We had the good fortune of connecting with Nikki Hess and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nikki, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
To be candid, I think I would lose my mind working for someone else. I like being my own boss and I knew at a very young age that I needed that to be my reality one day. What really pushed me over the edge was working at a few advertising agencies where my mental health was really challenged. It was then that I decided I wanted to have my own business, I just had no idea what it would look like at the time. When I started calligraphy in 2016 I thought to myself “Maybe I can make a business out of this”. I slowly started to post my work on instagram and had friends and family reach out to me for artwork – pretty soon the machine was running and my business was in full swing (well that’s the very short version of it haha).
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I LOVE to create… ok that might be obvious but it lights me up inside. I’m really proud of my progress with calligraphy and watercolor artwork – it took years of practice to get where I am today. The road to where I am today was not easy (I mean of course not right? Anything good in life takes some hard work!). I graduated with my Masters in 2013 and started applying to jobs like crazy. I ended up spending 4 years in advertising. My first job was one of the most challenging jobs I have ever had – not because the work was hard perse but because the work environment was toxic. I turned into someone I didn’t recognize – really negative and unhappy, the total opposite of who I am. I quit that job in hopes of finding a more healthy work environment, only to find out that the advertising world as a whole is quite toxic. However, during this time I went back to creating while at home and rekindled a passion for art that I have always had. I knew I wanted to make art my career but I didn’t know how. Fast forward to 2017 when my husband and I got married… I learned calligraphy to do all our wedding signage and pretty soon friends were asking me to create signs for their weddings. Then I started an instagram and posted my work and it kind of just took off! There’s lots more to the story but in short, I just kept at it. I didn’t give up. I reached out to people in the industry, I did whatever I could to get my name out there. Not in a self serving way but in an effort to offer something valuable to people.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
San Diego is beautiful! If a friend was visiting I would definitely take them down to La Jolla Shores for paddle boarding, and then stop at Galaxy Tacos for some margaritas and delicious tacos (They make their own blue corn tortillas!). Then we’d head over the La Jolla Cove to go snorkeling and see the beautiful California state fish, the Garibaldi.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I am so thankful for all those who have poured into my life and given me the courage to venture out on my own. Of course my family and very supportive husband are at the top of the list but there have been so many who have encouraged me. One community in particular was the Coffee and Conversation groups hosted by Katie Saffert Owner of Hatched Collective in San Diego. It was a wonderful time to come together and talk with other liked minded individuals. It was a safe space to share our wins, struggles and self doubts. I’ll never forget introducing myself and saying “I want to start my own business” (I was already taking clients) and Katie said “Nikki, you DO have a business! Start saying that.” It was such a simple word of advice but it really changed my outlook. One book that rally had an impact on me was “You Are A Badass” by Jen Sincero. I listened to the book on my way out to a Zion camping trip and I believe it really changed myself and the trajectory of my business.
Jamie B Photos Great Woodland Photography Allie Marion Photography