By Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University
“Bling.” My daughters would say that this term refers to fun, shiny jewelry.
Today we’ll meet a remarkable young woman entrepreneur who has built a business around providing fashionable bling for women. She is not only overcoming the challenges of business, she has found that doing so is helping her overcome the challenges of health and life itself.
Nicole Hedges-Campos is the founder of Bling Glamour, a clothing and fashion accessory business. She grew up in the rural community of Scott City, population 4,113 people. Now, that’s rural.
Hedges-Campos attended Kansas State University and joined a sorority. After college, she moved to Las Vegas with two sorority sisters. She was working in a marketing position when an unknown health disorder popped up.
“I got really sick,” she said. On one occasion, she passed out on an airplane. No one could identify the cause. Ultimately she lost her driver’s license and moved back with her parents in Scott City.
“We were going to doctors all over the country, trying to figure out what was wrong,” Hedges-Campos said. Finally a physician at the Cleveland Clinic identified that she had a connective tissue disease, and prescribed treatment.
Back home, Hedges-Campos was cleaning rooms at her parent’s bed and breakfast. She also started selling purses from her basement.
“I love fashion,” she said. “My mom and I always enjoyed shopping.”
Her eye for fashion proved successful, as customers became very interested in the items she was offering. Hedges-Campos also met and married Mark, a local teacher and coach.
Hedges-Campos decided to open a shop in downtown Scott City. She named it Bling Glamour. The shop started selling handbags and accessories, and expanded its product lines over time to include clothing and jewelry.
“It was a hit,” she said. Not only did the business grow, it seemed to give her a purpose in her recovery. “Bling got me back on my feet. God put this in my heart, and I started getting stronger.”
It went so well that Nicole decided to open a second store in Garden City. “That store went crazy,” she said. A third store opened in Manhattan.
Bling Glamour has grown so much that Mark has joined the business, along with Nicole’s parents. In addition to its online presence, Bling Glamour now has 26 stores in Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Missouri, with another on the way.
There have been challenges. At one point, their distribution center was lost to fire. On another, the roof collapsed on their store in Hays.
“It’s been a journey, and a lot of work,” Hedges-Campos said. “God has closed doors in our face, and He has opened them. We relied on our faith to get us through. We feel we are meant to do this.”
Hedges-Campos has especially enjoyed mentoring young women who have joined the company. “We’ve helped encourage some incredible leaders who are working really hard. I’ve loved watching other women find opportunity, find strength, and be leaders.”
Bling Glamour can outfit a customer from head to toe – literally. The company offers items from hats to shoes, with apparel, jewelry and other accessories in between. Kendra Scott jewelry is a popular feature. The store stays very current. “We buy weekly,” Hedges-Campos said.
Through its online site, Bling Glamour is shipping items across the nation and beyond. “We just had an order from Guam,” Hedges-Campos said.
“We cater to everybody. This is not only for young women. A grandmother can shop with her granddaughter, and each one can find something. It’s like coming into the store to play dress-up.”
She adds: “I want people to feel better about themselves after they come in. I tell my staff, ‘Love people.’”
For more information, go to www.blingglamour.com.
Bling. Not only does it enhance one’s wardrobe, it has enabled this young entrepreneur to empower other woman and enrich their lives while enhancing her own health. We commend Nicole Hedges-Campos for making a difference with her fashion and her faith.
I’m glad bling is a thing.