Every week, we shine a spotlight on the best small brands we think are worth shouting about. We love our great British high street, but there are so many fantastic independent brands out there making clothes, accessories, homeware and more from a place of passion and love and we need to support them – now more than ever.
From fashion and beauty to homeware, accessories and food, we bring you the best small businesses you need on your radar. This week, we chat with Nina Bombina, artist and founder of her eponymous art prints and gifts brand.
What is Nina Bombina and how did the brand come to life?
I’m super arty and have always wanted to design and make products. Nina Bombina was born out of the first Covid lockdown and began with a range of cards featuring Black and brown characters, as they are often underrepresented in the greetings card industry. Once the cards were taken on board by Moonpig and Funky Pigeon, I started designing prints too, alongside making custom graphic portraits and polymer clay earrings, all of which I sell on Etsy.
What three words describe Nina Bombina?
Colourful, fun and inclusive.
Who is the Nina Bombina customer?
Anyone who wants to brighten up their home with my artwork, brighten up someone’s day with my cards or brighten up their face with my earrings!
What inspires your designs?
If you couldn’t already tell, I’m a sucker for bright colours and striking colour combinations, and sometimes that can be the starting point for a design. I also get inspiration from other artists and illustrators, from walking around little independent homeware and gift shops and from visiting art galleries. However most of the time I just make designs up as I go along – whatever comes to mind at the time.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I’m a freelance photographer, an artist/maker/graphic designer and I’m also an employed part-time Marketing Officer at a drama school; I’m certainly spinning some plates! In my self-employed life, there isn’t really a typical day as everything I do is really varied. I’ll either be at a photoshoot, editing photos, packaging orders and taking them to the post office, designing or replying to emails and other admin. My favourite aspect of my working life is definitely Nina Bombina – I really enjoy every element of it so it doesn’t feel like work.
What’s the best thing about running your own business? And the most challenging?
The best thing is creating something that is all yours and looking back and saying ‘I did this!’ I really enjoy the process of learning all the different hats you need to wear as a freelancer; designing, making, sales, marketing, packaging, budgeting… I’ve always been very independent so I love managing my own time and being in charge of every decision. Etsy has played a huge part in my business because it gave me an instant platform with a huge audience and the setup is really easy. I think the most challenging thing about running your own business is self-motivation. Luckily, I’m part of a wonderful group of female creative freelancers that meets once a week to hold each other’s goals accountable, but if I skip a meeting or two, I find my work slows down a bit.
The best moment so far?
I got approached by a huge publishing house to design the artwork for some merchandise that was being launched with a book release. The book was about taking the knee and featured some of the most famous Black sportspeople in the world. That was a proud moment.
Which product is your current favourite?
I’d say my pack of Paradise House cards. I love the packaging because it’s holographic and I’m an absolute magpie to anything holographic or iridescent.
Anything exciting in the pipeline?
I’m working on a few new products which may include candles and plant pots, so keep an eye out on my Etsy shop to see if they pop up soon.
YOU’s 3 favourite things:
Etsy is committed to showcasing and celebrating independent creatives this Black History Month and beyond. There is a huge selection of one-of-a-kind creations to discover from Black-owned businesses from the Etsy community, and you can shop a few of Etsy’s favourites at etsy.com/uk/featured/blackownedshops-uk.