Like usual, it’s always motivating when I share the stories and testimonies of everyday people living out their dreams. Whether professional or up and coming, GaptoothDiva.com has the pleasure of meeting extremely unique and creative people daily. These individuals have created goals and aspiration to do what they truly love in life, and can attest to the common struggles and obstacles. It is through their experiences that we gain advice, learn from their mistakes, and celebrate in the idea that “nothing is impossible”.
Today, I wanted to share an interview with Nicole Lee of Nicole Lee Designs. I met Nicole at the Richmond Craft Mafia’s Spring Bada Bing, and was in love with her whimsical creations of clutches, pouches, pillows, and even precious rings and pins. Having earned her B.S. in Fashion Design, Nicole took a huge leap into entrepreneurship in 2003. Her humble demeanor and positive attitude is welcoming and inviting, which is why I immediately considered her for an interview. Her designs are bright colored and often containing prints. They are original and so cute for people of all ages. I especially love her blog (which I hope she post again soon) Crafty Ramble, where she talks about her love for linen and shares her crafty habits.
I asked what inspired her to start Nicole Lee Designs and what inspires each of her creations. She stated, “Having my own business was always the main goal from when I enrolled for my fashion degree. I’ve always admired and aspired to be like designers Vivienne Westwood, Betsy Johnson and Alabama Chanin who each have very distinctive styles and vision with their work.”
“I tend not to have a set inspiration for each design on their own. I can be easily swayed inspiration wise by a new fabric print or I’ll pick up some unusual trim and that will influence a design but overall I try to stay true to my love of classic styles with a bit of a twist.”
Playful happiness and serenity is the description that comes to mind when I think of Nicole Lee Designs. I wondered if she encountered struggle while running her business. I asked Nicole were there any obstacles she had to overcome to get where she is today. She replied, “My main obstacle is probably ongoing typical artist angst. Will people like what I make? Is this good enough, etc? It’s an ongoing thing but I just push through it. Sadly, it probably won’t go away unless I become massively rich by designing the next big thing, like Spanx or something. ” I laugh at this idea. If only we could, have whimsical printed style Spanx. Lol
Nicole described her favorite moments as the ones where she sees someone wearing or carrying her designs. Taking into consideration an appreciation of one’s own work, I could imagine that being everyone’s favorite moment as well.
So, what advice does Nicole have for up and coming crafter and designers similar to her? Nicole informed me…
“You have to work as hard as or harder than a regular job. Nothing happens overnight. Just like a regular 9 to 5, you have to put the time in to see results. Nevertheless, the upside is you reap all the benefits and can set your own schedule. Also, do your homework on starting and running a business. There are many good places to find information on starting a craft business. Some of my favorites is an online forum called The Switchboards (http://www.theswitchboards.com), Craft Inc. and Craft Inc. Business Planner books are specifically for fashion designers, and The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Sewn Product Manufacturing. Ultimately, my main advice is find your niche, whatever it is and Work It!”
Great advice, Nicole.
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