Spotlight: Nicole Monk-Murphy

Healing by Design

By Martti Peeples

Nicole Monk-Murphy comes from a long line of strong, devout women, including some who have dedicated their lives to helping others through their careers in the medical field. Nicole is the youngest of her parents’ children. Her mother, the late Bernice Monk, was like no other. Bernice taught and led by example, with love at the forefront of everything she did.

At just 15 years old, Nicole joined her mother and two sisters, Erika and GiGi, at St. Joseph Nursing Home, working as a receptionist every weekend. Nicole worked her way up to Accounts Payable after nearly seven years at St. Joseph.

In 2001, an event happened which would forever alter Nicole’s life. In August of that year, the family matriarch passed away from cancer. Nicole’s mother Bernice–Mother Monk, or Sis. Monk to many–was the family’s heartbeat and strength. Nicole found herself falling into a depression because Bernice was not only her mother, but her best friend. Nicole was hurting but had no clear way out of her depression, until she found herself with some beads one day and started to make some jewelry pieces. One design led to another and she started making pieces for her family. Later, people would stop her and ask her where she bought her jewelry. Many were shocked to learn that she herself was the designer of the beautiful pieces she wore. This gift was passed on to her from both her parents: Mother Monk, who did ceramics, and her father, Deacon Sylvester Monk, who built things out of steel.

Nicole worked various jobs but found her passion and her peace in the jewelry she designed. She went on to work for the Karmanos Center as a patient coordinator for seven years, and in between, she continued to design.

What makes Nicole’s jewelry special is that each piece is one-of-a-kind. No two designs are the same. Upon request, she has designed jewelry paying homage to the motion picture Black Panther. She has designed pieces for special events such as graduations and anniversaries. Her pieces are always inspired by something and always serve as homage to her best friend, her mother.

Nicole’s jewelry also helps serve other purposes. Over the years, Nicole has battled health, employment, and other personal issues, but has always stayed focused on building her brand and getting her name out there. She has given lectures and spoken at church events, inspiring other women to take the leap of faith and turn their dreams and passions into their own business. Her parents may be gone, but their strength–along with the support of her sisters and her husband, Andre Murphy–keeps her focused, with her eye on the prize.

Recently, Nicole took another leap of faith and resigned from her job to work full-time on her jewelry. But now, during the Covid-19 pandemic, she has once again jumped in to help care for others, designing cloth face masks for health care workers, family, and friends upon request.

If you would like to see some of Nicole’s beautiful designs, you can find her on YouTube by searching “Nicoli en Detwa,” visit her website at nicolidetwa.com, or follow her on Facebook at “Nicoli En Detwa.” The name is a combination of her name and her hometown: Nicoli (Nicole) En (in) Detwa (a French phonetic pronunciation of “Detroit,” which was first a French settlement). Nicole’s motto for overcoming adversity is simple: “ When you can’t keep yourself, God will keep you.”