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Kate Nicole

Published:

Creativity has always been part of my life. I grew up in Suffolk, in homes bursting with inspiration—my parents, owners of Rosehip in the Country, were always coming back from trips to France with unusual brocante finds and interesting antiques and Mum was always making special pieces out of old fabrics. She instilled a love of creating in me. My mother has always encouraged me to be creative and exposed me to a world of making/creating/collecting to inspire my own work.

Kate Nicole Work Space

I studied A-level art and completed a one-year art foundation in fashion and textiles. I always intended to go to university, but by the end of the course I wanted to go off and explore. At 18, I booked a one-way ticket to New Zealand, spending a year working and travelling before moving to Australia for two years. There I worked planting trees in the rainforest and as a snorkelling guide with whale sharks and manta rays on the Ningaloo Reef. I fell in love with a place called Oyster Bridge and would spend hours sketching and taking photos, never expecting it to inspire the name of my future business.

In Australia, I lived in a caravan in Coral Bay and made friends with another creative. We set up a screen-printing area in my van, designing and making our own stencils to print onto t-shirts. We sold these to locals and passing travellers as they stopped by to enjoy the reef. I think women can help each other to be both creative and successful in what they do by talking, sharing advice, taking value from good and bad experiences to learn as you go along, enabling you to grow and to be successful. The friend I met in Australia (we would walk at the beach at Oyster Bridge) is a true “free spirit” and artist; we made lots of things together and explored the amazing place we were living in to inspire us. We always supported each other’s separate ventures in life and work.

I am at my happiest creating original handmade designs.

Kate Nicole Home

After two farther trips, working in the Seychelles and on a remote Scottish island, I returned home. It was a hard phase, and I knew that I needed to settle down and work out which direction I wanted to go in. On the way home from the airport, we stopped in a local town and Mum pointed out a shopfront, saying that she would love some help on a new project: moving her business, Rosehip, from a barn at home to a small shop, selling all things French, rustic and handmade.

My parents had owned shops before but helping to launch this new venture marked a turning point for me. I helped them set up, and took another part time job too: on days off I painted and stitched. Before travelling, I had created a stitched hydrangea painting which had been much admired. I fine-tuned my style and showed my first collection of largescale botanical paintings six months later, in 2012, at Rosehip and at another shop, The Bell Jar, in Norwich. This was the start of Oyster Bridge and Co. and I haven’t looked back. The business was started with no investment; I lived at home and saved to buy paints, papers, a sewing machine, threads and frames. Everything has evolved organically and my friend taught me how to frame to keep overhead down.

Kate Nicole Studio

My studio is based at my parents’ rural Suffolk farmhouse and looks out over cornfields and wild hedgerows to the front, and to a quintessentially English country garden at the back. The peaceful whitewashed, beamed room with its wonky red brick floor is an airy space, full of creative nooks containing aspirational mood-boards and endless inspirations for my work. Antique armoires and time-worn desks play home to papers, collected dried flower heads and old French pots filled with paintbrushes.

Be original, inspired, respectful and honest in what you do.

Being original is important to me. I never reproduce a painting; they evolve naturally with their own unique details. Beautiful packaging is also really important—I want my parcels to be a joy to open; it’s part of the magic. What I love most is the spontaneity of creating work that is always different, working on special commissions and creating beautiful packaging to add that finishing touch. An important lesson I have learned is to take inspiration and translate it into your own style, without stealing someone else’s. Do what you love! My paintings are made on handmade paper; each one is individually drawn in graphite (pencil) by hand, and then painted with watercolour in layers until I get the desired colours. The piece is then hand-dyed and left to dry over a few days. After completely drying, I press the piece flat and apply more watercolour if needed. After leaving to dry for a final time, I then stitch the painting. At the beginning of the process I would have chosen a specific frame to go with the painting, so after it’s completely finished, I then frame the piece. I use old French frames, and lend them sympathetically to the plant/flower piece I’m creating with the colours to match.

The labels are made on the same paper, and the ink is freehand calligraphy— each one is made in turn. I do not use stencils or guides, which gives the art its irregular style. These are finished with ties of vintage floral fabric or old French linens. With the hand-dyed paper I also make journals and other paper pieces. The garlands are made from old French documents and old novel pages, each shape is individually cut.

Kate Nicole Labels

My work is sold via Instagram, online with Rosehip and a few other independent stockists, and at exclusive fairs, including The Decorative Living Fair and The Country Brocante. Social media has raised my profile and has generated lots of bespoke commissions, along with branding and logo work for specific clients. I love the diversity and freedom that comes with your own business. My pieces are affordable enough for you to treat yourself, but not every day. I am currently working on new ideas and collections —my designs are constantly evolving.

Coming back to Suffolk has proved the catalyst for so much: the start of my business as well as a new timber-framed home that my boyfriend Ali has just finished building for us. I have a small workspace there, but will keep my studio at my parents’ too. It has been the inspiration for everything and I am very grateful.

