A woman of many talents and amazing resilience, Nicole Wing recently opened up Sea La Vie, a summer pop up boutique at 1112 First Street, near Tartine. The boutique, an extension of her online store, exudes her Americana coastal European inspired style, in all the things she creates and curates. Unfortunately, just as she was getting ready to open, she had surgery to repair her Achilles tendon torn while playing pickleball. Thankfully though, friends and family pitched in and the shop is ready to welcome guests. She laughs and says, “I’m so used to doing everything myself as a military spouse, it was hard to sit on my knee scooter and watch others organize my shop for the opening.”
She made history when she was born in Coronado, being the first baby born that year, and considers herself a true Coronado girl, even though as a military spouse she has lived all over the world. After graduating from CHS in 1997, she briefly attended Chico State University, before becoming an American Airlines flight attendant. Her passion profession was to be a dental hygienist, for which she went on to complete training after marrying another CHS alum Alan and becoming pregnant with her first son.
The military has had a profound impact on her life, requiring the family to move nearly every two years for the past 20 years. She has called Monterey, Rhode Island, Florida, and Belgium home and those are just a few of her favorites. She has enjoyed getting acquainted with every place they have lived but is now happy to call Coronado home again for the long term.
Nicole was able to work as a dental hygienist in the various places they’ve lived. But, especially in Europe, her side hustle was to frequent quaint antique markets, seeking out unique textiles, pottery, furniture, and other interesting finds. One of her favorite discoveries was discarded 300-year-old chairs, stuffed with horsehair, that she brought back to life. During their many moves, she quickly learned to adapt, and no matter where the family was stationed, she created a home with cozy décor.
When asked if she had always been creative, she responded, “I wasn’t artistic growing up, but my creative side came through from my travels, especially my first trip to Europe and my love of entertaining. How can you not be inspired living in a 500-year-old Gothic style house that was a former church rectory?”
Wanting to share all the treasures from the great artisans she found in Europe, she dreamed of launching a website to make the items more accessible in the U.S. It was a big learning curve, but she networked and listened to webinars, all while working and being a full-time parent to two boys while her husband was deployed. Her business, Sea La Vie, a play on the common French saying c’est la vie, launched as a website in 2018 while they were living in Newport, Rhode Island. She has sold goods at craft shows, has an Etsy shop, and even had a studio warehouse in Barrio Logan for a brief period during COVID. The pandemic has had a major impact on her business, especially with the cost of freight escalating 200 percent.
Having always dreamed of owning a boutique in her hometown, she looked at several spaces and got lucky when the owner of her current shop was willing to give her a short term lease, so she can see how a brick and mortar location works out and determine what her business will look like in the future. “I love beautiful and functional pieces and you will find those in my shop,” she shares. Some things she imports, some she creates like oilcloth tablecloths, holiday trees, etched lanterns, and more. She also displays local artisans’ creations like photography, jewelry, stationary, and shirts.
“I am inspired by all the places I’ve lived and travelled, coupled with my experiences meeting new people. I love to combine a variety of cultures to create unique pieces. It was important for me to have my business reflect my hometown as well.”
When the family was stationed in Europe the second time, Nicole embraced the culture and began to collaborate with a variety of artisans. Her red village houses come from a small shop where the creators only speak German. She also worked with artists in France to create a unique line of pottery, and a retired automotive accountant to create handcrafted furniture. “I am good with ideas. When I have a vision, I find an artisan to collaborate with and create beautiful pieces,” she says.
With a wide array of items to choose from, you are sure to find a special gift or unique décor item for your home. Sea La Vie features celebratory items for parties, stemmed from Nicole’s love of entertaining, solid furniture from Germany, collaborative French pottery, etched glasses she creates, sea inspired photos, posters, ornaments, multi-size towels, tote bags, Swedish indoor/outdoor rugs, local artisan jewelry, resin and wood boards, Americana, holiday items, repo altimeter clocks from her aviation influence, and much more.
“I took a gamble opening up this summer pop up shop, but I hope the items I create and curate resonate with locals and tourists so I can stay here as a community staple,” she reveals. Her etched lanterns and glasses have proven popular, with artwork of The Del and slogans like ‘Nauti Girl’ and ‘I run a tight shipwreck’. She sews, creates signs, and etches glass in her stuffed-to-the-gills craft room.
A social person, Nicole finds meeting people in the shop rewarding and thrives on helping people pick out unique, meaningful gifts. Sea La Vie is open Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 11 am to 6 pm; Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 am to 5 pm; and Saturday and Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm.
1112 First Street, Coronado