You've probably seen fidget toys: twistable, pushable, spinnable, squeezable trinkets and gadgets often used by kids with excess energy or people looking for simple, easy stress relief. But have you heard of fidget jewelry? Yes, jewelry—you might be surprised to learn that fidget-friendliness extends beyond toys. In short, fidget jewelry incorporates moving elements that can easily be pulled, spun, twisted or tinkered with. Common varieties include spinning rings or fidget necklaces with movable charms.
And for Michigan-based creator Nicole Hayden, a graphic designer by trade who makes and sells quirky, whimsical fidget earrings part-time on Etsy, fidget jewelry is about so much more than just eclectic style. Her online shop, known as SunPuddle Company, caters to neurodivergent customers—think: folks with ADHD, autism or other diagnoses involving neurological processes that differ from what's considered typical.
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Neurodivergence is an umbrella term for a spectrum of diagnoses and symptoms ranging from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) to dyslexia. The goal of fidget jewelry is to provide buyers with a discreet, wearable way to cope with sensory processing needs and relieve anxious energy.
Nicole's fidget jewelry journey is personal, as are many of her creative projects. She has always seen art as a platform for activism and social change—no matter how small the scale. Nicole, a type I diabetic who was diagnosed at age six, has even made earrings from her own empty insulin vials to spark a conversation about the skyrocketing cost of lifesaving diabetes treatments.
When it came to exploring her own neurodivergence and determining how to help others with similar challenges, she naturally turned to creativity. "When I learned that a piece of jewelry could be so helpful for people, I felt driven or called to see this idea through," she explained. So in September 2021, she launched her very own Etsy shop committed to designs that are intentionally both eye-catching and fidget-friendly. Today Nicole's shop features fidget earrings in a variety of shapes and colors, from tiny red mushrooms on pullable chains to natural amethyst on dangly earrings.
Despite this abundance of unique styles and designs, SunPuddle is just getting started. For the full scoop, we spoke with Nicole about how she's altering the jewelry scene, her pets (who might just be the true stars of the SunPuddle brand) and how she hopes to change the narrative around neurodivergence.
Have you always been a crafter?
NICOLE: I've always been artsy, and I went to school for graphic design, but the fidget jewelry is a new discovery and hobby. I have ADHD, and I always felt like I had a different way of thinking and doing things. It wasn't until the pandemic, though, that I started getting a lot of those feelings and realizations unblocked. And as I was exploring my own neurodivergence, I saw other creators posting about fidget jewelry online and felt inspired to make my own. So the jewelry-making itself is new, but it's given me a pathway back into my own creativity and "arting."
ADHD presents itself in so many different ways. What does it look like for you?
NICOLE: In my experience, it's not an "attention deficit" but an "attention overwhelm." I feel like I'm paying attention to every little detail all at once. As I looked further into ADHD during the early days of the pandemic, I started seeing overlaps everywhere. A lot of the symptoms of depression and anxiety, ADHD or autism can reflect and mimic and contribute to each other—then throw in trauma or another challenge and it's a whole new layer. Our brains are constantly creating different pathways.
One of the most common symptoms of ADHD is executive dysfunction, which I struggle with. It basically means there are so many things going on that you just kind of pause and don't do anything, and I noticed those signs in the way I cleaned my house, worked and operated in general.
NICOLE: Even though I did talk to a psychiatrist when I first suspected I might have ADHD, TikTok was a big source of discovery. It was so insightful to hear other people's experiences and find relatability—just everyday people who shared what they dealt with. For those who might not have the resources they need for an official diagnosis, social media can be really educational. It has helped me understand that other folks' ADHD looks different than mine.
In fact, a lot of women are diagnosed as neurodivergent later in life because the ADHD or autism just shows up differently. What I love, though, is that we're starting to see some of the stigma and stereotypes crumble and people are recognizing that neurodivergence is a true spectrum. Personally, I believe there are more neurodivergent people out there than neurotypical at this point in time.
Let’s talk more about your fidget jewelry. Where did the idea come from?
NICOLE: I've always been the type of person that's just radiating energy. I'm tapping my fingers. I'm clicking my pen. I'm bouncing my leg. And in a lot of typical public situations, that's distracting for people. The earrings really came out of nowhere—I came across a TikTok video about fidget earrings and I was like, "Oh, my God, I need those." I did some research and found out that fidget jewelry wasn't a new idea, so I felt inspired to make my own by taking a different direction and using fun materials. I wanted to kind of figure out the mechanics all by myself.
Some of Nicole's Favorite Neurodivergent Crafters
Looking to connect with other neurodivergent crafters or just learn more? Nicole filled us in on a few of her favorite artsy influencers who fall under the neurodivergence umbrella.
1. Mathew Boudreaux (@mxdomestic on TikTok): Mathew, who posts vibrant videos about everything from making crochet dolls to current events, regularly discusses their experiences as an "ADHD crafter." The content combines activism and education with humor and creativity—along with tips for fellow neurodivergent crafters who might struggle with focus during the DIY process.
