Niccy Iseman is the founder of Type and Story, a contemporary paper goods brand inspired by storytelling. Niccy launched the small independent business earlier this year and since then, its first collection has received a wonderfully positive response from creatives everywhere. Each collection in Type & Story’s offering is based on a different theme.
It’s inaugural range, released for SS17, explored the lost art of sign-painting and showcased the calligraphic shapes found in old bespoke signs across beautiful products like jotters, prints and notecards. A talented designer by trade, I caught up with Niccy to find out what it’s like to start your own creative business, and why cherishing traditional craft to create something new is central to her newly-founded brand.
What inspired you to start Type & Story?
I started the business for two reasons. The first was lack of flexible working. For people that aren’t affected by this problem, it can be hard to conceive of the brick wall it presents for educated women in the creative industries who intend to continue their careers whilst starting a family. I found it impossible to get part time graphic design work that was of a decent standard without compromising my family life. I’ve never wanted to settle for work that doesnt mean anything to me or to work for people who don’t share the same creative outlook as me.
The second was that I have a real love affair with stationery, paper, typography and storytelling so it was inevitable that at some point in my life I would start my own business combining these things. I was using my spare time to learn and create things, do online courses, read WGSM relentlessly and generate ideas. I’m not one for the TV and couldn’t go out much because I was a parent, so I did what came naturally… I created a brand.
What have been the biggest challenges and rewards so far?
Overcoming my fear of social media was a challenge. I’ve been learning that it’s ok to post and share a little of yourself with the world. The biggest reward has been designing a collection I love and people actually wanting to be a part of it.
Tell us about your routine… How do you like to work?
I start the morning off at 6.20am with a morning run before getting Albie dressed and ready for the day. When I’m not looking after Albie I usually work in Planet Organic as they have great wifi connection and I am surrounded by other freelancers.
Juggling work with a family has huge challenges and I have admitted defeat in that I can not be all things to all people. The pressure creative women are under to be the best mum, but also be professionally successful, be super fit with running and yoga and healthy by eating clean and green with food you’ve bought and prepared, and have a huge social life, is intense.
It’s impossible to balance it all and I have really struggled with being this ‘mumboss’ we’re all expected to be. I don’t always get the balance right but I now understand that something has to give and you just need to find a balance that works for you – no one else.
How do you come with ideas for Type & Story?
I’m not a huge reader and I try not to be too influenced by what others are doing as its important to be authentic. My collections are all already in my head. I might just see a visual of some kind or hear a piece of music and that triggers an idea but I could be anywhere at any time. Often my ideas come in the middle of the night so I keep a notebook and pen by my bed.
If you could give your younger self one great piece of advice, what would it be?
Go to design school. Try your hand at everything and take notice.
And what advice would you give young people, or specifically young women, trying to make their way into the creative industries?
1. Grow a thick skin and don’t take things personally. There is a huge amount of competition out there and someone is going to have to lose. Someone is also going to win!
2. Work hard in your early twenties and don’t get distracted by the idea that you have to ‘do your time’. If you don’t see yourself going anywhere in you current job, get out of there. Make a difference to your own life and go the extra mile. Say yes to everything, particularly if the only thing something might cost you is your time.
3. Trust your instincts, they are usually right.
Who or what inspires or influences your creativity?
Music and sound, especially the band Life in Film and early ’90s Britpop. Obviously a fair amount of shape, form, space, colour and line, architecture, design blogs, David Hockney, Damien Hirst, Tracy Emin and independent magazines.
Where can we find Type & Story and shop?
At the moment only at typeandstory.com and Not On The High Street. I’m working hard this year to raise awareness of the brand and hopefully get into some potential stockists who celebrate independent makers. I also have a few exciting collaborations with some wonderful brands in the pipeline so watch this space.
Anything else we should know?
Make things happen. What are you waiting for? If you want to become something, it’s never too late. Oh, and go to Bikram Yoga. It changed my life.
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Words: Emily Beeson | @younggoldteeth