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Nina D produces unique hand illustrated designs on placemats, trays and coasters. Designs inspired by Nina’s Swedish upbringing and family traditions

What we’ve found across all Social Media platforms is how Nina is friendly, approachable, community minded in her marketing. She’s also one of the few businesses we know of that can claim to be as active as we are on social media with a level of consistency and visibility that is rare.

In our latest interview about businesses and successful marketing we chat to Nina in-depth about marketing and consistency and the success that it brings.

Q: We have thousands of readers a week. For those that aren’t aware of Nina D Scandi inspired homeware, do you want to give us a little intro to the business in terms of what you do, how long you’ve been running for and so on?
Hello everyone, my name is Nina Daniels and I am an Artist originally from Sweden. I have lived in Altrincham for nearly six years and I am the founder of NINA D Scandi inspired homeware. I launched in March 2020 immediately before the pandemic and despite the challenges, my business has steadily moved forward. I run my own business as a full time single mum where I juggle business, household and childcare duties. I am passionate about setting the table for mealtimes, a tradition I grew up with in Sweden especially from my Mother who delightfully set the table for celebrations and everyday mealtimes together as a family. Rituals I recognised in England when I moved here twenty five years ago to study in London and also the spark behind my homeware business NINA D.

Each design is meticulously hand illustrated and inspired by a place or a person close to my heart back home in Sweden. During my Set & Costume design degree, I made the decision to always create my art by hand using watercolour on carefully selected paper. I have not once tweaked my artwork with a computer, instead I create depth by layering to produce a striking two dimensional effect.

My customers are based in UK and oversees. Approximately 90% of my customers return to order again. Many I have gotten to know really well and I pride myself on delivering excellent customer service. I have my tableware range stocked locally in Cheshire but also in Scotland, Ireland and US. This year I have started working with a new UK manufacturer for my placemats and coasters who can produce small quantities. This makes it possible for me to design bespoke placemats for customers. I am also delighted that I have been named as one of the UK’s most inspirational and dynamic female entrepreneurs by the f:Entrepreneur #ialso100 campaign 2023.

Q: We start all our interviews with this question. When we’re training businesses on social media we aim to improve their social media in the following areas. Understanding Of Platform; Follower Growth; Idea Generation; Quality Of Content; Consistency / Frequency; Engagement; Analytics; Sales. Which would you say you’re strongest on? And which would you say you’re weakest on and why?
I believe my strength is within Consistency/Frequency but also Quality of Content.

Keeping a consistent flow on social media and engaging with my followers/independent businesses is important to me. I do not stress to increase my followers. I much rather build a network and community who will stay with me. I look at social media more of a long term investment where collaborations with other businesses happen and engagement with loyal customers strengthen. I spend a bit of time planning my content as I would like my posts or reels to tell my story or share in detail how I am perhaps working on a new design. Just like my homeware business, attention to detail is important. I aim for my social medial to come across the same.

Follower growth is interesting when it comes to Instagram as I see mine as a weakness. Despite that I don’t worry about the low number, I am aware that my business has been operating for three years. Someone pointed out that my Instagram number of followers is low for my business. Looking at Instagram, we know the rollercoaster of algorithm and it is not the same as it used to be which can be a factor that my numbers are not increasing as I am not exposed to new viewers. Despite this, I still very much enjoy this platform and the community engagement I am within.

Q: Let’s go back to the beginning of your business. Before you launched Nina D, the brand, did you have any understanding of marketing? And if so how did this understanding impact how you marketed your business?
I lived in London between 1996 and 2008 where I studied then worked for luxury retail (Burberry, Asprey, ESCADA and De Beers) as a Visual Merchandise Manager. Visual Merchandisers often worked for the Marketing Manager or the Marketing Department. I experienced marketing back then focused on press, window displays, launch events and marketing driving online sales (not through social media). I remember during my time at De Beers when they launched their new website and I was told that you had a twenty seconds opportunity for the viewer to browse and order. I definitely think my experience within luxury retail, the high standard of products, how they were displayed and exceptional customer service has continued on to own business.

Q: At the time of this interview you’ve done nearly 900 posts on Instagram (plus probably 5x that on stories). Let’s go back to that moment that you’ve launched your business. You head to instagram and facebook and share your very first post. How did you feel in the minutes, hours, days after that post. Was it underwhelming or overwhelming?

Absolutely overwhelming! I pretty much started from scratch when I launched my business. A few years before I launched, I had my Instagram account but it was focused on various artwork and drawings. My first audience found me because of my art and then it changed to viewers interested in design and my homeware business. Lots of trials and errors at the start with photographing my products and content.

