We had the good fortune of connecting with Nikki Nuckols and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nikki, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
I unintentionally started my first business, Doodle Dog Creative, back in 2008, while doing some freelance work for small businesses in my off-hours. I was fresh out of college, working long hours as an art director at a local ad agency, mostly in exchange for beer Fridays and the occasional catered meal. Luckily, my few freelance clients quickly turned into a few more, and eventually, one asked me to send them an invoice for accounting purposes. While putting together the invoice, I quickly “doodled” a dog’s face, added the name “Doodle Dog” to the top of the page, and sent it (as if that was how you were supposed to start a business). Two years later, my freelance turned into my full-time career. The business entity was legally established, Doodle Dog Creative brought on its first employee and we settled into a niche market, helping small businesses create their brand identity, website, and online experience. During the early years work-life balance was always pretty simple, and not a concern. I was a twenty something with a boyfriend (now my husband), who was also working his way up the ladder in his career, and we both were giving it our all. I attended every networking event I could, took any client that came my way, and literally went door-to-door (in office buildings) offering my services and promoting the business. Looking back at that time, I’m so grateful that I started working for myself at such a young age when work-life balance wasn’t a challenge, because I’m fairly certain that now, as a wife and mother of two little ones, I wouldn’t be able to take the same path and balance it all. Today, a little over a decade in, I am still the Creative Director and Founder of Doodle Dog, as well as the Creative Director and Co-Founder of Click & Co. (our sister agency). Between my shared calendar with my husband (that includes all family happenings) and my work calendar for each business, my schedule is always full, but I wouln’t have it any other way. Most weekdays, I wake-up and have my “me” time at the gym at 4:30AM. As I’m getting back home, my family is getting up and I am in 100% mom mode until everyone is out the door for school. When I have the house to myself again, I am 100% in work mode from the time the team gets on Slack (the office) until quitting time. When the work day is over, my phone isn’t in my hand, I intentionally try to keep my eyes out of the inbox and focused on what matters most, my family. Over the years I’ve found that this is what works for me, focusing on a single “role” at a time. The days that my roles collide (ie. sick kid, or work event after hours, etc.) is when the schedule become difficult. As of late, having a full-house, with my husband and I both working from home, virtual school going on during COVID, and every role seeming to overlap, has been a challenge. Set office hours and designated office space (within the house) has certainly helped keep the work-life balance as much as possible during this uncertain time. In my opinion, in addition to having a structured schedule, the most important ways to keep a work-life balance are having transparency with clients (explaining expectations and availability when you start working together), and having a strong team in place, who can fill the gaps and provide what you can’t, if it’s a necessary component to your business. I have found that in most cases, our clients (especially now) are living a similar lifestyle and appreciate the boundaries.
What should our readers know about your business?
Doodle Dog Creative – Brand Design, Web Design & Digital Strategy for Small Businesses. We are unique because everything we do is in-house for our clients, we have been doing it for 10+ years and launched over 400 brands and websites. We are trusted because we provide guidance to all of our clients – from startups to evolving brands. Click & Co- Brand Design, Web Design & Digital Strategy for Small Businesses in the Luxury Design Space. We are unique because our leadership team has over 17+ years of combined experience working with architects, interior designers and builders and are able to provide an all-inclusive digital strategy and design service because of that.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Shoutout to my husband (my teammate on the homefront) and my work team! We’re only as strong as our weakest link!
Website: www.doodledog.com / www.clickandco.co
Instagram: doodledoginsta / clickandco