Well hello there!
Today I’m bringing Nicole over for a chat. I met Nicole on Twitter about a year ago and we just hit it off. She is such a sweet and personable designer whom I hope to meet in person one day.
Nicole is the owner and illustrator behind the Nic Studio based in Brookly, NY that specializes in stationery featuring her own designs. So if you’re in the market for a unique wedding invitation, she’s your gal!
Hey Nic! Tell us about your business.
My company is called The Nic Studio. I do both illustration and stationery, but mostly a combination of the two! My main goal is to ensure the audience feels a connection to my work. I think paper products can and should be very personal, whether it’s custom or ready-to-order/retail. You can find my stationery in stores across the country, on my website, and on my DearNic Etsy site.
How have you grown your business from an idea to where it is now?
When I first started to do stationery, it was for some friends and then a few word-of-mouth clients. I basically did what my clients asked of me, and my stationery was very diverse in feel and style. Things went well, my business grew, but something still felt a bit off. I was enjoying what I did, but artwork was missing from the equation — a big problem for someone who majored in illustration in college. When the economy collapsed in 2009, I knew I had to refocus my business to stay afloat, and so I decided to devote all of my energies into using my own illustrations for my stationery. It was a somewhat risky move — custom illustrations cost more, they’re more quirky, I was less broad-market and more niche as a result. But it paid off and I’m now doing better than ever, with 98% of my products illustrated by me (custom and ready-to-order). It makes me insanely happy.
I started my business after being laid off from my previous senior designer position at a publication (which folded). I had just gotten married and was taking on a lot of freelance work for various wedding clients, so I decided just to jump in with both feet and see what happened. The day after I was laid off, I had a website purchased and all systems were go. Definitely baptism by fire. Thank god I had/have a supportive husband who is 100% behind me and behind my work, or else I’m not sure I would have been able to do it.
Where do you draw your inspiration from and how do you apply it to your business?
Life. As an illustrator, my favorite subject is always people. I love portraits, I love the visual narrative of someone’s face — how personality can shine through in the tiniest wrinkle or look in their eyes. So when I do my stationery work, I try to keep that spirit alive. I try to display my clients’ personalities, their life or relationship story, everything that I can possibly say in a drawing so that it really grabs the recipient’s attention. In my note cards and occasion cards, I try to do something similar — illustrate moments in life, little moments, that speak volumes. I try not to use too much in the way of text or type, but rather let the images speak for themselves. Some are sad, many are funny, several can have a few different interpretations. But I hope that my buyers and clients feel something in my work. That’s my constant goal.
Ha! Well, I’m a work-at-home mom of a 2.5 year old girl, Anna Jae. I don’t have an office, my desk is in our living space. During the day I like to say that I “pretend to work,” which basically means I answer emails or do research or gather things — you know, whatever she’ll let me do uninterrupted, which isn’t much. When she goes to bed is when my real work day begins. At my busy times, I’m usually up from 8pm to 3am working. My wonderful husband gets up with our daughter at 6:30 to start the day, I roll out of bed around 7:30 or 8, and we begin all over again. It’s not easy, but a lot of work-at-home moms have the same schedule. I’m grateful to be able to do both, even if I do need lots of coffee to do it.
Name 3 interesting facts many people don’t know about you.
1. I was an art history minor, and always wanted to go back for a masters in art history. Maybe one day we’ll move back to Italy and do that.
2. I can swing dance, and actually was a teaching assistant for a social dance class in college. Though I haven’t done it in about 4 years. Oh honey…
3. I am a natural blond, and I’ve been dying my hair red for over 11 years. 3 years ago I started using henna. It’s all natural, better for the environment, better for my hair, and better for my daughter (no fumes to be around). And it’s cheap! Natural mehndi henna from the store down the street from me (I live in a very diverse neighborhood) costs $2 for a box that can do 2 or 3 dyes! It’s messy as hell, smells like hay, and takes forever to do (4 hours), but it’s so worth it.
Editors note: Thanks Nic for sharing! Hope to meet up soon!!