Juggling part-time work, study, two businesses and a family, Nikki Farthing is a modern-day creative entrepreneur! Nikki’s love for design began at an early age, and she’s constantly evolving and adding to her range of equipment.
Need unique wedding stationery? No problem. Want a logo or design laser engraved on to timber? Done! Even hand painted signage isn’t an issue for this talented local designer. Nikki tells us more about her business, Niknee Designs …
How long have you lived and worked in the New England area?
I was born in Armidale and have lived in the area all of my life. I gained a signwriting apprenticeship after I finished my HSC and once I completed my trade certificate, I continued working as a signwriter up until just recently, before switching career paths – I’m currently completing my Floristry Certificate.
I love the New England area and have been so very lucky to have been able to stay close to family and friends, whilst working in the areas that I love.
How/when did your interest in design begin?
I guess … for as long as I can remember. I’ve always had a strong interest in design, art and creating. I have a creative mind and as a young girl, I would spend my weekends either in the art and craft box, or in the shed with dad making things!
I had a fantastic art teacher at school, who encouraged my art and design and helped me with direction on what and where to go once I had completed school. I think my mum was my biggest fan though, keeping EVERYTHING I ever drew or made (seriously!)
Starting your own business comes with its own share of challenges! What learning curves have you had thrown at you since you established Niknee Designs?
The biggest learning curve would be time management. As my husband has his own painting contracting business, we have a young family, and also studying in between my custom jobs and my part-time job – it can all be a bit of a juggle at times. I am a one woman show (apart from when I bombard Dad with timber to cut for me!) and I have had to learn to manage my time and also charge clients accordingly.
The majority of designers will nearly almost spend more time on a piece than what they are getting paid for. The correspondence between clients can be demanding, and then the social media presence these days is also a crucial part of any business, keeping people interested and also promoting new products and services you have.
I enjoy every aspect of my business and I appreciate each and every customer, but I also have to learn that I don’t need to buy every font ever made!
What types of services/products do you offer through Niknee Designs?
I have a wide range of products and services and as most pieces are custom orders, I do a lot of one-off products, which allows each piece to be customised and personalised.
I create anything from wedding stationery and wedding and event signage, nursery and kids’ room decor, hand painted traditional signwriting and logo design, including brochures and other promotional material. I have hand painted logos and designs on wine barrels, brick walls and more recently, the Herd Bar caravan – it’s great to see the art of traditional signwriting is still alive today.
With the newest addition to my business – a laser engraver, I have been able to expand my business further into laser cut pieces and engraved timber products.
Personalised cheeseboards have been a very popular gift this year, as well as cake toppers and my oversized rulers – which are a lot of fun!
I have always enjoyed creating pieces you can’t buy “off the shelf”; anything I make can be personalised, and it’s exciting to be able to offer unique handmade items to my clients.
I also have a small range of hire items for weddings and special events.
What/who inspires you creatively?
Fellow makers and other small business owners – the other mums and dads out there doing their “thing”, staying up until all hours, just so they can spend more time with their kids. I think the people and moments that happen around me are what inspires me, the trends that come and go, my clients – who are always asking me to create something new for them – and the demand for particular items that aren’t readily available.
The New England area is all about shopping local and shopping small, and that’s what I love and inspires me to keep doing what I do. I love working and using up every minute of the day, even if it means little sleep!
What skills/talents do you feel are necessary to be a good designer?
I guess every designer has their own style and personality to inject into their work; it’s hard to say what is “good” or “bad” design, as everyone interprets work and design differently. I think if it works for your client, then that’s all that matters … and remember, less is more!
What are some items you’ve designed in recent times you’re especially proud of?
There’s nothing in particular, as I’m proud of everything I create and design. I’ve been involved in many projects around town, and I still get a buzz when I see something I’ve designed – whether it be a logo or print material for local companies. I still really enjoy picking up the brushes, and I’ve been super busy creating personalised pieces leading up to Christmas (just ask my husband what it’s like to eat dinner amongst paint and glue on the dining room table!)
With wedding season in full swing, I’m busy with brides and their plans for their big day; I feel honoured to work together for such an important time in their lives.
Where can we find out more about what you do?
You can check out my Facebook and Instagram accounts. I have been working on launching my new website in 2019, which I am super excited about, and I have a few new items I will be releasing next year also.
Interview: Jo Robinson.