West Coast entrepreneur, Nina Corrie has always had a bit of an independent streak.
Even as a child, when people suggested traditional careers to her like teaching or nursing, she wondered why limitations were being put on her dreams. From her Vancouver office, the enthusiastic multiple business owner recounts, “Teaching and nursing are admirable career paths and I would encourage anyone who’s passionate about them to pursue them with everything they’ve got. But as a kid I remember thinking, these can’t really be my only options. And as it turned out, they weren’t.”
This commitment to her own vision of what she could become has defined Nina’s life and work. She has been creating her own destiny, setting her own goals, and exceeding her own high expectations of herself ever since.
After studying marketing and small business development at BCIT and working for a time in the corporate sector, in 1999, she made the bold decision to start her first graphic and web design company. Running her own business provided her with new challenges and new opportunities, including a chance to travel. “Just like work, I had a hard deadline,” she laughs. “I was eligible for the Eurail Youth Pass until I was 26. I was already 25, so the clock was ticking.”
It was while backpacking through Europe, that Nina got the inspiration for an even bolder venture when, in Barcelona, she happened upon a kiosk providing tourists with airbrushed temporary tattoos. “One of the reasons I went to Europe was to look for new ideas,” she explains. “This was new, it was fun, and I thought it had a lot of upside.” Nina’s training, background, and intuitive business savvy got her thinking big right from the get-go. “I immediately thought of logos,” she recalls. “I realized this could be a fun, interactive way to help other companies with their branding and marketing strategies.” After returning home and engaging in a thorough cost analysis and risk assessment of her plan, she started Tattoos For Now. (www.tattoosfornow.com )
Within the few months, the company had made back in sales the initial capital investment. “I was the first to bring this service to Western Canada, which was one of the reasons it was so successful so quickly. It was exciting. I knew right away I was onto something here,” she recalls with a grin.
Not everyone agreed. “At first my parents were concerned,” she remembers. “Their daughter giving up a good job in the corporate sector to become a freelance graphic designer had been tough enough on them. But airbrushed tattoos? They’d never even heard of them. I’d done my market research, though, and eventually convinced them it was a smart move.” Once again, she was right. What started small with a big vision has, over the last decade, become the leading company of its kind in Canada.
In growing her business, Nina’s focus has always been on aligning her own goals with those of her corporate clients: forging mutually beneficial partnerships that help them realize their marketing and branding strategies, particularly at special events.
Tattoos For Now has also given her a chance to give back to the community by their services to charitable causes, including BC Children’s Hospital, BC Adoptive Agencies, Big Brothers, BC Cancer and Easter Seals.
Rather than rest on her laurels, Nina has continued to expand her business interests with a partnership in Beyond Sound Photo Booth (www.beyondsoundphotobooth.com ), in providing another fun and interactive service at special events. The portable photo booths provide guests at special events the opportunity to create and capture memories with fun props and a photograph to take home. “It’s a lot of fun,” she says. “What I love most about the photo booths is getting to see how much people enjoy our service. It quite literally makes them smile.”
More recently, she has also rebranded her graphic and web design company, using her knowledge and experience to mentor other entrepreneurs on how to build and grow their own businesses. Now called Business Assist Canada (www.businessassistcanada.com ), its mandate is to help other companies increase sales by improving the quality of their marketing materials and social media profiles, and by showing them how to better drive traffic to their websites.
“I’ve learned a lot from my 15 years as a business owner – what to do, and maybe more importantly, what not to do,” she remarks. If I could, I’d just keep starting up more and more businesses, but there are only so many hours in a day. Business Assist Canada allows me to stay involved in this part of the process by helping others do it. I love being able to pass on what I know to help people achieve and exceed their goals.”
The irony that she is now essentially teaching and helping others, as was once suggested to her, is not lost on Nina. “That’s the thing, though – the path I’ve chosen has given me so many opportunities to give back, to pass on what I’ve learned, and to be of service to others. So if I have any advice for women, particular South Asian women, it’s to pursue your own dreams, even if they’re less traditional ones. You can create your own path, have fun, and have a rewarding and purposeful life in the process. It’s really kind of simple. If you do what you love, you’ll love what you do. That, to me, is success.”