Nicki Louise James is a Brand and Business coach, helping ambitious female entrepreneurs become visible and their businesses sky-rocket because their visual messaging is aligned with who they are. As an expert in brand storytelling and strategy Nicki has transformed the fortunes of many women. But to get to where she is today, Nicki has had to overcome bullying throughout her life. She also had a tough childhood, which could have so easily taken her down a different path. Inspiring those who work with her and know her – here is Nicki’s entrepreneurial story of how she channelled the negativity to fuel her success:
As a child, I remember hiding from the bailiffs because of the antics of my ‘wheeler-dealer’ father, who was also a violent alcoholic. By the time I was seven, my mum decided to leave him and up until the age of 11, to ensure our safety from him, we never lived in one place longer than a few months.
The first half of secondary school, I remember being called a teacher’s pet and was bullied for my looks. But I’d already had to ignore how my father would talk to me at times, so it just made me work harder and ignore them. Without realising it at the time, I used the support I had from both my Mum and my Grandma Betty, to prove them all wrong. I dug my heels in and decided to make a success of my life.
I’ve always had a passion for art and knew that I wanted to study graphic design. By doing so, I became the first person in my family to go to university. I remember vividly the day that I graduated and I was wheeling Betty along in her wheelchair and she was beaming with pride. A photograph taken of us both on that day is one that I will always treasure.
I soon started working for magazines including National Geographic Traveller and Health & Fitness magazine. It was a difficult time in the print industry and I was made redundant four times in four years. That definitely helped build my resilience even more. By the time I was 27, I’d become the Art Editor at Olive Magazine, but knew that something was missing. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what.
Just before she died Betty took me to one side and told me I was destined for greater things. In her memory, I launched Betty Lou Design, a successful wedding stationery brand.
As soon as I was able to match my earnings from the business, I left the world of magazines behind and thankfully the long commute to and from Hammersmith. Not long afterwards, after working with my own Business coach, I began my current company, B by Nicki (formally Branding by Nicki). Publicly, the B stands for Brand, Business and Beyond. But on a more personal level the B stands for one of my greatest cheerleaders, Betty.
Within nine months of launching, I started earning six figures and am now set to triple that having just had my first £30k month in April.
My mum nearly fell off her chair when I told her what I’d managed to do.
But for me, it’s not just about the design, it’s about getting to know my clients and being able to deliver an amazing brand that truly reflects them and everything they stand for. What makes me happiest of all is being able to guide them through their journey so they also have a much clearer understanding of business strategy. By the time they finish working with me, they know the importance of getting visible, why the know, like and trust factors are so important and how they have to face any fears and do it anyway as that is when some of the best things happen.
When I was looking to up-level my business, getting visible was a game-changer for me.
Like many things as entrepreneurs, it’s on us. We can all talk the talk about visibility but if we don’t walk the walk, it won’t make a difference. Personally, I used to have a real fear of going live and putting myself out there. I even had a nervous blink which suddenly appeared. But I knew it was something I had to do. So I embraced the fear and did it anyway. I just went for it. Now I’m visible all the time, I don’t even think twice, and I can honestly say it’s one of the biggest reasons I am where I am today.
The most important things to me are honesty, authenticity and integrity and I honestly believe this is why I attract the kind of clients that I do.
Even if you were to ask me now, I’d still say I’m nothing special and if I can do it, so can you. But always at the back of my mind are those words from my Grandma Betty. And in her memory, I will continue to strive to be the best version of myself that I can be. After all, she would expect nothing less.
Nicki works with ambitious female entrepreneurs globally to help them get visible and be able to tell their story through the power of brand and business strategy. She also supports an online community of like-minded women in her Facebook group; The B Studio. It’s designed to help business owners gain clarity around their messaging and align them with their ideal clients.
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Nicki’s Facebook Group The B Studio can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/thebstudio/