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December 07. 2013 7:03PM

Mike Cote's Business Editor's Notebook: NuraBella Jewelry shines


Nurit Niskala of NuraBella Jewelry talks about one of her popular products, a memory bracelet at her Manchester shop. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

Danielle Smith of Derry makes copper earrings at NuraBella Jewelry in Manchester. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

A turquoise vintage necklace. NuraBella Jewelry in Manchester. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

Danielle Smith of Derry makes hammers copper while making earrings at NuraBella Jewelry in Manchester. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)
The tiny NuraBella Jewelry studio store at 575 S.Willow St. in Manchester offers Nurit Niskala a showcase to display her wire-wrapped jewelry and adds a retail side to her wholesale business. It also enables her customers to see where the jewelry is made.

Behind the white curtain of the small boutique, Niskala's workers sit at tables in a much larger workroom, where they assemble chokers, bracelets, earrings and necklaces - delicately wrapping wires and combining metal-smithed pieces with brightly colored crystals of blue, pink and other shades.

Niskala, who founded the business nine years ago, relocated the company from the Mill Building on Commercial Street in September so that her customers could have a more convenient place to visit.

"It also helps them to understand that it's really hand-crafted locally, which is very important," said Niskala, who previously operated a clothing import-export company in her native Israel.

Niskala, 58, was trained as an architect but found herself working full time as a banker to support her family. "Money is an issue when you have two girls," she said.

After experiencing clinical death while giving birth to her youngest daughter 29 years ago, she was inspired to follow her passion for art. The near-death experience, as she described it, was a wake-up call and changed her life.

For the next decade, she operated Nurit Designs, a clothing business that had distribution across Europe and allowed her to explore her creative side. In 2004, she moved to New Hampshire with her husband, Keith, an engineer from the Granite State, and decided to start the jewelry line, which she said builds on her family's heritage of artisan jewelers.

"I'm doing what I love to do," she said. "This is what everyone needs to do. Go after your heart."

While the business is tucked away on the second floor next door to a salon, its presence on one of the city's busiest streets has elevated NuraBella's local profile.

In addition to the shop, Niskala sells NuraBella's products to wholesalers, museums and high-end gift stores and directly to customers through the company's website (nurabellajewelry.com). Prices range from $8 for smaller pieces to $269 for one-of-a-kind larger items.

NuraBella's branding is "Find your color." She invites customers to visit the store, so they can order custom pieces to match their outfits: "My jewelry is very colorful, really fun," she said. "I'm always thinking of pieces that would make women happy and are easy to wear."

While one of her daughters operated the store on Black Friday, Niskala was in Wilmington, Mass., at a craft show, another venue she frequents to sell and promote her wares.

This weekend, NuraBella is participating in the NH for the Holidays Expo, which continues today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Radisson Hotel Expo Center, 700 Elm St., in Manchester.

The expo is a fitting venue for the company: "It's all hand-crafted in New Hampshire, unique wire-wrapped jewelry that you can't see in the big retail stores," she said. "It's important to shop local and support American artists."

Niskala employs about a dozen workers, primarily stay-at-home moms.

"It provides them a job while they are taking care of kids," she said. "But this is after three months of training. It's not stringing jewelry. It's wire-wrapping techniques that take a long time to master. After they know it very, very well, they can work at home. Some work with me at the studio."

During a tour of the workspace last week, Niskala displayed a basket of rejects - several pieces of jewelry that were not made to her exacting standards. While each piece of jewelry is unique, she knows how she wants them to look.

"The quality is so important to me. Customer service is our first priority," she said.

She offers custom bridal designs for wedding parties and meets one on one with customers. She plans to set up a consultation area in her office by the jewelry studio.

The NuraBella retail shop is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for the holiday season and by appointment until 7 p.m. But you usually won't find Niskala at the shop until sometime after lunch.

"I work until very late at night. I get all my inspiration at night," she said.




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Mike Cote is business editor at the Union Leader. Contact him at 668-4321, ext. 324 or mcote@unionleader.com.