You guys, we are onto the 5thconsecutive week of the Friday Five series and I am pumped! I plan to keep this as a regular feature on into the new year (as long as I have willing participants) although we will take a break over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday. I hope you all will continue to follow along, and if you have an apron and would like to be featured, email me! (seriously, I love to hear from you guys and am planning the calendar in January now)
Ok! So on to this week’s interview! I got a chance to speak with Nicole Hance, the hilarious, kind –hearted woman who’s the driving force behind West Sheridan; a hand lettering and illustration company she started on a dream and a prayer back in 2013. She’s also one of my oldest online friends and has illustrated several of our Christmas cards, hand lettered prints in my home and created the recipe and Thank You cards for Oatmeal Lace. If you’ve received a package from me, you’ve seen her work!
1. Can you tell us a little about yourself, your company, West Sheridan, and how you began exploring calligraphy?
I started this answer with my age but then deleted it - that’s not how I want to introduce myself! Ha! I’m a mom to two little kids (Ava is 6 and Drew is almost 2) and have been dating my husband for 20 years (married for 9).
West Sheridan was born in 2013, out of my fervent need to not have to work in a corporate cubicle anymore. On paper it was a perfect job - great boss and co-workers, flexibility, offered financial comfort, etc. - but I felt like I needed MORE. I needed more time with my little girl, more creativity, more purpose. I saw a blog post (I cannot remember where!) about ‘faux calligraphy’; I think if you scroll back REALLY far on my Instagram you can see my first attempts. They were really….ummmm… bad. But I practiced a lot and thought it was fun and eventually decided “Maybe I can do something with this…” So I gave it a shot with my first Etsy shop and social media. When I was expecting our second child I took West Sheridan full time and it’s been great! I have LESS of that whole ‘financial comfort’ thing but MORE of the other things I really wanted.
P.S. Fine, I’m 37. I have no problem with that, but I feel like much less of a ‘grown up’ than I should in my late thirties. :)
Um, I’m 38 and still call my mom with questions every day because CERTAINLY I can’t be that grown up?! Still blows my mind that I am responsible for the well-being of two little ones…
2. What are some of your favorite tools/supplies?
My answer has changed a lot in the past year and a half! I used to live for fresh Sharpies, Microns, a stack of bright white paper, and my Wacom tablet. I would do all my work on paper (pencil sketch then ink final copy) and then scan it into my computer. From there I would clean it up in Photoshop and then vectorize in Illustrator. But then… For my 36th birthday my overly generous parents, brother + sister-in-law gifted me with a Surface Pro and I’ve barely looked back. Now I letter + draw directly in Photoshop or Illustrator and it has been nice to skip the step of scanning in all my work. Of course there are still some times when only a piece of paper and pencil will do - but even then I can take a picture of it with my computer and skip the scanning!
3. What gets you up in the morning? (I hope it’s not early rising children like me!)
No, all three of us sleep through my alarm daily! But I will proudly let you know we have never missed the school bus! (yet)
I’m not sure if I should be answering this literally or figuratively, but I guess either way the answer is: Ava and Andrew. Everything is for them, from caring for them directly (feeding, dressing, bathing etc.) to showing them how to navigate the world (love others, spend your time on things that matter, pray hard, work harder, and be grateful. That’s the short list.) One day I might have a larger list of reasons but I’m OK with them consuming this season of life. I know it’s short and I’m overwhelmingly thankful.
4. Any tips for newbies on how to develop their own style?
Practice, practice, practice, practice, PRACTICE. Just keep sketching, doodling, writing the same words over and over. Keep making things, even if you don’t think they’re “good enough”. One day your style will emerge and maybe it won’t be what you were originally going for, but it will be yours! And it will likely continue to evolve and improve forever.5. What’s in your apron?
Oh my gosh, I just feel so fancy and OFFICIAL in my apron. It is my uniform for craft fairs and shows, and I keep it stocked with pens, a receipt pad, business cards, scissors, and change. I also wear it for on-site work, such as delivering + setting up wedding signs or lettering murals. For those occasions, I make sure the pockets have tape, scissors, a pencil, good eraser, tape measure, and twine.
I also have a 2nd one for my employee (just kidding, my husband) and I won’t lie, sometimes he wears his to grill when he’s off the clock. I think he keeps gum, earbuds, and matches in his.
Thank you so much for joining me this week, Nic. I’ve loved watching you from the beginning, both your business and your life as a mom…especially since our kids are so close in age and our stories of starting our companies feel so similar. Really looking forward to meeting you in person this February!