Originally from Sweden, Nina Daniels is an artist living in Altrincham with her nine-year-old son, Lukas. Nina founded her homeware business NINA D in 2020, producing unique tableware inspired by her Swedish upbringing and family traditions.
Before launching her business, she had a successful career designing store layouts and window display concepts for luxury retail brands. She has continued her creative career freelance since moving from London to Worcestershire in 2008. Nina moved to Altrincham in 2017, and following a sudden bereavement in 2019, she was finding it difficult to balance childcare and employment, so she decided to start her own business. We caught up with the EnterprisingYou client to find out more about her journey.
Tell us about yourself and your business.
I began creating designs for tableware, drawing upon my background in Theatre Design and Illustration. My artwork is always produced by hand using watercolours, and I add depth by layering to create a striking two-dimensional effect. I have not tweaked my artwork once with a computer.
The 'lightbulb' moment came when I visited my favourite boutique in Stockholm to replenish my placemats. I suddenly thought, "I can make a business creating these myself!". I first launched a capsule collection of placemats and coasters before producing the designs on Swedish birch trays. Then I introduced handmade table linen in matching colours to complete the range of NINA D. My designs are inspired by a place or a person close to my heart back home in Sweden. Working with high-quality manufacturers to maintain the hand-created details of my work, I take great pride in knowing that the materials and processes used are sustainable.
What challenges have you been through, and how did you turn it around?
I launched immediately before the pandemic, so I had to adapt to lockdowns and restrictions quickly. Using my previous professional career in luxury retail, I identified a bespoke service sending beautifully gift-wrapped orders with personal handwritten greetings. As families and friends were not able to meet in person, I wanted to make it as easy as possible to give a gift. My free gift-wrapping service has proved so popular that I continue to post gift-wrapped orders for weddings, new home celebrations and birthdays.
How did you hear about EnterprisingYou, and what do you think about coming on the programme?
In March 2020, when we suddenly had to adapt to staying and working from home, I was recommended a 12-week online course for women in Trafford to start their own businesses. The programme was called "Creative Passions into Self Employment" and was founded by Bridgette Doyle and Mumba Kafula. I continued to keep in touch with Bridgette, and she recommended EnterprisingYou to me as a next step to further grow my business.
EnterprisingYou worked so well for me as a full-time single parent. I met with my coach once a month online, and we reviewed the past month and planned for the month ahead. We looked together at the training courses on the portal, identifying the support I needed the most. Courses were easy to book on, and each training session wasn’t lengthy or took a whole day. They were realistically timed, so it works for parents who, for example, need to collect their children from school. If I ever struggled, I could reach out and instantly receive support from the EnterprisingYou team, making sure I didn’t miss any training.
I found the training course in PR and pitching to the press was beneficial to my business. I had several sessions with a journalist where I learnt how to communicate with journalists and editors - thinking outside the box in terms of marketing your brand/business and emphasising your USP.
How was your experience working with one of our business coaches?
I was on the programme during lockdown, so my meetings were held online once a month. My coach was really supportive, adapting to my busy schedule as a full-time parent, juggling business, homeschooling and school holidays. At the start of the programme, we assessed how I was doing with my sales and finances, as well as my personal health and wellbeing. We set out a clear plan of action for the duration of the programme, which was then broken down into monthly targets.
I attended several business training courses, and the pace of these sessions worked within my daily schedule, so I never felt overwhelmed. I started to see the positive progress and my business moving forward in the right direction.
Has your business changed because of the programme?
After completing the EnterprisingYou programme in November 2021, I saw significant progress in terms of sales and publicity at the start of 2022. As I have increased my confidence in approaching the press and media, I am now securing more press coverage. I have also been asked to speak at events, sharing my start-up journey and inspiration behind NINA D. In March this year, I was invited to present my personal story and how I founded my business. This opportunity was at a Trafford Business Start-Up Event for International Women's Day, arranged by Trafford Council and Bridgette Doyle. This was my first public speaking event and a fantastic experience.
In May this year, I held my first Pop Up Event in Altrincham along with two local independent businesses. Meeting customers face-to-face and hearing feedback on my unique tableware collections was incredibly rewarding. My business is moving forward at the pace I had hoped for during my time on the programme. I am increasing sales and gaining more recognition and brand awareness not only regionally but nationally.
What does the future hold for the business?
I am thrilled to have my tableware in independent homeware stores not only in the UK but also in Ireland, Switzerland and the USA. I will be trading at the highly regarded Home & Gift Buyers Festival in Harrogate from 17-20 July. This year I also launched my seventh design called Gotland, inspired by Sweden’s largest island and the limestone rock formations along the coastline.
You can find out more about Nina and her business here:
- Website: NINA D
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ninadillustrationheminspiration
- Instagram: @illustrationheminspiration
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nina-d-81933840/