Being an entrepreneur and small business owner, I love to hear success stories of talented people who started companies, with the goal to make a difference and to to bring something new to the market; people driven by a vision, a passion, a curiosity, and a determination; people with a mission.
Today I would like to introduce you to Nicola Fanstone, a fellow Canadian with a mission to bring more Scandinavian design to North America. Her desire to start her own online shop came from an unexpected trip to Helsinki, where she fell in love with the beautiful and simple products she discovered. For Blackthumb Decor she selects affordable items from well-known brands, as well as from upcoming designers.
Before you head over to browse her shop, learn more about Nicola and her enthusiasm for Nordic design with this little Q&A.
Q: Tell us a little about yourself / Who are you, and what do you do?
A: I’m a Canadian Architectural Technologist / Designer who was born in Thurso, Scotland, worked in Hong Kong, lives in Europe and the creator of Blackthumb Décor, a Scandinavian inspired web shop based in North America. Sounds complicated when I put it like that! I studied Architectural Technology and Interior Design before relocating to Hong Kong where I worked for an interior design firm and had the privilege to work on high-end office designs throughout Asia Pacific with incredibly talented designers. I’ve always loved unique home décor and feel very thankful to have the opportunity to start Blackthumb and bring the beautiful products we’ve found throughout Scandinavian to door steps in North America
Bottle Grinders by Menu
Q: What inspired you to start your shop?
A: I wanted to start my own business, especially after living and working in Hong Kong, it really is an inspiring place for entrepreneurs but the big push came when I ended up on an unexpected trip to Helsinki. My husband and I found ourselves there when we were en route for a vacation to Turkey and thought we’d take advantage of it by spending a few days there and I’m so glad we did. I saw so many beautiful products and designs that I had not seen in North America and that was when I decided to open Blackthumb.
Q: What sets your shop aside from its competitors?
A: At Blackthumb we’ve created a space that encompasses a world of shopping and inspiration in one, we want people to come and find some beautiful new products for their home but also to relax, have a read of some of our blog posts and get inspired! Even though we operate online we still want to create a sense of community, even if it’s a virtual one.
Prints by (by) Garmi
Q: Who or what influences your style? To what do you attribute your wonderful aesthetic?
A: A lot of what influences my style is functionality and clever design. I attribute a lot of my aesthetic style to my past work, working with a group of top designers creating stunning corporate offices that were modern, simple and functional – it was very inspiring. I’ve always been impressed with beautiful space that fulfill needs and solve problems that fits right in line with the Scandinavian sentiment. I really can’t get into clumsy, intrusive designs.
Q: How do you find the pieces/products for your store?
A: I attend trade fairs in Scandinavia, network with bloggers and other industry influencers, as well as travel throughout Scandinavia to meet and seek out new designers and brands. I’m actually on a plane to Copenhagen as I write this and very excited to seek out new designers and brands while I’m there.
Felt storage basket by Sne Design
Q: What are the biggest challenges you face with running your own store?
A: With any startup there is always something that needs to be done, the biggest challenge right now is setting a schedule that allows me to still have downtime to relax and regroup.
Q: What do you love most about having your own store?
A: I really love finding new products, meeting new designers and all the challenges that come with owning your own business, but the thing I probably love the most is helping customers find pieces they will love and have for many years.
Tea towels by ferm LIVING
Q: What are you proud of?
A: I’m proud of the work I’ve done so far, I think it’s important to try to remember milestones as they come (I’m not very good at that) but I’d say I’m most proud of the wonderful feedback we’ve received from our customers, making them happy makes us happy!
Q: Do you have any special projects in the pipeline or exciting future plans?
A: We’re very excited that we will soon stock a very well-known and highly sought after Scandinavian brand to the store very soon, to give you a hint it rhymes with Jay!
Tray by Nur Design
Q: What are your favorite pieces/products at the moment?
A: That’s a great question, I really love everything in the store but my top three right now would be the Normann Copenhagen Tint Throw Blanket, it just keeps looking better with age! The Kreativitum Hands Up Collection, these prints are a lot of fun and so original! And lastly the Consilium Vase by Scandinaviaform is perfect for picking summer flowers and displaying it beautifully at home!