Marie-Nicole is a dedicated young mum, and a great business woman too. She understands what she wants in her business lifestyle and is very clear with her “DPP” (Desire, Passion & Purpose). One aspect I really admire Marie-Nicole is her priority in life. It is evidently cleared that she won’t compromise when it comes to her “family”. They are always come first on the priority list. Therefore, She has created a business that works for her family and their lifestyle.
Her beautiful handmade products are designed and made with integrity and with a big focus on being Eco-friendly. Marie-Nicole loves nature fabrics, her signature (USP) is the usage of 100% Linen. Her products are screen printed in vibrant colours. All the designs are hand sketched, stencils are hand cut and then printed using eco-friendly print paste. All her creations are one of the kind, you never find two of the same which mean her products are unique and special.
Tell us a little about you self and what you do.
I am a mother of two adorable boys a wife to a wonderful husband, an artist & a designer, and an individual who dreams big dreams but enjoys little things. Designing and making ‘beautiful products for everyday living’ is what I do, as I am a big believer in living for today not just tomorrow. About three years ago I decided to take a hiatus from my previous career as a professional photographer in order to hone in on what my core values were and how my career could fit in around these. Which is what lead me to work with textiles, sewing has been a part of my life and a passion of mine for a very long time, as has drawing and photographing. Printing was a subject I thoroughly enjoyed when I did my Visual Communications degree and my passion for old furniture, breathing new life into it through new upholstery and finishes is what started me on trying to tie in all my skills and interests into the one career. This really is just the beginning of a lifetime of learning new skills, mastering old ones and embracing new opportunities.
Who (or what) inspires you to do what you love in your own creative business?
The lifestyle that we as a family lead gives me the greatest inspiration. We all enjoy a meal shared with the great company in a comfortable welcoming environment. So creating products that add to the atmosphere of our everyday lives is a big part of what I enjoy doing.
Where do you get your inspiration from when you design/paint?
My inspiration comes from emotions from within, fabric textures, conversations had, and problems solving of everyday activities… there are so many inspirations for my designs. When working on my ironwork series I would just sit and sketch in a way that replicated what I was feeling at that time. These designs are complex and at times chaotic but always have a sense of rhythm and repetition, which is often much like the thoughts that flow through my mind and the activities of my life.
What are the five words that people who know you would use to describe you?
Organised. Creative. Energetic. Empathetic. Driven.
Tell us about your very first job and what path have you taken since then?
Well, my first paid job was writing in calligraphy the window cards for a real estate agent my father worked for. This was before the time of computers being used for almost everything… I was in high school at the time. After high school I took a job as an accounts clerk and receptionist, the office manager was a family friend and she trained me on the job. During these two years I went to night school studying photography and advertising. After that, I went into full time tertiary education and started my degree doing a BA in Visual Arts & Design. After being told by many lecturers that I would make a great teacher I decided to overload on subjects and change my degree to a BEd with a double major in Visual Arts & Design. In the fourth year of my degree I got married and started a photography business. The plan was to defer for a year, as I was not really sure I liked teaching. At this point I was given the opportunity to teach for two full terms covering for teachers that had gone on long service leave, while I did this I continued building my photography business. It was great, as it confirmed for me I really wanted to be working in the field not talking about it to high school students.
So, I continued on building my business and 9 years later went back to finish my degree, but as a BA of Visual Communications, still a double major in Visual Arts and Design. My industry experience meant that I could just be credited another two subjects and just graduate, but I really wanted to attend classes and learn something new so I did a studio subject and focused on photography as a fine art, working on a photographic series and a coffee table book entitled ‘The forgotten laneways of Sydney’. Through out this final part of my degree I fell pregnant with our second child (Oh, I did not mention 5 years earlier I had our first child while running the photography business full time). With a very large gap between child no. 1 & 2, I decided to reassess things and find a career path that fitted in with our family’s lifestyle rather than trying to fit our family’s lifestyle around my career… so this how I got to where I am today, designing and making little works of art to add to the atmosphere of our everyday lives.
Describe a typical day in your studio space?
Um, honestly there is no such thing as a typical day when you have a young family. Everyday brings about it’s own new set of challenges. But on average this is how it works, if we are home for the day… we hit the ground running at day break, get hubby and no.1 off to work and school, we sometimes we drive by the beach go for a bit of a walk, collect our snail mail from the post office and then head back to home base. When we get back I whiz around the house cleaning up after the madness of the morning, while No. 2 plays around me. I check and respond to important emails and blog posts and flag emails that can wait for later, and open blogs posts that I wish to read later. No. 2 and have morning tea, some playtime or we read books together and then we eat lunch and prepare him for his midday sleep.
