In recognition of Black History Month in the U.S. and Canada, we’re sharing the work and stories of some of the talented entrepreneurs from the Black community on Faire. First, we spotlighted All Very Goods, an artful accessories brand from Washington, D.C.
Today, we’re highlighting Little Lovelies Studio, a stationery and gifts brand based in New Bern, North Carolina. We spoke with founder and designer Nikki Tyler about her path to small business ownership, the inspiration behind her relatable greeting cards, and how she juggles motherhood and entrepreneurship.
Filling a gap in the market
Little Lovelies Studio was born in 2013 out of a failed search for a Mother’s Day card—one in a string of many frustrating greeting card searches for Nikki Tyler. “I would find myself editing cards with a permanent marker before giving them out,” Nikki said. Constantly struggling to find cards that accurately portrayed her relationships, Nikki decided to use her background in graphic design and hand lettering to create a card herself.
She decided to list her new Mother’s Day card on her then-inactive Etsy shop that she’d made years prior. The card was a hit, and from there, Nikki’s business began to gain a bit of traction. She started creating and posting unique cards for more major holidays that represented the wide range of sentiments that she felt were missing in the current market.
In place of the sometimes cliched sentiments offered at many big-box retailers, Nikki created graduation cards with slogans like, “You’re done with school! And the easiest and least stressful part of your life,” and birthday cards reading, “Welcome to your thirties. You now have bathroom ibuprofen, nightstand ibuprofen, kitchen ibuprofen, and card ibuprofen.”
The cards struck a chord with customers, but the business’s growth was still a slow process. “I was a stay-at-home mom at first, and I was just doing it as a hobby,” Nikki said. It wasn’t until the past two years that the business really started taking off. Unlike many businesses, the onset of the pandemic propelled the success of Little Lovelies Studios, as people became more intentional about shopping from small businesses and doing so online. “I realized that this could actually be something if I wanted it to.” She decided to lean into the business full-time.
From there, the success continued and Nikki’s business continued to grow. Today, she runs LIttle Lovelies Studios full-time, designing and selling her hand-lettered greeting cards, enamel pins, stickers, and more to thousands of customers around the world. Her mission has remained the same throughout her journey—to bring real, honest, and relatable sentiments into customers’ lives.
Navigating parenthood and small business ownership
For Nikki, parenthood is at the forefront of her business. It serves not only as a challenge but also as an inspiration for her artwork. With four kids under the age of ten, Nikki runs her business in between her childrens’ naps—even when that means waking up at 4:00 AM. It also means always being ready to work, whether it’s in the early hours of the morning or beachside on a vacation. “I take my iPad with me everywhere because I never know when I’m going to have downtime to design,” she said.
The long hours of parenthood also serve as a catalyst for most of Nikki’s designs. “A lot of my inspiration comes from dealing with the shenanigans that the kids throw at me, and the feelings that motherhood brings about,” she said. Nikki tries to make designs that are universal and can resonate with the real-life everyday struggles of parenting.
Nikki also leans on her experience as a stay-at-home mom for design inspiration. “Being a stay-at-home mom is really lonely a lot of times. I don’t have a lot of meaningful contact with adults.” Nikki hopes that her honest sentiments in her work can help her customers, especially fellow mothers, feel less alone. “When someone gets a card designed by me, I want them to feel like they are seen and they are heard,” she said.
The importance of representation and patience
Despite the challenges, Nikki is proud to be a part of a thriving community of Black woman creatives and entrepreneurs. “It means so much to me to be part of this community,” she said. “I don’t remember ever seeing people of color as artists or makers growing up. The older I get, the more I realize how important representation is.”
Nikki hopes to add to that representation not only through her artwork—her pins reading “Black Girl Magic” and “Love My Melanin” continuously prove popular—but also as a small business owner herself. “When you don’t see people who look like you doing something you think, ‘oh this isn’t for me.’ Now, my kids know that if they wanted to, they could also run a business when they get older.”
If her kids do ever decide to follow in her footsteps and open their business, Nikki has a few valuable pieces of advice to pass on. “Entrepreneurship is not a linear path,” she said. “It’s very hilly. There’s a lot of peaks and valleys.” Nikki also advises any hopeful entrepreneurs to not compare themselves to others—especially those who may seem to have had overnight success. “All the businesses you think are overnight successes probably are not,” she said. “They worked really hard to get to where they are.”
Most importantly, Nikki emphasizes staying true to yourself, being patient with yourself, and leaving room for self-care. “No one is on the same journey as you. No one will have the same experiences in life or business as you. Don’t forget to give yourself some grace.”
Shop Little Lovelies Studios and other Black-Owned Businesses on Faire.