Meet the Maker – Nicole O’Brien of Unique Pl8z

Chloe Tate

This week in our ongoing Meet the Maker series, we’re getting to know Nicole, the creative genius behind the uniquely creative brand Unique Pl8z!

Nicole O'Brien of Unique Pl8z

LBC: What inspired you to take the leap as an entrepreneur?
Nicole: I have always loved the idea of owning my own business.  My first business was actually a children’s consignment store in Poquoson, Virginia.  I was heartbroken when I had to sell the store upon receiving military orders to Japan.  During my downtime and preparation for the move, I started making these cool signs and everyone seemed to love them.

With the encouragement and support of friends and family I figured I would try to make some money selling my signs once we were settled in Okinawa.  I did my first festival about 4 months after we arrived (1.5 months after receiving all our household goods).  I made 250 signs, threw together a little display, and talked the festival director into giving me the first two tables at the entrance of the event.  In 3 days I sold 197 signs, and received 22 custom orders.  I was completely shocked, and it was then I thought I might be on to something!

LBC: How would you describe what you create?
Nicole: I use old and expired license plates from all over the United States to create fun, one of a kind signs and accessories.

LBC: When you first got started, how did you envision your business would be defined?
Nicole: When I first started, I thought I would sell my signs at craft fairs and bazaars, and I would give Etsy a shot.  I really didn’t expect to sell much on Etsy because of the large amount of vendors. Surprisingly, Etsy has provided me an opportunity to run a full-time business.

LBC: Where can we find your products?
Nicole: I am currently selling on Etsy, Facebook, and Instagram.  I will be participating in some popular art shows and craft fairs this summer and fall.

Unique Pl8z Oh The Places You Will Go Art

LBC: Walk us through a typical work day.
Nicole: After I get the kids off to school, I try to get an hour of exercise in.  Then I head to my studio (a.k.a. the garage), and get a few hours of production in.  Some days it’s cutting and sanding wood, some days it’s painting wood and cleaning license plates, and then other days it’s assembling signs and shipping them out.  I stop working around 3pm so that I can grab the kids from school, give them snacks, and then it is off to dance and karate practices.  After homework, baths, and dinner are complete I tuck the kids into bed, and I head back to work for a few hours catching up on computer work.

LBC: What are the some things makers should think through when they initially decide to start a business?

1) What do you want to sell and why?
2) Who is going to be your ideal customer?
3) Where is your customer located, where do they shop, and how are you going to reach them everyday?

LBC: When you’re overwhelmed, what brings you back to focus?
Nicole: When I get overwhelmed (which seems to be happening a lot lately!!), I force myself to take a break.  I don’t make anything, and I stay off of social media and the computer.  I try to exercise more and spend a little quality time with my family.  After a couple of days I tend to feel a lot better.

Unique Pl8z license plate box

LBC: Tell us about a few of the best business decisions you’ve made to date.
Nicole: One of the best business decisions I made was deciding to sell on  After selling on Etsy for about year and half, I realized that I wanted to make this my full time job and I wanted to take my biz “to the next level”.  But honestly, I had absolutely no idea how.  I stumbled upon this Facebook page called Lucky Break Consulting, and I was immediately hooked.  Investing in LBU was hands down, the absolute best investment I have ever made.  Ever.  It truly has been life changing.


LBC: Please share one mistake or obstacle from your business experience. 
Nicole:  I made a very rookie mistake thinking that I could do it all.  Including my own photography.  I highly underestimated how important product photography is, and I now realize that I need professional help, photography help.

LBC: Is there a cause or organization that you’re particularly passionate about?
Nicole:  I am interested in a lot of charities and organizations that are affiliated with the military, veterans, and military children.  I donate a lot of products to various military organizations, and I am currently working on partnerships with a couple of charities.  I hope to share specifics very soon.


LBC: What are 3 essential resources in your business toolbox you can’t do without?
Nicole: Ok, so this may sound really bad, but I only have one resource I use regularly. That would be the LBU alumni coaching group on Facebook.

Unique Pl8z Letter Keychain

LBC: Suppose we had a time machine. If we blasted ourselves forward a few years, where would we see your company?
Nicole:  I’m not exactly sure where we will be located physically (good ol’ military lifestyle), but you will find Unique Pl8z products in various gift shops throughout the country, perhaps even overseas.  Unique PL8z will be selling products on our own website, and we will be killing it at high profile trade shows all over the country.

LBC: Which Lucky Break products or services have you utilized and how have they proved helpful?
Nicole: I am fortunate enough to have graduated from Lucky Break University.  The course was absolutely mind blowing.  I had no idea that I knew so little about the wholesale market.  I have learned the steps and procedures to have a kick ass wholesale program, and I am plugging away at them one step at a time.  I am so thankful for the alumni coaching group, the continued access to the LBU materials alone is worth the price of admission.  But the networking and support from all the “students” is so beneficial.

LBC: Your musical play list is full of … 
Nicole: Dave Matthews Band, Adele, and Jock Jams

Unqiue Pl8z Large Peace Sign

LBC: If you could hire someone to do just one thing that you sort of loathe doing, what would it be? 
Nicole: I would hire a driver.  I absolutely hate driving.

LBC: Tell me a few of the places on your travel bucket list.
Nicole: Thailand, Fiji, and Ireland top my travel bucket list.  Iceland use to be on that list too, but after this New England winter I am in no hurry to go to a land of ice.

Thank you, Nicole, for sharing your talent with us (and your gorgeous travel bucket list)!  We absolutely love your line and we look forward to all the wonderful things ahead for Unique Pl8z! We’re cheering you on…

Want to see your brand featured in our continuing “Meet the Maker” series? Drop us a line: hello AT Please use “MEET THE MAKER” as the subject line and be certain to include your web address. We look forward to hearing from you!

About the Author

Chloe Tate

Once described as “relentlessly cheerful,” Chloe is a lover of all things colorful and practically every fruit known to man. She lives in Atlanta and divides her time between supporting Lucky Break clients, keeping shop at a local artisan market, and event planning for business conferences. She’s also working on the launch of her skincare line while finishing her degree in Organizational & Leadership Studies. True story: Chloe shares 50% of Lela’s DNA and is poised to inherit her obscenely large shoe collection.

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