Q: What was the 1st moment where you truly felt social media was working for you and how long into your social media journey did it take to generate your first social sale?
I was nearly a year in to my business and stood in the Stockholm airport with my son, waiting to board our flight back to Manchester after a visit. A lady walked up to me and said; You are Nina from NINA D aren’t you? I follow you on Instagram and love what you do! I thought wow! that was a great moment and I felt I am on the right track. It gave me a real boost, especially as it felt genuine. It took my around three months to generate my first sales from social media (despite everyone focusing on the pandemic at that time). I first launched with my Etsy shop which links to Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, building customer reach and engagement.

Q: I want to talk about Quality Content. It’s one thing I want to really delve into as I know quality takes time. For a typical Nina D table lay shoot how long does it take to photograph, edit and then write the caption? And how has this process changed over time?
Quality content is super important for me. In between my social media posts, I plan my content, usually on the school run, sitting on the metro or packing orders! I rotate my content with a selection of tableware, myself as an Artist, my Swedish roots and inspiration behind my designs. At the start of my business, everything took a lot longer to produce. Product shots and table settings could take full days but with time and practice, I am quicker at setting up and packing up. I shoot a variety of settings, from simple quick arrangements ’Swedish Fika’ (tray, coffee and sweet treats) to full table settings with floral arrangements, candles and a complete dinner service. I use a professional photographer couple of times a year to update my branding shots, table settings and portraits so I have a bank of high quality images for press and social media. In between, I shoot products and table settings with my iPhone. I spend a fair amount of editing so my bank of images are good to use when I’m on the go for social media posting. I have built a good library of images over time that I re use in different contexts. Some content and imagery I may have seen a lot myself, but can be brand new to a first time follower. Sometimes I save a draft of a post and revisit to check over the caption but in general it goes quicker than at the start of my business.

Q: I said in the intro that you’re “one of the few businesses we know of that can claim to be as active as we are on social media with a level of consistency and visibility that is rare.”. Can you let us know how often you post on each platform each week? And how do you manage to produce so much content?
What a compliment! For my Instagram which links to my Facebook business page, I make sure stories are constantly flowing. I post on my Instagram grid every two to three days and I am posting more reels and videos. In December last year, I joined TikTok which is completely focused on tableware. I create TikTok reels a couple of times per week and these are also good to use over on Instagram and Facebook.

Almost daily (before we leave the house for school run) I create a product post from my Etsy shop to Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter (one click for all platforms). This takes no more than a minute and I have marketed my brand onto four social media platforms in one go. Viewers click for my Etsy shop and often find my other platforms or website. It can start with a customer query, leading to sales.

I have a LinkedIn account and post at least once by the end of the week or over the weekend plus engage with other businesses through comments, liking and sharing. On my Google business page, I add product photos couple of times a month which is another great lead for bringing traffic to my social media or website.

I have key businesses and creative people I am influenced by, set on alert when they post (for example HQ!) I am instantly notified when they post or share stories to keep up to date. In between posting on my platforms, I engage on other accounts and this is something I truly value. Building a network and supporting each other being an independent business is key. I also enjoy the interaction through social media, perhaps as I work by myself in my studio. I don’t feel social media is a chore or ‘must do’ and this I think is a real turning point.

I use a lot of my content across several platforms but slightly adjust the text or music so it suits the different audiences.

Q: You told us last week that Facebook drives the most sales for you, which surprised me as I assumed it was instagram. Why do you feel Facebook works for you as a business?
I am amazed to see the growth from Facebook and really enjoying this. As Instagram slowed with their many changes and perhaps lost its identity a little, I focus more on Facebook where followers and sales are growing. I have a large customer base here who won’t be on Instagram or LinkedIn. Customers and network (age group 40 to 60) who feel at ease with Facebook and interact on my posts. Yes, Facebook definitely works for me as a business. I have also increased engaging with other businesses and their posts on Facebook, leading to discovering my business. My regular customers across UK who only follow my Facebook page often send a DM regarding a product order so I make sure to prioritise this platform. Don’t underestimate Facebook!

Q: Engagement and community building are important to you. How much time do you spend a day engaging with other people’s content? Do you feel more businesses should be proactive in this? And what have been your success stories that have come from it?
This is so important to me personally and key for my business. I try to engage with other people’s content in the morning and evening so the day is focused on my other business tasks. I often meet with local businesses through networking or collaboration so the proactiveness is natural to me. I feel Altrincham is a market town where independent businesses and sole traders support each other. I know many businesses who return engagement and it is genuine. Equally, there are businesses who seem to think it will all magically happen for them. I have on numerous accounts, welcomed new businesses with follow and comments resulting in zero response. I actually unfollow these businesses or stop interact. Engagement and community building needs to be mutual!

