My Working Day – Nina Daniels – Founder of NINA D

As the leader of a company, you are there to set an example, to lead and inspire a team of individuals to achieve a series of business goals. But how do these business leaders go about their daily routine? Business Leader spoke to Nina Daniels, Founder of NINA D, about her working day.

What time do you wake up?

My alarm is set for 6.30 am which gives me a couple of hours to get ready and quickly check on any wholesale, or direct customer orders received overnight. The table is laid for breakfast from the night before, so it is nice and easy in the morning. This is a routine I have carried on from my own family and upbringing back home in Sweden.

What do you typically have for breakfast?

I grew up in Scandinavia and we are probably quite well known for starting our day with a healthy wholesome breakfast, often laid out on the table continental style. I normally have a bowl of cereal topped with fresh berries, such as blueberries or raspberries and a handful of mixed nuts. A coffee is vital for my daily start! I often grind coffee beans and make my coffee in a cafetière and the aroma is lovely in the kitchen.

What is the rest of your morning routine?

Once we have had our breakfast and got ourselves ready, I briefly check my emails for any business orders, in case I need to quickly adjust my tasks for the day. Thereafter, I take my son to school which is a pleasant 10-minute walk through our local botanical park in Altrincham. We often walk together with friends and parents, which makes me appreciate what a great community we live in.

How do you prioritise your day’s work?

Business orders of my homeware collections are prioritised to be completed first. On a Monday morning, I map out tasks for each day of the week such as meetings, PR and designing new products. Each day can rapidly change at little notice, so I have to swiftly re-arrange my tasks, making sure high-priority work is tackled first. As I am a full-time single parent, working from my studio at home, my daily overall structure is led by my son’s school hours. Certain tasks are best carried out within these hours and some tasks can be addressed once my son is back home.

Do you plan meetings or are they a waste of time?

Meetings are great and I make sure to schedule them whenever the opportunity arises. As I work by myself in my studio, heading out for a meeting is refreshing and inspiring. Whether the meeting is about a creative collaboration or discussing manufacturing with a supplier, I always return to my studio with a fresh perspective on my business.

Do you have a working lunch or do you take a break?

Taking a break for lunch is very important to me. The morning could have been spent in front of the computer so breaking away from the desk to have some lunch and often a 20-minute walk for fresh air gets me ready for the afternoon. In Sweden, a mid-morning coffee break called ‘Fika’ and a proper lunch break are traditions we strictly follow in order to maintain a well-balanced working day.

When does your working day end?

I pause my work for the school run at 3 pm and finish my working day around 5.30 pm when it is time to prepare supper. My son joins me in the kitchen by setting the table with placemats, cutlery and glasses whilst I prepare our meal. This is our quality time, seated by the table enjoying our food and catching up on how the day has been. Mealtimes are free from screens and devices so we are not distracted and able to communicate.

How do you prepare for the next day’s work?

I check through my planning for the day which I set out at the start of the week. I often move tasks around making sure my priorities are up to date for the next day. Around my studio, I often dot small highlighted notes from the main weekly planner, making sure I don’t miss anything for the next day – which my son finds amusing!

What’s your favourite piece of technology?

Whilst my Mac and iPhone are necessary for my business, my favourite piece of technology is my Mother’s Swedish bicycle with a basket at the front and peddle break. Whenever the weather permits, I will cycle to the post office with my customer orders or for pleasure with my son.

How do you switch off?

Once dinner is cleared and the kitchen is tidied up, I call my father in Sweden to hear how he is keeping, or I will read a magazine to keep up to date with the latest trends. This new year’s resolution was to make sure I do not work late in the evenings, in order to improve my work/life balance. My son also enjoys reading, so we often snuggle up on the sofa together with books and magazines.

What is the best piece of advice you have received?

In my early twenties, I lived and worked in London as a Visual Merchandiser for Burberry. It was a steep learning curve as you had to follow the brand’s strict display guidance, making sure the store was immaculately presented and changing the window displays on a tight schedule once the store was closed for the day. I found this early stage in my career quite overwhelming.

My Manager had a meeting with me and asked, ‘Nina, how do you eat an elephant? You cut it up into tiny pieces and bit by bit you will do it’. Metaphorically, when something feels too challenging or stressful, I remember to divide the task into smaller compartments. I then focus on each one at a time, so it is not too overwhelming in my mind.