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Humans

Natalie Vice – Owner and designer at Sugar and Vice

You are…..
Natalie…

Yes. I know your name silly billy, tell us what you do. Tell us everything.
I own a business called Sugar and Vice, quirky homeware and gifts. All the illustrations I do I print on various items.

Wait, sorry to interrupt. Take us one step back, what were you doing before?
Okay, where to start… I have always had a keen interest in interiors and home decor and I studied interior decorating. At that time, in order to get into the industry, you had to do an internship, which I couldn’t do at the time as I wanted a steady income. So I didn’t take it any further. I started working in marketing, during that time they paid for me to go to AAA to study graphic design part-time as well as on an InDesign course. Those are the skills that very much helped me to get to where I am today, where I have been able to start my own business. The marketing experience helps my business a lot as a lot of artists don’t know how to market themselves.

Yes, that is true, most creatives don’t like being involved in the admin side of things. So everything you have done has actually been a stepping stone to this point. Sugar and Vice, the name, well I could guess, but you tell us?
The name comes from my surname, Vice and it has to do with the type of design I do, there are some sweet parts like the foxes and birds and the more vice parts like the skulls and rib cages. So it’s a combination of the two.

What inspires you?
I draw some inspiration from nature, tattoos, mandalas, patterns and textures. South Africa like Table Mountain and all the things that make South Africa great. All things that I like, it comes through.

I recently couldn’t help but buy a few things from your site all of which have birds on them, I absolutely love birds. Tell us what is your creative process?
I keep my eyes on Pinterest and I try and follow trends as well. It is important to stay trendy but also to bring your own bit of flavour. I listen to what my customers want and what they like. I jot down ideas as they come to me and start sketching and allow myself to get carried away with it. It isn’t always the first time you get it right you are always adding elements until you are satisfied with it.

So you are open to requests for particular patterns or designs?
I have had quite a few requests, I want to keep what I do authentic and to my style, so I try to work with my customers with this in mind.

Describe your style?
I don’t know, some people would say it’s like a tattoo style, a line drawing, black and white.

Do you ever get student requests to learn from you and learn from you? If someone approaches you and wants to work with you and learn from you, would you be open to that?
I have had quite a few requests, I am open to training people. I am also open to helping other entrepreneurs and collaborations…

Helping each other where you might be stronger like in social media and them helping you where their strengths lie. An almost bartering of skills. That is an important thing for people in business, we have a lot to learn from each other, we can help each other grow. There is plenty of room for everyone to thrive.
Yeah definitely that is important because it does happen that creatives get scared to share anything, we should share and learn from each other. When am always open to trade exchanges. It’s hard to be in a creative industry and make it by yourself.

Let’s talk about being a woman in business.
It has been tough at times to stay motivated, I am quite hard on myself and quite driven. I just get up and get busy and do whatever I can. There are so many woman entrepreneurs out there, a lot of the consignment stores that I stock are owned by a woman.

If someone wants to buy, where can they find your stuff?
At my online shop, it will be couriered to them. I can also drop off for collection in Cape Town. I stock 26 stores nationwide.

Two more questions and you are a free lady, give me a second for my brain to gather itself, okay done… you were named by…
The Sunday Times…

The Sunday Times, as one of the top designers to SA to watch. Let’s talk about that?
Yes, that was quite an honour to be approached…

Don’t be shy that is a great honour to be recognized like that.
Yes, I really appreciate it.

And the Mr Price collaboration you have recently done?
That was a good experience, they really support South African Designers, every few months they collaborate with designers. We had to submit a design and then they printed it on a blanket and interviewed us. I got a sample blanket which they sell in all their stores, it’s the coolest.

That’s a biggie, a very humble lady you are. Future?
I would really like to include more limited ranges and more exclusive items. I want to make my range a little bit smaller and have shorter runs of designs to constantly be bringing in new and fresh stuff.  I get a lot of requests for Tee’s so I would love to start doing t-shirts, babygrows with skulls on. I also want to start breaking into the international market. International trade shows, but that’s next year after the wedding…

You did this to yourself… the wedding… now we want to know, what… a wedding, you are getting married… what?

Yes, I am.

Who, what? You opened the door…
I am closing it, just kidding, I don’t know what to say, he is an amazing guy. He is really supportive and I am grateful to have him in my life. He allows me to follow my dreams and build my business. I am really looking forward to our wedding.

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