local yokal : Nellie Design

Source: etsy.com via Jennifer on Pinterest

This week is all about holiday gift ideas and what better way to start than with a classy lady who makes it all happen in celebrated style.

Nellie Leis of NellieDesign specializes in making parties look put together. I've had the pleasure of attending one recently for her son's 3rd birthday, and I was impressed with every detai--from the goodie bags for each child (by name!) which included a train whistle, crayons, and playdoh--to the ease with which she decorates the entire space. She thinks of everything from water bottles to string ties to non-labeled decor, and it all comes together for the most cohesive, celebratory style.

If you're looking for added oomp this holiday season, NellieDesign is the place to start!

thn: Tell us about your aesthetic. 
ND: Nellie*Design's aesthetic is very simple, clean & nautical-inspired. I move with the trends and {hope to} stay contemporary, but have always loved the classic simplicity that nautical / coastal design embodies. Not all of my designs are nautical though! I provide many custom designs for client's seeking different styles, like a rustic-chíc "camping party" or a retro 80's birthday party! 

thn: If we were to walk through your front door today, what would we see that would be unmistakably Nellie Design?
ND: Stripes, Chevron, Polkadots, a simple serif font and a single motif/graphic. 

thn: Ah, I love stripes, too! So where do you draw your creative inspiration?
ND: I find inspiration from fashion and interior design {for things like patterns & color trends}, pinterest and etsy {for scoping out the competition and to be ever blown away by other's creativity}, martha-freaking-stewart and other inspirational DIY women like her {to motivate myself to be like them}, and from other designers and artists that I admire. 

thn: What role does your husband play in your creative work? And your children?
ND: My husband is really great with marketing! He's a salesman, so helps me a lot when I'm doing freelance projects for the business world. Sometimes I can get caught in my boutique-style {okay, you can call it "cutesy"}, so he helps redirect me when I'm working on corporate design. His ideas sometimes surprise me and a LOT of them have been the ideas that end up getting chosen. The role my children play{ed} in my creative work has actually been a game changer for me… I began nellie*design because of them! I became a stay-at-home-mom when I had my first child, but knew that I couldn't be "just a mom" {even though that is a full time job in itself!} and that I had to continue being creative. So, I started my at-home design business. It initially started with wedding invitations, personalized stationery, moving announcements, holiday cards, etc. But, once that big, beautiful, baby boy arrived {and my world changed} my designs shifted. I began my printable party designs, birth announcements and onesie stickers! Having children influences what kind of product I now make! Basically, now, I'm always creating designs that I think would be great for my own children!

Source: etsy.com via Jennifer on Pinterest

thn: Do you have a favorite project, and if so, what was it? 
ND: I really enjoyed working on my sis-in-law's wedding stationery items. From her save the date postcard and invitation suite, to favor tags and ceremony programs, I designed, printed and assembled {with the help of a family assembly party!} everything! This isn't something offered in my Etsy Shop, but is a service I offer. Outside of my boutique Etsy Shop, I provide custom designs, such as wedding stationery or corporate branding!

thn: How did you start your online business?
ND: I opened up an Etsy Shop page first and then started my blog to help promote it. I wouldn't consider myself a "blogger", but find that having a blog has been a great way to bring traffic to my business.

thn: How did you learn your graphic art?
ND: I had my first encounter with graphic designers as a young girl visiting my dad's art studio. My dad was a freelance illustrator, and in the same studio he worked, was a graphic design firm. I truly had no idea what they did, but I could just tell that they were cool! ;) I later went to the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee to receive my bachelor degree in Graphic Design. 

