you grounded & clear-minded right now?
Lately, I've cut back on the coffee and started drinking tea or a homemade latte-type drink in the morning with chai, ashwagandha, reishi, cordyceps, cocoa butter, almond milk, and water. It's amazing how clear minded I feel first thing in the morning. I've also been trying to form better night-time habits to improve my sleep. My sister-in-law recommended the app Headspace and it's really helped me to wind down easier and avoid just scrolling on the phone. Between that and reading before bed, I've seen a big improvement in my overall sleep.