#47: Nicole McLaughlin

Upcycler Nicole McLaughlin on Smartfood, AVEX Water Bottles, Forensic Files, and more.

Cool people like cool things, which is why we asked cool person Nicole McLaughlin to come on Perfectly Imperfect & spread the hot rec wealth.

Since 2017 Nicole’s message of sustainability & tongue in cheek approach to upcycling has amassed her nearly 579k followers on Instagram. She’s transformed tennis balls and volleyballs into slippers, bread into gloves, and Purell into earrings— and that’s just scratching the surface. These eye-catching creations have landed her major collaborations with the likes of Crocs, Puma, Opening Ceremony, Reebok, Foot Locker, Prada, and more. Nicole has great taste and lucky for us, she’s here to talk about what she’s been into.

Without further ado


Nicole McLaughlin (instagram, tiktok)

🍿 Smartfood Popcorn: White Cheddar Cheese

Snacks are always high on my list. They keep me fueled throughout the day when I'm making and too busy to eat an actual meal, and honestly, I wouldn't be able to survive without them. I love healthier options like trail mix or granola, but I can't resist cookies and gummies. However,  my all-time favorite snack is Smartfood Popcorn. I love cheese, especially fake cheese, basically anything cheesy, so their white cheddar cheese is my jam. It's also a mindless snack; I don't think about it when I'm eating it, and I don't feel guilty when I eat a whole bag. And if you're like me, you've spent a lot of time during the pandemic eating your feelings, so why not do it with something that makes you feel a little less bad about yourself. 

📺 Forensic Files

I don't really watch movies. My attention span is more for TV. I like shows I can get a lot of information from quickly, and don't drag out the storyline forever, which is why I love Forensic Files. It's easy to follow, it's logical, and I learn something. It's also short and typically solves the case in 30 mins. I'm pretty satisfied after I've watched an episode. But let's be honest, I never watch just one. And when they investigate a significant case, I'll deep dive and go down a rabbit hole for hours. I also like watching shows about air disasters because they focus on learning from their mistakes and fixing their problems as preventative measures for the future. And when I have time, I watch short documentary films or weirdly specific documentaries about religion, cults, and underground sports.  

♻️ Display-only

People know that I buy a lot of my stuff online, especially since almost everything I purchase is resale, second-hand, or vintage to use in my work. But I have a secret love for second-hand retail store displays. I have a giant Croc, Vans slip-on, Jansport backpack, and more. I get excited and inspired by them. I love that they're so massive, but they were probably made exactly like standard production pieces. It's also a childhood thing for me, and having them brings that part of my youth back to life. 

🎵 Dance Gavin Dance

Ever since I "accidentally" downloaded one of their songs from a Torrent site when I was 14, I've been obsessed with this band. I was looking for the most popular hardcore songs of that year, and one of their songs ended up in my iTunes, and I liked it. You would think it was a phase, but it's not. It's just great music, very energetic, and a good beat. All their albums are currently on repeat at home and work. I planned to see them last March when they played in New York, but you know how that story goes. 

🚰 AVEX Freeflow Stainless Autoseal Water Bottle

This water bottle is the best. I got it as a gift and will probably take it with me to my grave. And it sounds a bit boring, a water bottle, but trust me. It's 40 fluid ounces, and two refills make up your daily intake; I usually drink three and a half. It's so easy to drink out of it, and the spout component is so simple to clean. You can put it in the dishwasher and not worry. But honestly, when you drink from it, you feel quenched. Avex got bought out, but you're still able to find this model under the Coleman name.

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