We had the good fortune of connecting with Danica Wong and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Danica, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
When I was in college, I worked a part-time job for an Etsy shop owner (Janet at The Seashell Collection) who hand-crafted home, wedding and events decor. I applied for the job because I needed to make extra money and enjoyed arts and crafting. She was a very experienced Etsy store owner and talented craftswoman, and taught me a ton about the ins and outs of running a small business. Simultaneously, I was learning the very basic techniques of hand lettering. That, coupled with my fondness for drawing, brought me requests from various people to either draw or write something for them. With Janet’s encouragement and guidance, I decided to launch Danica Nicole Designs as an Etsy shop, decorating notebooks, prints and greeting cards to order. Since then, I have shut down my Etsy shop and only market hand lettering and graphic design services on Instagram, but my business has been a creative outlet for me to make work that I enjoy. From the beginning, I did not intend for it to become my main source of income as I wanted to utilize it as a form of self-care and creative expression. Relieving that pressure has kept it truly enjoyable for me as a project that can evolve alongside my grow as a person and an artist.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Danica Nicole Designs has gone through many iterations, starting with greeting cards and notebooks and more recently, wedding signage and hand lettering. I didn’t think I was good enough to do weddings until a friend of a friend reached out to me to create signs for her wedding. Without this first bride giving me a chance, I wouldn’t be where I am today! Wedding seating charts are my favorite — there is something therapeutic about writing names in a neat way and discovering the best pens for different surfaces. I also love being a part of someone’s vision and helping it come to life. The happiness that they have with the finished product makes it all worth it. One of my biggest growth areas was learning how to work with clients and what questions to ask to ensure I had the most accurate understanding of what they wanted. At the beginning, I was not the best at this and would find myself frustrated when I was redoing things multiple times. After consulting with friends who were in similar fields, other small business owners and artists, I learned that the responsibility was on me to know how to ask the right questions to help the client describe exactly what they are envisioning. Lately, I’ve been working on how to create without restrictions, drawing when I feel inspired, instead of producing art in hopes of gaining more traction. This mindset has unlocked a newfound joy in my art and has also given me better discernment on when to say no to projects that I know I am not a good fit for. I don’t know what direction I am hoping to end up in, which is scary for me as one who does not like to take risks. But it’s exciting at the same time, to let my own growth drive the direction of my business, instead of the other way around.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I get overwhelmed when talking about the places I love to go because I get so excited. So in an act of self-control, I will create a list of some of my favorite LA spots instead: Museums: The Getty, The Getty Villa, The Broad Rooftop bar: Broken Shaker at Freehand Los Angeles Restaurants: Tsujita LA on Sawtelle (Tsukemen – dipping style ramen), Avenue 26 in Lincoln Heights (tacos), Queen of Sheba in Inglewood (Ethiopian food), MIAN in San Gabriel (Szechuan style cuisine), Jade Wok in Chinatown (home style Chinese food) Coffee & Tea: Coffee by Kofi, Menotti’s, Bar Nine, Boba Guys
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I mentioned this in my panel question, but I would not be here today without the encouragement of my former boss, Janet from The Seashell Collection. Janet is a talented and knowledgeable Etsy shop owner who encouraged me in my gifts and graciously mentored me through the very first stages of starting my business. She was happy to share her knowledge and was so kind to me. Check out her Etsy shop for some hand-crafted beach inspired decor!
Philip Chon Photos