Nessie founded Thisisnessie back in 2002 as a stationery business following the birth of her first child. In the intervening years, she has had another three children, moved to the Sussex countryside and grown the business from a one-woman operation to a market-leading online gifting business. Now, with the help of her dedicated team, Thisisnessie delivers smiles to letterboxes all over the UK and around the world.
How did Thisisnessie start?
“My dad asked me to make him some Christmas cards and it kind of snowballed from there. His 400 cards turned into 10,000 and the seeds of an idea were sown!”
What challenges did you face getting started?
“Well, in 2002 the internet was not really much of a thing – it was all about Myspace.com and Friends Reunited – and the iPhone was still five years away. So the biggest challenge was getting out there and being seen. I was also a new mum at the time so a bit distracted by that too.”
What was it that really got the business going?
“In a lot of ways it had its own momentum. I was operating on old-school word of mouth, rather than the turbo-charged social media version. Even though I only gave out an email address, people seemed to be able to get hold of me and I burbled on. Eventually Mr Nessie stuck his oar in and insisted that I needed a website and to start taking orders online. This was 2004 and I was still proofreading our first website when I went into labour with child number two”
When did you know it was going to work?
“To begin with I kept the business going at a pace that I could cope with – it was just me, with occasional help from friends and family. Christmas was always super busy but for the rest of the year it was something that I could pick up and put down. In 2011, Mr Nessie left his job as a journalist and came to work with me. I guess that was the point that I knew it HAD to work!
So – working with your other half – dream or nightmare?
“Um…how do I answer that?! Er…a bit of both? We do have our own roles, our own offices and even our own buildings and provide we stick to those things are generally alright. It’s not always that easy though as we both have thoughts about what each other are doing. On the other hand, I can safely say that without him on board in the way that he is, Thisisnessie would not be what it is today.
What’s the best thing about being Nessie?
“I love being my own boss. I also feel massively fortunate to be able to be a mother and be an entrepreneur. It’s sometimes a tricky balance to strike, but the flexibility that having our studios in the same place as our home gives me is a massive thing. Artistically, I am just thrilled to have found something that lets me indulge all the things that I am passionate about and make them work as a business. I get to choose when I work – and where – which helps me massively in terms of being able to still be present for my children. I am just really, really lucky it all works, most of the time at least!