By Kate Marsden
This week we’re heading to Essex to experience the fun and colourful world of Artist and Illustrator Nikki Miles. Read on to hear all about Nikki’s super busy life and why she thinks the Just A Card campaign is so important.
Tell us a little about you. What do you do?
I’m Nikki and I love painting and making weird cute cards, prints, jewellery and accessories. I started making cards and jewellery after I graduated from my BA (hons) Graphic Design & Illustration degree in 2012. I first attempted to sell my cards at an art exhibition and to my surprise they all sold out at the private view. This is why I opened an Etsy shop and I've never looked back since! I have been lucky enough to have my designs stocked in boutiques, galleries and larger retailers such as Paperchase and Scribbler.
What does a typical day involve?
At the moment I run my business around a full time digital marketing job, which equals a lot of early mornings and late nights! Typically, the day starts with an early commute, I work 9 till 5 in the day and then during the evenings and weekends I concentrate on my business. I spend a lot of my spare time packing shop orders, developing new products, fulfilling commissions, answering emails, blogging and working on social media.
Where do you work? What is your studio space like? What do you enjoy doing when you're not working?
Everything I make is designed at my home studio in Waltham Abbey, Essex (a teeny tiny town near London). My boyfriend is a printmaker so we decided to convert the spare room in our flat into a studio to share. It’s a fun room filled with colour, inspiration and clutter!
When I’m not working I like watching The Walking Dead, collecting old tat from charity shops and car boot sales, drawing, taking pictures, eating pizza, playing video games, and going for walks in Epping Forest (near where I live).
What do you consider to be the main challenges facing designer makers at the moment?
I think the market is saturated, it’s particularly challenging to sell greetings cards and prints because there is so much competition. This is made even harder by large retailers selling goods at a low price that small independent businesses cannot match.
What ambitions do you have for your business over the next few years?
I would love to be able to spend more time growing my business and have a healthier work / life balance. Also I have exciting plans to design a new website and expand my range of products.
Do you have any tips for fellow designer makers/ small business owners who are reading this and may be just starting out?
Just do what you love and be yourself no matter what! There will be days where you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing or just can’t figure stuff out but that’s ok. Let those negative thoughts go and keep going - most importantly enjoy your work.
Please share any favourite independent shops/galleries and tell us why you like them.
I have so many favourite makers, I can’t list them all but here are a few!
Had you realised the Just A Card campaign message suggests cards as an example of a small purchase - we're about encouraging all sales as they keep businesses afloat?
Small sales add up and they are critical to the success of any small business. A card is the perfect example of a small purchase and the campaign does a great job reminding people to support artists and designer makers.
How important is the Just A Card campaign message to you and your business?
The campaign is really important to my business because it encourages people to support my work. I am really grateful for this because with every sale my confidence grows and it means that I can continue doing something I love.
Where did you hear about the campaign and which Social Media platforms do you use most frequently? What do you think people can do to support Just A Card, and how will you be doing so?
I became aware of the campaign through Twitter. Using social media has been a fun and amazing tool to grow my audience. I have made lots of friends and been overwhelmed by all the support I have received from the creative community, especially on Instagram. I often retweet Just A Card on Twitter and it would be great if others could do the same!