I find that seeking inspiration can be hard to maintain at times and being an entrepreneur gets lonely… Especially when you’re just starting out! I chatted to a couple of my favorite entrepreneurs and I'm so excited about this series, these ladies have inspired me a great deal and I just know they will inspire you too.
First up is the lovely Nina Clark, I asked her to tell us a bit about her journey and you're in for a treat, she's a brilliant writer too!
I am a born and bred Pretoria girl, but Cape Town stole my heart when I studied at UCT, and I later moved to the Mother City for a few years before settling down in London.
I studied a Business Science Marketing & Economics and started my career at Procter & Gamble in Joburg, working on big global brands such as Gillette, Old Spice, Oral B and Always. I managed every brand’s TV campaigns, Print advertorials, PR strategy, in-store promotions, social media strategies, you name it.
From there, I moved to Cape Town- got married, moved into what is to this day my favourite place on earth: our flat in Sea Point, and kicked off my 2-year stint at Bos Ice Tea where I focused mainly on trade marketing.
Pete and I decided to move to London to make the most of travelling (which we do- the amount of Starbucks mugs in our kitchen cupboards bought at all the cities we have visited in the past two years, are testament to that!!), get great work experience in the most globalised city in the world, and just generally embark on an adventure.
I worked at a fantastic little soft drinks company when we first moved to London (where, among other things, I managed the partnership with the brand and BFC London Fashion Week) but after it went belly-up quite suddenly, I decided this is the time to do my own thing. I’ve put a little blurb about Nightire here which tells the rest of the story:
Nightire was born out of a personal quest to understand sleep, and all that it entails, a bit better. Like many women I know, I have this thing called can’t-always-shut-my-brain-off-to-go-to-sleep syndrome. I overthink everything and am that person who constantly makes lists in my head and who worries about things that I can't change; all while lying in bed at night waiting for sleep to set in. This led to my years of insomnia. I began doing research into what could help a person sleep better and tried to apply it in my nightly routine: using black-out blinds, taking a relaxing bath, using no screens in the room (i.e. goodbye to Insta-sessions right before bed), and trying anything I could to keep my body temperature on an even keel. That included buying the right sleepwear, which, in turn, got me to focus on an industry that seemed like it had a lot of room for innovation (and a bit more personality) which is how the idea for Nightire came about. And now I sleep like a baby:)
Jess: Building a business is so tough. How do you stay motivated?
Nina: Working for oneself is actually the most motivating situation anyone can ask for, in my opinion. No-one is going to do anything for you- the buck stops with you so not giving your all is not an option as you are just shooting yourself in the foot.
I also think it’s so important to really believe in your WHY, and the ‘why’ has to be something other than money or recognition or success, because on the bad days, when there aren’t any of these factors to keep you going, you need that WHY to keep you motivated.
J: What’s your favorite thing about being an entrepreneur in London and why?
N: London is the MOST incredible city for entrepreneurs. I don’t frequent them as much anymore (because I hope I’ve now learnt enough) but you can literally go to a masterclass/ free lecture/ networking session/ workshop every day of the week if you want. There is so much opportunity for an entrepreneur to get help from government institutions as well- free helplines and forums and trade advisors who you can literally call whenever or ask for a coffee to sit down and discuss burning questions that you might have on tax, exporting, website do’s and don’ts, you name it. It’s also a city bursting with young entrepreneurs, so while you’re just sitting in a coffee shop on any given day, you might make some worthy contacts just by being friendly to the person sitting next to you. The contacts you can make here are so valuable, and I’m often surprised (in such a big, busy city) how many kind people there are that are willing to share their expertise with a small start-up like me.
J: What’s your biggest piece of marketing advice for young entrepreneurs starting a small business?
N: If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. When things feel impossibly hard, remember that it’s supposed to be a challenge, and relish that fact- that you are lucky enough to be in a situation where you can work on your passion project, you can build something for yourself where the pay check at the end of the month comes only from your hard work and perseverance. People have done it before you with much less resources and support, and have made multi million dollar empires out of that, so there’s nothing stopping you.
When it all feels a bit much, because your brand can feel like your baby and it sometimes consumes you, chill, go to sleep, and tomorrow all will be better.
However, if you don’t know where to start, or just need some help down the line to get your brand vision back on track, get in touch with me:) I’m currently offering my services to small businesses on the marketing & branding front, where I will put together a brand strategy for your product. This will include everything from creating a solid vision and mission, to hashing out the brand identity, target market, product definitions (what value does your service or product add), and what marketing touchpoints are necessary to get your brand message out there.
J: I love your style so much, what’s your favorite thing to wear in Spring?
N: Thank you! 3/4, flowy skirts that cinch in at the waist and come down to mid-calf. It’s old-school elegance at it’s best, and perfect for the dodgy UK weather, where you really can experience 4 seasons in one day!
J: What is your go-to source of inspiration or do you have many?
N: I’ve got many, but mostly it’s just being around people (loooove people-watching too much). People are why we do what we do (create services and products to serve them), so we need to understand their needs, their routines, their likes & dislikes and what makes them tick.
Thanks so much Nina for your time and sharing a little of your story with us. Find her website here.
Sharing more #entrepreneurswelove soon.
Top image by Nadia Meli