Let’s start with who you are? Tell us a bit about yourself.
I'm Natalie White, and I am the creative behind Magic Fingers Graphics. For as long as I can remember, I've always been drawing, creating and designing something. My mum was a sign writer and window display dresser, and my dad was a graphic artist. I used to live in Cambridge, in the mighty Waikato, and we recently moved to the Far North after lockdown. When I say The Far North, I'm closer to Cape Reinga than I am Kaitaia!
And what is Magic Fingers Graphics Tell us more.
I create authentic brands and Rocketspark websites for small businesses. Magic Fingers Graphics is now a second generation family business. My dad started the company in the early 70s, long before computers were used for graphics. He did everything (brochures, labels, signs, you name it) all by hand, hence the name. When he decided to retire, I took over the business and totally rebuilt it from scratch. I became a web design partner with Rocketspark, who built an amazing web platform. They are based in Cambridge NZ, so you know you're truly supporting local! I don't work "for" them, but I use their CMS to build award-winning websites to make it easy and simple for my clients.
What encouraged you to start your business?
I have always dreamed of running my own business... knowing I could help out the smaller "fish" in business, was such a rewarding thought. My goal is to empower people with their websites and brands to let them be able to give things a go. It's draining on people to be someone who 'takes', being able to 'give', is always going to be more beneficial to everyone.
What did you do before creating your business? Tell us your journey from there to here.
I've always had a strong work ethic - I got my first job when I was 14, cleaning! While studying for a Bachelor of Computer Graphic Design at Waikato Uni, I worked as a party hostess, kitchen supervisor & café barista, interior colour consultant, an in-house junior designer. Over the years, I've also travelled the world, working in Canada, Australia and volunteered in a life-changing trip to Tanzania for 4 weeks.... I'd been to 36 countries before I had enough of planes!
The most beneficial job however - was the graphic & web design one I got straight out of uni. I graduated before I was 21, when iPhones hadn't been released in NZ. It was here that I worked for an amazing boss who taught me a lot of what I know now. I kinda grew up in that business. Over the course of a decade, day-to-day runnings of a busy little agency meant that I soaked up the ins and outs of biz things without realising it. I absorbed skills & techniques; learnt from some mistakes, learnt how to deal with clients (the good and the bad!) and manage a team. Oh, and somewhere in the middle of all that, I wrote, illustrated and published a children's book called, Ferguson's Night Fright.
It's not until I look back on it, I see really how far I have come and how much of a blessing that job was. I was probably one of the few under 30's who has held the same job for 10 years...! I left the job not long after my boss sold the business.
It was time to go out on my own, and that's when I picked up what little was left of my Dad's business. He took care of his last couple clients and I had a blank slate to build up. My husband and I had our little girl mid-2019, and I took about 10 months off, focusing on what we needed to do with her. Unfortunately I also got really sick after she was born, which knocked me back for quite a few months. I picked my biz up again at the end of 2019 and have been running since.
Knowing what you know now. What would be one piece of advice would you give your 21 year old self?
It's OK to do stuff by yourself. Take that opportunity, you never know how much it could change you.
What are some of the highs and lows of running your business?
Some of the lows - Wearing ALL the hats. I give my accountant a fair share of work to do, as I can't stand numbers, or have time for them. Not being credited for work that I do (seldom, but all creatives know this one is a ripper).
Some of the highs - making time for my family and important things. To be part of someone's business journey and help them make a profit is so rewarding to see. When a potential new client says "Oh, I saw you did (XYZ's) design project and I loved it, I want one!"
What's the biggest lesson you have learnt in your small business?
To TRUST my gut feelings. If I get the hint of a red flag feeling, I'm out - it's not you, it's me. A red flag relationship never bodes well.
What’s one piece of advice you would share with someone starting out?
Have a little bit of faith - even as small as a mustard seed, and you'll move mountains.
What do you love most about your business?
Literally creating. I LOVE creating stuff, from a new brand / elements / colour palettes / website designs and usability, it just gives me such a buzz.
Share 5 things that bring you joy?
Our little girl (she's one and cheeky!);
The little things my hubby does for me;
Knowing I helped someone out (creatively or not);
Cooking good food;
Being able to live rurally and on the coast.
What do you do for some time out or when you need a break from your biz? What resets that light inside you?
I usually take my little girl for a walk, we live on a large beef farm with a private access road through the paddocks and pine forests, and it is so peaceful to walk down. Or, I zip down to the beach with hubby and get a dose of salty air and cold toes! I also try to remember that we create our own stress and pressures, so at the end of the day if someone's not going to keel over, it'll be OK.
Coffee or Tea?
Flat white with almond milk!
How do you balance business life + motherhood?
If anyone had the answer to this, I doubt daycares would exist!! There's only so many balls you can juggle, and sometimes it's OK to let one or two drop. You can always pick them up again. I will be honest and say that my clients give me some grace if I ask for it. We juggle a little bit more than the average family, as our daughter has a form of Spina Bifida and that requires a few more hospital trips or specialist visits every now and then. Working and living 24/7 on a beef farm is demanding at times too, so we just take each day as it comes.
What's one quote you are always drawn to?
"Build a longer table, not a higher fence."
It's hanging in my kitchen as reminder to bless others with our grace.
What can we expect from your biz in the future?
I can't tell you all my secrets! Haha! Nah, there's probably a couple ideas sitting on the backburner, so only time will tell if they see the light of day. In the meantime, I'm enjoying the journey.