Cheshire's Nina Daniels, of Nina D design, celebrates the united power of women on International Women's Day

Nina Daniels at her drawing desk

Nina Daniels credits the support of other women in business with helping in her own success - Credit: Joe Roper

Women who run their own businesses face challenges many men don’t, but also, perhaps, have resources those same men won’t.

International Women's Day, this year on 8 March, is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Nobody would argue that great progress hasn’t been made over the last decades, but while The Office for National Statistics can still report that, among full time employees, the gender pay gap in April 2021 was 7.9%, there is still work to be done. What is really interesting is that there remains a large difference in gender pay gap between employees aged 40 years and over and those aged below 40 years, a disappointing legacy of a bad situation when those of us over 40 started work, perhaps, but good news for our daughters. 

One woman who has taken control of her own financial destiny is Nina Daniels, who established her own business, Nina D, wholly because she needed to set her own hours and work her own way, to support her nine-year-old son as the sole parent. 

Table mats with illustration of rows of tall Swedish houses with people carrying umbrellas

The Karlaplan design reflects the open park plaza in Östermalm, the very exclusive upper east district of central Stockholm - Credit: Joe Roper

Nina grew up in Stockholm, Sweden, and came to the UK 25 years ago to study theatre design. After a 13-year career designing window displays and floor layouts for luxury retailers in London, she married and started a family in 2013. Sadly, the marriage didn't last and Nina decided to start afresh, but where should she live where she could raise her son as a single parent, with great schools, a city close by (but not all-enveloping) and air links to Sweden for visits to family? Altrincham was the answer, and Nina and her son Lukas moved north for a brand new start. 

‘I worked part-time,’ Nina says, ‘to allow for Lukas’s needs with school, etc. However, tragically, in 2019 Lukas’s father died suddenly. I was left then with no support in school holidays, or on any weekends, and had to quit my job. I thought hard about what I needed to do to make it all work, and decided working for myself was the only option, but what?’ 

The answer came to Nina while visiting family in Sweden. 

Grey table mat with scattered yellow leaf-like print

The Stortorget design is inspired by the colours of Stockholm's Old Town - Credit: Joe Roper

‘I was standing in my favourite department store, looking at place mats, and thought “I can do this.” Growing up, setting the table and dining together was an important part of our day, and it’s the same now. No telephones, no distractions, just family gathered together. The dining table is a destination, not an interruption to the day. I decided to create a collection of table mats, coasters, trays and table linen, all inspired by my childhood in Sweden.’ 

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Using her knowledge of high-end retail, Nina found a small factory in the UK making the best quality placemats and coasters, sourced her beautiful birchwood serving trays from a maker in Sweden and uses a small, family-run business in Lithuania for her table linen, which is all hand embroidered with her company name.  

‘Everything from product to service is very personal, high quality. I build relationships, get to know my customers, and they come back time and again to add to their collection and for gifts. 

Rich dark green table mats with bright blue slpodges

Skogshyddan is named after Nina's family summerhouse which is surrounded by tall pine tree forests and dark blue sky - Credit: Joe Roper

‘As a woman, I think that relationship building is something that comes naturally and that applies to my whole business experience. I am part of an amazing network of other women in business I can tap into; in support groups, in training courses and through mentoring. We all have immense respect for one another and understand what we are all doing every day juggling children, home and business needs. It’s wonderful to have this degree of support to call on when I need, and to be there to support in turn.’ 

It was through a female business mentor that Nina came to be awarded a place on BusinessLive’s “22 To Watch In 2022” list. 

‘I am so proud. She was my mentor through the NatWest Accelerator Programme, was contacted by BusinessLive to ask for her recommendations, and she nominated my business. It has had an immediate effect, putting me on the map this year – and I shall be presenting my story at the Trafford Business Start-Up network this month and hope to inspire other women to follow their dream, too.’