Creativity has always been part of my life. I grew up in Suffolk, in homes bursting with inspiration—my parents, owners of Rosehip in the Country, were always coming back from trips to France with unusual brocante finds and interesting antiques and Mum was always making special pieces out of old fabrics. She instilled a love of creating in me. My mother has always encouraged me to be creative and exposed me to a world of making/creating/collecting to inspire my own work.

Kate Nicole Work Space

I studied A-level art and completed a one-year art foundation in fashion and textiles. I always intended to go to university, but by the end of the course I wanted to go off and explore. At 18, I booked a one-way ticket to New Zealand, spending a year working and travelling before moving to Australia for two years. There I worked planting trees in the rainforest and as a snorkelling guide with whale sharks and manta rays on the Ningaloo Reef. I fell in love with a place called Oyster Bridge and would spend hours sketching and taking photos, never expecting it to inspire the name of my future business.

In Australia, I lived in a caravan in Coral Bay and made friends with another creative. We set up a screen-printing area in my van, designing and making our own stencils to print onto t-shirts. We sold these to locals and passing travellers as they stopped by to enjoy the reef. I think women can help each other to be both creative and successful in what they do by talking, sharing advice, taking value from good and bad experiences to learn as you go along, enabling you to grow and to be successful. The friend I met in Australia (we would walk at the beach at Oyster Bridge) is a true “free spirit” and artist; we made lots of things together and explored the amazing place we were living in to inspire us. We always supported each other’s separate ventures in life and work.

I am at my happiest creating original handmade designs.

Kate Nicole Home

After two farther trips, working in the Seychelles and on a remote Scottish island, I returned home. It was a hard phase, and I knew that I needed to settle down and work out which direction I wanted to go in. On the way home from the airport, we stopped in a local town and Mum pointed out a shopfront, saying that she would love some help on a new project: moving her business, Rosehip, from a barn at home to a small shop, selling all things French, rustic and handmade.

My parents had owned shops before but helping to launch this new venture marked a turning point for me. I helped them set up, and took another part time job too: on days off I painted and stitched. Before travelling, I had created a stitched hydrangea painting which had been much admired. I fine-tuned my style and showed my first collection of largescale botanical paintings six months later, in 2012, at Rosehip and at another shop, The Bell Jar, in Norwich. This was the start of Oyster Bridge and Co. and I haven’t looked back. The business was started with no investment; I lived at home and saved to buy paints, papers, a sewing machine, threads and frames. Everything has evolved organically and my friend taught me how to frame to keep overhead down.

Kate Nicole Studio

My studio is based at my parents’ rural Suffolk farmhouse and looks out over cornfields and wild hedgerows to the front, and to a quintessentially English country garden at the back. The peaceful whitewashed, beamed room with its wonky red brick floor is an airy space, full of creative nooks containing aspirational mood-boards and endless inspirations for my work. Antique armoires and time-worn desks play home to papers, collected dried flower heads and old French pots filled with paintbrushes.

Be original, inspired, respectful and honest in what you do.

Being original is important to me. I never reproduce a painting; they evolve naturally with their own unique details. Beautiful packaging is also really important—I want my parcels to be a joy to open; it’s part of the magic. What I love most is the spontaneity of creating work that is always different, working on special commissions and creating beautiful packaging to add that finishing touch. An important lesson I have learned is to take inspiration and translate it into your own style, without stealing someone else’s. Do what you love! My paintings are made on handmade paper; each one is individually drawn in graphite (pencil) by hand, and then painted with watercolour in layers until I get the desired colours. The piece is then hand-dyed and left to dry over a few days. After completely drying, I press the piece flat and apply more watercolour if needed. After leaving to dry for a final time, I then stitch the painting. At the beginning of the process I would have chosen a specific frame to go with the painting, so after it’s completely finished, I then frame the piece. I use old French frames, and lend them sympathetically to the plant/flower piece I’m creating with the colours to match.

The labels are made on the same paper, and the ink is freehand calligraphy— each one is made in turn. I do not use stencils or guides, which gives the art its irregular style. These are finished with ties of vintage floral fabric or old French linens. With the hand-dyed paper I also make journals and other paper pieces. The garlands are made from old French documents and old novel pages, each shape is individually cut.

Kate Nicole Labels

My work is sold via Instagram, online with Rosehip and a few other independent stockists, and at exclusive fairs, including The Decorative Living Fair and The Country Brocante. Social media has raised my profile and has generated lots of bespoke commissions, along with branding and logo work for specific clients. I love the diversity and freedom that comes with your own business. My pieces are affordable enough for you to treat yourself, but not every day. I am currently working on new ideas and collections —my designs are constantly evolving.

Coming back to Suffolk has proved the catalyst for so much: the start of my business as well as a new timber-framed home that my boyfriend Ali has just finished building for us. I have a small workspace there, but will keep my studio at my parents’ too. It has been the inspiration for everything and I am very grateful.