One success story that truly stands out is when I reached out in your ALTRINCHAM Facebook group a year ago that I was looking for a space to hold a pop up event. Sara and Jez from Full Circle Funerals Partners Altrincham responded and offered me their beautiful space in Altrincham. The result was a hugely successful weekend retail event of tableware and hand tied bouquets by local florist Sarah from Bloom & Gorgeous. We truly brought the community together where we offered coffee and cakes. A space for children to create art and people to simply come together.

Q: I know that you like to meet local businesses IRL from Social Media. Is this a formal process or does it just happen naturally?
I love meeting local businesses, perhaps as I don’t (yet) have my own store. It happens naturally through engagement from social media or I pop in to shop from them. This week I had a photo shoot in my studio from Cheshire Living Magazine and was on the lookout for a plant in the kitchen area. I popped in to Green and Grounded and had a great catch up with the owner. Another time, I was in the local mobile phone shop when Fiona from SKANDA popped in. A quick hello reminded Fiona about an idea for a project together! For me, it starts with community building and engagement, then naturally leading to meeting up.

Q: You mentioned earlier that ” Approximately 90% of my customers return to order again”. People often think about social media as connecting with new customers. How do you feel social media helps you connect with existing customers?
I love how my existing customers follow and engage on my social media platforms, as well as connecting with new customers. The relationship with my existing customers strengthens and they will recommend me to their friends and family. They also often comment on my posts which designs or products they have and enjoy. You could almost view this as an extended customer review, reassuring new customers discovering my brand.

Q: With all we’ve just discussed in terms of time spent marketing – you have a partner and child – how do you get the balance between being present on social and present with family. Are there rules you set in terms of phone usage? And what tips do you have?
Ah yes, I am surrounded by the best team! My partner and I live separately (until our children are a little older, we will form a home together) and he is incredibly supportive of my business. We have over the years learnt how to balance quality time together and my business. It didn’t come naturally when I launched NINA D so its been a steep learning curve. Today I have firm rules when it comes to screen time, inspired by my personal upbringing. There are no phones or screens during mealtimes in our home. From preparing the food to setting the table – this is our time to come together and connect. My son joins me by setting the table and I get the food ready whilst we catch up. Then early evening if my partner follows up on his football team, I’ll do a quick check on my social media. My tip is to keep mealtimes free from phone usage and share them together around the table if you have family. We are surrounded by technology and although it is a vital part, taking breaks from it is healthy. Even if I am working by myself, I will come away from screens to enjoy my lunch or coffee by the table.

Q: What is your biggest social media marketing success story?
I feel successful in how far I have come with social media marketing since I launched NINA D. I genuinely enjoy using social media and I think this comes across in my engagement. Despite that I am right at the start of TikTok and only a handful of followers, one of my favourite luxury homeware brands followed me back. This is what I like, you never know who is looking at your content!

Q: What is your biggest social media marketing failure? And what did you learn from it?
At the start of my business, my Instagram handle was too long and confusing. It didn’t connect clearly with my business. I changed it to @ninadhome which is short and direct. Whenever there is an opportunity to have your business and social media platforms analysed professionally, grab the opportunity. It has been really useful to hear feedback and one was that my Instagram handle didn’t represent my business.

Q: If you started your business again would you do anything different with your social media marketing?
Definitely invest in training from the start. I tried learning the ropes by myself for sometime before I signed up for social media training. You want your business to get off to the best start when launching. I also paid for advertisement which I don’t do anymore. I also paid for advertisement which I don’t do anymore. I believe with the right training, you can grow your social media marketing successfully.

When I am approached by sales teams from magazine and press ie marketing – trying to sell advertisement. I always reply professionally that at the moment, I have not budgeted for paid marketing. In my reply, I include an update of my recent ’news, achievements or a new product launching’ hyper links to any awards or recognitions and a simple leaflet of my brand. This has at times been passed on from the sales team to the Editor and lead to PR at no cost. I always say, grab any opportunity you can to market your business.

Q: You’ve been on our social media courses and follow our content. What’s your biggest social media marketing lesson from Altrincham HQ?
I thoroughly enjoyed my social media marketing lesson on blogging with Altrincham HQ. I believe this year is even more important than ever to connect with your audience if you have a successful product range and customer service. Blogging is something I have been meaning to incorporate for some time so I am glad you reminded me! Watch this space for Nina’s blogs..

To find out more about Nina D check the website out here

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Alex McCann

Author Alex McCann

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