At the moment I only have one full day scheduled for work and that is Sunday, my family is still around so it is not always uninterrupted work time but it does give me several hours of work time in one day, which is great.
As a solo artist/designer, what is your biggest frustration?
I’d have to say the regular feeling of not having enough time to do what I set out to achieve, and being one person wearing so many hats. I know that will not be forever, but having a 2 ½ year old at home with me full time is what eats up a lot of my time, but I would not change that for the world our time together is so precious and limited. Having an older child at school makes me well and truly aware of the fact that it’s not forever. As for the wearing of several hats, I know that will not be forever too, there are some hats that I will hand over to someone else to wear as soon as it’s viable… but for now I just have to do what I can to manage each aspect of running a micro business.
Tell us about how you prioritise your studio work.
Being a creative person it can be easy to only want to do what you enjoy all the time, but I am well and truly aware that there are just some times that you just have to do what ‘needs’ to be done. It helps that I am quite organised and disciplined, so I do schedule out my goals and time line what I want to achieve and by when. In saying that though there are days when if my mood just means I am rushing through something in order to just get it done and in turn I make several mistakes I opt to cease what I am doing and move onto something that is more fitting for my mood. With allowing myself such limited time to dedicate to my work, choosing to have my little one with me at home fulltime this does sometimes mean the need to a reassess whether or not I will be able to meet a deadline… usually I am able to catch up within a reasonable time frame.
Since you are working at home, can you please tell us about how do you connect with other artists, and your customers (i.e. how do you network)?
Whenever possible I like to attend events, like the recent ‘meet the designer’ event at Canberra’s Shop Handmade store. It was important to me that I get the opportunity to meet some of the other designers displaying their wares there as well as meet customers and see how they reacted and interacted with my products on display in the store.
I also like to attend workshops, seminars, trade shows, exhibition openings, interacting on blogs and forums. Anything that not only stimulates my mind but gives me an opportunity to meet other people in my industry is worth attending.
Aside from all this though, I think that it very important to have real flesh and blood friends, people that you can draw inspiration from and engage with that have nothing to do with your career or industry but are just purely friends. I am very blessed with a very diverse network of friends, some who have never met each other but all add to the variety of my life.
Tell us how do you manage to working on your business and looking after your family as the same time?
I schedule the days of the week into categories. This allows me to plan tasks better. So for example Wednesday is my favourite day of all, it’s my creative day. This is a day that I do all the things that I love to do most like design new products and motifs, hand cut stencils, write marketing material, basically it’s playtime for me. Sunday and Monday afternoon at the moment (until no. 2 goes to day care) are production days, so this is when I print, sew and assemble products. Days like Monday, Tuesday & Thursday get split into half, half the day is dedicated to family tasks, housework, paying bills and social outings and the other half for business administration and other business related tasks. One day a month I have ‘business money day’ where I update my spreadsheets, pay myself, plan for future financial commitments etc. Friday’s are fairly flexible, sometimes I spend the entire day out and about with no. 2 other times I catch up on work from that week.
Saturday’s are our sacred family day, we catch up with friends, head down to the city for the day or go on drives in the countryside.
It all sounds very scripted when I write it down like this… the key for me being able to run a business and enjoy family time is being flexible, there are some days where all my well laid out plans just get tossed out the window because I have a sick child to care for, an excursion with the school to go to etc… life with young children is unpredictable, but most rewarding!
What advice can you offer other creative people and particularly creative mums who are just starting out and following their passions?
What dreams do you still want to achieve or fulfil in your life?
Buying our own home in the country, on land, lots of land… with a creek and uninterrupted views as far as the eye can see. Peace & serenity.
What is your proudest moment so far?
Finding a man that I knew soon after meeting that I wanted to share my journey through life with and with him giving life to two beautiful boys.
Who do you most want to meet and why?
My future grandchildren, I think being a grandparent would be so much fun… telling them all the stories about their parents up bringing.
What is the most important lesson in life that you have learned?
Be true to yourself. I know this sounds a bit cliché, but it rings bells within me when I think about this as I have discovered through out my journey through life so far that if it did not feel right in my heart then I found out the hard way that it really was not meant for me, so even if it means going against the grain it is crucial that I always stay true to myself.
What book are you reading right now, and do you have a book you would like to recommend?
I have not started it yet, as I am waiting for my husband to finish it. The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran From what I understand of this book, even though it is very short you really do need to take in each passage one at a time, in order to appreciate it’s value.
As for a recommendation: ‘Eat Pray Love’ by Elizabeth Gilbert. For those who have not read it, it’s a great book about one woman’s quest for self-discovery.