thn: Where would you like to see Nellie Design in five years? Ten years? What would be your big dream for the business?
ND: In 5 years, I see my business staying steady. I'm doing this as a side gig to my full time job as a stay-at-home-mama, so my first priority are my kiddos. I mean, who doesn't want their business to explode and "hit it big", but honestly, I just want my business to stay manageable and enjoyable. In this amazing period of my life, with very young children, I want to stay present in their lives and enjoy every minute of it. I am blessed to be able to do that, while still being able to be creative "on the side" for a while. BUT… in 10 years… I hope to be doing my business full time from home, making a steady and supporting income from it, blogging full time, and creating many more items to sell in my shop! 

thn: How do you balance working from home and living there?
ND: This is an extremely hard balance for me, that I work on daily! But, on a good day, I try to do all my work while the kids are napping and after they go to sleep. {I try my hardest to NOT answer emails or do design work while I'm with the kids!}. I have made it known in my shop's policies that my turn-around is 48+ hours, and that I don't work regular business hours. The line gets crossed often between home & home-office. I catch myself on the computer looking up "Betty Brinn Children Museum Hours" and then 30 minutes later realize I've been responding to Etsy Orders the entire time. So, I am constantly working on making being a mama my number 1 priority, while maintaining a quality business at the same time!

Source: etsy.com via Jennifer on Pinterest

thn: If you could purchase 3 things from your shop today, what would they be and why?
ND: 1. Chevron "we've dropped anchor" Moving Announcement - I love everything about it; chevron pattern, red anchor, navy serif font… all my favorite things in one little package. 
2. Seersucker Alligator Onesie Sticker & Stationery - I think this is a design that screams nellie*design; everything about it embodies my aesthetic.
3. Burlap & Fushia Camping Party Invite & Decor Printables - Man, do I love the combo of the bright fushia on a rustic burlap background! Gone are the days of pretty pretty princesses! Bring on the rustic, self-sufficient, not scared of a little dirt, Camping Girls! ;)

thn: How do you make your house a home?
ND: There's no place like home. And I definitely feel that way toward my home. To make my house a home, I have decorated it to my style {nautical, pottery-barn-on-the-cheap, cozy}, I don't keep things too stuffy {big comfy couch that swallows you up, not so clean you're scared to spill, etc} and I display lots of family photos and family art pieces {my dad's paintings & now Fin's art!}.  Living in an OLD English Cottage style home, I think, automatically makes for a charming, cozy, comfortable home! 

thn: Say I'm preparing for an event and I want to contract with Nellie Design. What should I know before I approach you?
ND: Know what you want! You give me your direction and I'll run with it! If you're ordering a "printable" {pre-made} design, have all of your customized information ready. If you're working with me to create a custom design, let me know your style, colors you'd like, custom information and general "vision" for the design. From there, we'll work on completing the design through proofing to get exactly what you want!

thn: What would you suggest are the 3 most important steps in preparing a great event?
ND: First, I think choosing one thing {theme, color, etc} to tie in to all the paper pieces for the event. If you're having a nautical event, for example, use a nautical knot motif and have it on everything from the invite to the favor tags, menus, etc! This will tie everything in and make it feel consistent and planned. 

Second, have a budget. If you know how much you can spend, you will feel more in control {yes, even if it is a really small budget!}. Using your budget, begin to evaluate what is most important to YOU to prioritize where you want to spend more of your budget. {A little shameless self promotion here…} A great way to save money when preparing for an event, is to go the DIY route, and order "printable" party decor from designers like me! This is an entirely customizable option {rather than choosing decor from a party supply store, where thousands of others are using the same design} so you can have gorgeous paper pieces for your event, for a much more affordable price, at the cost of your time/energy to print/assemble everything on your own! 

And finally, make your guests feel special! Whether it's sending them off with a unique favor {a GOOD one, not a cheap bottle of plastic wedding bubbles!}, or having a "candy bar" where guest's can make a bag of goodies, of their choice, to go home with, or even, just having place cards at each place setting can make your guest's feel special! 

Thanks, Nellie! I can't wait until my kids are old enough to have a camping party so we can use those fabulous invitations!

Check out her shop here to get ready for the holidays (and you may catch a glimpse of her sweet kids).


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