Some people treat themselves to a holiday when they have wedding gift money to spend. Some use the money for a new three-piece suite for the living room. Adele MacKinnon did something a little different - she started a wall graphics business
Milton Keynes-based Nutmeg Studio is truly a business created out of love. The company was initially founded as Nutmeg Wallart in 1999 when Adele MacKinnon and her husband invested some of their savings and wedding gift money to purchase a Roland CAMM-1 GR-640 vinyl cutter and an Apple Mac computer and began offering printed graphics to local businesses.
Adele MacKinnon explains: “After leaving college I initially worked for a couple of signage companies, finally settling at Technical Signs in Watford where I met my husband. I left work to have my first child and began to work freelance, with my husband cold-calling high street businesses every Friday to source me work!”
Adele and her family then moved to Bedfordshire and – with the arrival of their second child – the Roland DG machine became virtually redundant as she focused on raising her young family. The Roland DG cutter was put in the loft for a number of years and Adele contemplated on selling it on a number of occasions.
In September 2010 – as the pressures of raising a young family eased – Nutmeg Studio was resurrected. According to Adele: “We dug the cutter out of the loft after many years in retirement and it still worked perfectly! I used the Roland DG CAMM-1 product for vinyl graphics to decorate my daughter’s bedroom with personalised wall stickers. Friends and family saw these and encouraged me to sell them online, which I did initially via eBay.”
A friend of Adele's let her know about notonthehighstreet.com, a retailer of quirky, cool and top-quality products made by independent craftspeople. She says: “I subsequently sent in three examples of my work and – to my surprise – was accepted as one of their suppliers. I began expanding my range of wall stickers and other companies began to stock them – from small independent retailers to the likes of QVC.”
For the past three years, Adele and her small team have been based in a studio in Milton Keynes designing and manufacturing an extensive range of wall art stickers for a wide variety of businesses, including a brand stocked by John Lewis.
Sales have increased at a rate of 50% year on year and have enabled Adele to invest in new equipment. Nutmeg Studio purchased the Roland VersaCAMM SP-300i printer/cutter in March 2015, alongside a Hotronix Auto Open Clam heat press, which led to the expansion of the product line with the addition of full-colour wall stickers and graphics, and printed t-shirts.
The company now offers an extremely broad range of printed and personalised products to businesses and end-users alike – one of the most popular products being iPhone charger stickers which were dreamt up by Adele when she got fed up of her daughters stealing her charger and denying that they had! When the stickers where marketed online, the response was amazing; the iPhone charger stickers became Nutmeg’s best-selling product to date.
Adele adds: “Buying the VersaCAMM was a life saver when it came to the iPhone stickers as initially we were cutting the names out of vinyl and weeding them. With the addition of the VersaCAMM SP-300i, we were able to print and cut them seamlessly, reducing production time considerably.”
Delivering quality results
On working with Roland DG technology, Adele says: “Simply put, having worked with Roland DG machines for many years, they are reliable machines that deliver quality results. The technology is simple to use, and we are always confident in the quality of the end result.”
Having recently attended the Roland DG Academy Intermediate Digital Print course at the company’s Clevedon headquarters, Adele has been further inspired. She concludes: “I am now working on a range of off-the-shelf retail window graphics and will be investing in new Roland DG technology as I continue to expand Nutmeg Studio’s product offerings.”
Nutmeg Studios’ success hasn’t gone unnoticed. In January 2019, the were awarded a special commendation as part of the Roland Hero competition. The competition which was open to Roland users across Europe attracted entries from the entire Roland customer base but of course, not everyone could walk away with a prize. Nutmeg Studios’ work stood out from the crowd, earning them a well-deserved Highly Commended trophy.
But that was just the first accolade of 2019 - in February, Adele proudly added another trophy to Nutmeg Studios’ awards cabinet. In association with University of Buckingham, the SME MK and Buckinghamshire Business Awards seek to recognise exceptional businesses across Milton Keynes and Buckinghamshire. Against some strong competition, Nutmeg were named Best Enterprising Business, much to Adele’s amazement “I can’t believe it,” she says, “I still have to pinch myself that I won.”
It’s onwards and upwards for Nutmeg Studios and we’re excited to see where Adele’s journey will take her next. If you want to find out more about Nutmeg, you can visit nutmegwallartstickers.co.uk or see some of their work on their Instagram account.