Nina Davenport, Print & Brand Designer

I'm very excited to introduce to my friend and co-worker Nina Davenport. She is a print & brand designer with over ten years experience from Seattle Washington. She is one talented lady who not only works full-time and freelances, but has also recently launched her gorgeous handmade jewelry business Made Slow CoThanks for taking the time to chat with us Nina!

What do you do?

I’m a print and brand designer based in Seattle, WA. I freelance on the side of my full-time job, and also just recently started a handmade jewelry company to force myself to create off of the computer.

What did you want to be when you were a child?

I’m not sure I knew this could be a job, but I was obsessed with planning out my birthday parties. So I think my dream was to be an event planner.

Tell us about your journey to becoming a freelancer.

After I graduated, I worked at a small design firm where I was able to learn everything from pitching clients, designing multiple options, prepping files and then sending off to print. After working 3 years in that world, I decided I wanted to try something else. I worked a couple short-term contract jobs and started to find freelance clients on the side. Since then, I’ve gone back to full-time work, but have continued to freelance when the right job comes my way.

When you first started, how did you find clients?

Family and friends always need design help so I started out using connections to help build my portfolio.

How do you manage working full-time and freelancing on the side?

Luckily I live in Seattle where it’s grey outside 9 months out of the year, so that helps! But I’ve definitely learned to be ok sacrificing the occasional happy hour or the latest Netflix show to stay in and be creative. As long as I’m working on something cool, or saving up for the next trip I take, then I don’t mind designing after work.

Microblading University | Nina Davenport
Microblading University © Nina Davenport
Do you have a motto that you work by?

Every job / experience will teach you something. Some projects may not be the most exciting, or they turn out totally different than you ever wanted, but each experience teaches you a skill or lesson that will help you with the next.

How do you stay productive?

I still have a hard time sometimes, but I’ve found that a good playlist or podcast helps. Also creating an inspiration / mood board before you start, and going to a coffee shop for a change of scenery if you’re really stuck.

What are you working on right now?

I’m working on a few logos for friends’ companies, and trying to build my own brand when I have extra time.

What is your dream project?

I would love to eventually create textiles, patterns and/or jewelry that ends up in Anthropologie.

Potful Gifts | Nina Davenport
Potful Gifts Cards © Nina Davenport
Potful Gifts Seattle Starter Kit | Nina Davenport
Potful Gifts Seattle Starter Kit Card © Nina Davenport
Nina Davenport
I learned that staying in a job or doing something just because you feel like you have to (because society tells you to) is the wrong reason to do it. You must follow your heart, and listen to your body.
What is the best piece of advice you've been given?

My mom once said, ‘Wake up (spiritually, mentally). Live fully. Give thanks. Share what you have learned.’

Tell us about a time in your career when you struggled.

My first few years out of school, working as a designer at a small design firm was pretty stressful. I was working crazy hours (many nights past midnight) and was living life for the weekend, literally counting down the hours until I was done with work. I started having major body pain in my arms and neck, and all the symptoms of carpel tunnel. I tried everything I could think of—making sure my workspace was ergonomic, going to weekly physical therapy, a chiropractor, sleeping with a brace, and then went to to an orthopedic surgeon who told me I needed to get surgery in my arm. I considered giving up being a designer, but felt like that wasn’t an option because I had just finished a 3-year program. Luckily my mom strongly disagreed and instead handed me a book about body pain that her yoga instructor swore by. Within a week of reading the book, my pain was gone.

I learned so much from this experience— I learned that staying in a job or doing something just because you feel like you have to (because society tells you to) is the wrong reason to do it. You must follow your heart, and listen to your body. The book Mindbody Prescription by John Sarno also taught me that neck, back and repetitive stress injuries can be rooted in repressed emotions. I highly recommend it for anyone with body pain.

Made Slow Co. | Nina Davenport
Made Slow Co. © Nina Davenport
What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Ooh honestly I think starting my own brand has been the highlight. I love being able to have total creative control and working on something from the very beginning, from naming to marketing, and then watching it grow. Its pretty intimidating putting your own stuff out there (and on sale), but it’s also so rewarding.

What are you listening to, reading or watching that is inspiring to you lately?

Lots of self-help / inspirational / entrepreneurship books & podcasts:

  • ‘Ignore everybody and 39 other keys to creativity… “ by Hugh MacLeod
  • Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill
  • ‘Going Scared’ podcast by Jessica Honegger
  • Interviews with Gary Vee
What is your favourite piece of clothing?

It would have to be this fuzzy leopard coat I scored from the clearance section at Nordstrom Rack for $13! It was intended to be a bathrobe, but it’s kept me warm during numerous music festivals and camp trips. You just can’t beat the $13 price tag 🙂

What is the strangest thing about you?

I can’t whistle and I don’t like doughnuts.

Who would you most like to answer these questions next?

Jeanie Chong @__nomorebadtype is a very talented designer in LA and my copywriter / vlogger friend Joe Flow @flosef_loc is pretty funny.

How can we find out more about your work?

My new brand/ side project @madeslowco
And website nina-davenport.com