Ben Leuner (photographer),
Mary Toto (writer)
Nichole East's business card reads "Kid Robot, Toy Baroness." That says enough. As one of the first employees at quirky-cool adult toy company Kid Robot, she remembers when the team was so tiny that they were excited just to have business cards.
"There were only maybe six or seven of us total," she recalls. "We had so many tasks that when it came to having a title, there was too much stuff to put down. Baroness meant bitch and we were like, ‘Fuck yeah, baroness, that's perfect.'"
Born and raised in Oregon, East enrolled in college in Jersey City because of its proximity to New York. She excelled in marketing and business and discovered what would turn out to be one of the most crucial elements in her life—art. "I never really had any experience with art until I went to college and had to take a class. I fell totally in love with it."
After graduation, East worked a few office jobs before landing at Kid Robot, where her days include curating new creative, like the hit run of limited edition Tattoo Dunnies that sold out in 2007, and color-coding an Excel sheet budget. "I can't even draw a stick figure but I have all of these amazing, talented people in my life who can do that sort of thing. I just want to be able to help them."
An avid toy collector, East recently moved and let go of thousands of toys so she could begin collecting original artwork. "It's good because it's a lot more expensive, which means I buy a lot less," she says.
But the fact that she's adding fewer toys to her collection doesn't mean she'll stop adding tattoos. East's favorite and arguably most striking tattoo is the giant peacock on her arm by Joe Capobianco. The piece is a tribute to her grandfather and features the crest of the fire station where he was fire chief. "I feel like the peacock is a symbol of a developing friendship with a tattoo artist who did me such an honor by doing this for my grandfather." She already has her next tattoos planned, including bubbles and jellyfish by Nick Baxter and a tiger lily on her neck.
She also plans on starting her own artist management company and, of course, sticking with Kid Robot. "When you come in [to the office], you may be picking a date for an event overseas or color-coordinating the color of a Labitt butt hole. You never really know what to expect."