I came across Nabeela’s Miss Artsy-Crafty brand at the end of 2015 while on an Instagram exploration spree. I noticed that she was 15, and putting out quality content – girl has mad skills. In one of her Instagram posts, she chatted about a DIY that she had written more about on her blog. She had made a notebook and her blog post was the tutorial to create one for myself. Challenge accepted.
I spent a few hours cutting A4 paper in half, and punching holes in it to make pages. I cut up a big brown cardboard shopping bag from Typo, glued two sheets together to make more sturdy covers, and tah-dah, a book! I was very pleased with the outcome, and used it as a planner.
Since then, I have been following her work and I saw that she does handlettering work for another Capetonian brand I follow, LionHeart Pâtisserie Studio, and recently I saw that she was putting together a line of greeting cards. I remember when I was in high school, I spent my afternoons doing maths and biology homework, writing English essays and studying for upcoming tests. Blogging wasn’t a huge deal in South Africa back in 2005. I’m so impressed that Nabeela has created her brand, maintains an active online presence, is growing her business and is so mature about creative work and business ownership. She embodies girlboss-ness. I can’t wait to see what she does when she leaves school, and where she takes the Miss Artsy-Crafty brand.
Keep doing you, girl. Our interview is below. But first, I had to share some of her Instagram posts.
I'm saddened to see how we feel the need to compete with one another. We shoot each other down instead of raising each other up. Instead of embracing our differences, we all compete to see who can be a better version of the same person. Girls, we are not each other's competition. As they say, comparison is the thief of joy. So let's stop comparing and start embracing ❤️🙏🏼
Q: Briefly tell us about your business journey.
A: There wasn’t really a moment where I went “okay, so tomorrow, I’m going to start a business.” Everything sort of happened naturally. I started Miss Artsy-Crafty in early 2015 on a whim of spontaneity, as a blog, because I wanted a place to share my thoughts with the world. I’d seen other bloggers selling products on their blogs, so the thought of selling products had been at the back of my mind. Around the same time, I became very interested in brush-lettering, and then slightly later on, digital media. When my digitiszing skills improved, and I started playing around and digitizing my lettering and illustration, the greeting cards were born.
It was a gradual process of learning and exploration, but once the idea of the business was lodged in my mind, I just couldn’t shake it, and I started e-mailing around, doing research and tweaking my designs. There was lots that I didn’t know, and if it hadn’t been for the support and help I received from my mentors, I would certainly not have things running smoothly (well, as smoothly as things can run. This is real life, after all). It took loads of trial and error, and extreme amounts of patience and faith, to get things to where they needed to be.
Q: What was the process you followed when starting to set up your brand?
A: As I mentioned before, I was lucky enough to have a fairly substantial online presence before I launched my business, thanks to my blog. This helped immensely because I already had platforms to advertise and market the business. Those platforms just changed from being solely for the blog, to sharing their limelight with the greeting cards – they all fall under the Miss Artsy-Crafty banner.
When I started thinking business, I knew that I needed to have a proper form of identification – a set logo. At the beginning, when it was just the blog, I chopped and changed my logo quite a bit, and experimented with different font styles, colours and sizes. However, over time, I found myself needing something a little more unique to Miss Artsy-Crafty, and so after some more thinking and playing around, I decided to create my own logo, using my hand-lettering. I needed something that wouldn’t go out of fashion in six months, and would remain true and relevant to me and my brand. I currently use this logo for my blog and greeting cards, to create cohesion within the brand. Another thing I did was invest in a domain for my blog, because it now serves as a blog and the ‘home-ground’ for the greeting cards too.
Q: How do you manage your branding and make sure everything you do (from business cards, to packaging, to branding collateral) keeps in line with your brand?
A: I keep things simple by sticking to a certain colour story and using a few selected fonts (mostly my own hand-lettering, which I usually pair with one of two sans serif fonts that I like). I keep things cohesive on the social media side by using those same colours and fonts for all my content and keeping header images and profile photos the same where possible.
Q: How do you manage your social media commitments?
A: Social media takes way more effort than it seems. It requires constant attention, and if one is not careful, it can chow away precious hours from our day. However, if used properly, it can be an amazing tool. I use social media to market my blog, content creation work, and now, the greeting cards. I personally have seen how social media has allowed my brand to grow organically, and the marketing opportunities have been endless. I have the most fun creating interesting content for my platforms. I try and take some time before and after school to reply to comments, post images, and engage with other creatives online. The only rule I really have is that my content must be relevant and no “over-gramming” (as far as possible) because I know how annoying I find it!
Q: How do you motivate yourself to keep going when your inner critic’s voice gets a bit too loud?
A: Those inner-critics can be pretty overwhelming. I try to not overthink things. I know that if you tell yourself your work is bad enough times, you will believe it. If I’m not feeling a project, or if I’m just too overwhelmed and find myself asking all the ‘what if’ questions, I know it’s time to just take some time to unplug and do something completely separate from the task at hand. Works like a charm.
Q: What are some of the biggest lessons you have learnt since you started your business?
A: Patience is key. I’ve realised that everyone wants their email to be replied to first, their order to be delivered first, and their payment to be approved first, but things don’t work that way. We have to accept that there are things that are out of our control. If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be. Another lesson that I’ve learnt is that not everyone will love your work. And that’s okay. It feels soul-crushing the first time you realise it, but you’ll get over it, and trust me, someone will love your work and your style. You just have to give it time and keep doing your thing.
Melissa De Klerk
Writer, Web Designer, Digital Media Strategist, Typophile, Inspiration Junkie, Yogi
Melissa is the owner and creative brain behind Fox & Owl Media. She loves creating content strategies and has considerable experience with Website Design and Brand Management.
You can contact her here, and find her on social media by clicking the links below.