2. Marisa-Rose (@blacklilyarts on TikTok): Marisa is a multimedia artist whose stunning creations range from custom-made drink tumblers to resin art to adorable earrings shaped like s'mores. She posts TikToks detailing her experiences as a crafter with ADHD alongside content about her family and ongoing projects.
3. Amber Lynn Hair (@genleeart on TikTok): If you love all things quirky and eclectic, Amber's creations will capture your heart. She's known for her whimsical and cheeky illustrations, stickers and prints—many of which feature cute creatures and downright hilarious slogans. Amber also posts content about how ADHD affects her creative process, for better or for worse.
Why is fidgeting so helpful for some neurodivergent people?
NICOLE: Well, fidgeting is a symptom of hyperactivity, but it also helps focus. It's easy to assume fidgeting would be distraction for the fidgeter, but there are actually studies showing that physical activity increases the level of neurotransmitters in the brain that are in charge of attention and focus. Also, having a mindless secondary task can help people focus on the main task at hand. It's such a small movement, but it can help so many different types of people. The earrings have even helped my mom stop biting her nails because it keeps her hands busy and distracts from anxiety.
NICOLE: For sure. When I was learning these things about ADHD and how small movements are important for focusing and limiting distraction, I was like, "This is the perfect thing for someone in school because it's so small, functional and discreet." Personally, I believe in letting people fidget, stim or move in any of the ways they need to, but I understand that it can be distracting because not everybody functions like that. I do think there needs to be more grace and more space for people to do what they need to do to function at their best.
Where did you come up with the name of your business, SunPuddle Company?
NICOLE: A sun puddle is the sun that's coming through a window and beaming into a "puddle" on the ground. When I came up with it, my husband and I had four cats and a dog who loved to sunbathe in the sun puddle by our big bay window. I thought it was so funny that this was a thing they all loved, and I just always caught them there, so that became the name and logo. I love my animals—I even use them as inspiration for my packaging.
Tell us about your process. Where do you get your quirky charms and supplies?
NICOLE: I get my supplies from small business owners on Etsy and, sometimes, bigger craft stores. The goal is to find materials that are cute, fun, unique and durable since the beads rub together. I also like the meaning and metaphysical qualities associated with certain crystals or gemstones: For example, rose quartz is said to promote love and healing relationships, while tiger's eye is believed to boost self-esteem and confidence! Black lava stone beads are some of my favorites because they're porous, so I'll add a drop of essential oils that will make them smell really nice. Most of my earring hoops and hooks come from a shop on Etsy called dshejewelrymetal because they're hypoallergenic. I try to shop small as much as I can financially—but I really want to make my own beads eventually.
Did you encounter any challenges when you started selling your fidget jewelry online?
NICOLE: Honestly, something I still haven't completely worked out is price and time. I'm really not driven by money for this project. I would rather have energy transactions and send you a pair of earrings because it's going to make you happy. I want to make something for you because you need it, it'll help you and helping you makes me happy. So I've always wanted my jewelry to be affordable for people, and I don't want price to scare anybody away.
What about your ADHD? Does that come into play when you’re crafting or making your jewelry?
NICOLE: For my crafting and art process, I tend to want to go all in. But on the flip side of that, I can have so many different ideas at once and the possibilities are endless. It's the number of creative possibilities that make me short-circuit. But I find that tasks, from cleaning to making my jewelry, are less overwhelming when I break them up into bite-size pieces. It makes things feel a lot more tolerable, manageable and doable. This approach has helped a lot with my depression too. I'm at the point where I'm thinking, "Do I have depression? Or am I living in a world that just isn't catered to my way of thinking and doing things?"
What’s been the most surprising part of starting your small business?
NICOLE: The most surprising thing about the whole process is the reach the earrings have made. I didn't cater specifically to the United States, but I still wasn't prepared for sending earrings to Germany or Switzerland—it's really worldwide. I wasn't anticipating getting so many positive reviews without a lot of critique, which I'm totally open to. My family has been so supportive too. They all have a pair!
What’s next for SunPuddle? Do you see yourself expanding to in-person events or craft shows?
NICOLE: Yes, definitely. I worked at a shop in my hometown that helped me learn about setting up displays, getting packaging ready and those sorts of things—so now that I'm feeling more comfortable with the idea, it's something I might pursue. I also want to make a comfortable clip-on earring option and even start making my own designs with polymer clay because I think it could open up a world of possibilities for quirky jewelry that I'm not finding in stores right now.
NICOLE: I feel like there would be a lot more acceptance if we expanded the narrative about what ADHD, autism and neurodivergence are and what they look like. Just because someone isn't necessarily doing things the way you would or thinking the way you would, there's nothing wrong with them. They just have different pathways formed in their brain, and that's completely okay. I think the best thing we can do is to try and create a more inclusive world for those people versus exiling them.