An attitude for gratitude
Graphic designer Nicky Perry uses beautiful stationery to promote mental wellness
Designing a journal to bring more happiness into people’s lives inspired a lifestyle blogger to create Awesome Inc and turn her hobby into a brand
Nicky Perry was running a lifestyle blog when she hit on the idea of making a gratitude journal. Her friend and business partner, Rebekah (Bex) Lipp, had experienced mental health issues and had used such a journal for years, yet felt guilty when she missed filling in a day. The design Nicky conceived has no dates, a happiness scale to track moods, space for affirmations, and colouring-in pages to capture the trend towards mindfulness.
Why do you think it’s important to be grateful?
There are hundreds of studies which show that practising gratitude increases positive emotions, reduces the risk of depression and anxiety, improves relationship satisfaction, and increases resilience in the face of stressful events.
It strengthens the neural pathways in your brain so it becomes easier and more natural to find the positives. The more you focus on the good stuff, the more you see the good stuff, and in turn appreciate the little joys in everyday life that we often take for granted.
Have you always kept a journal?
I’ve always kept sketchbooks rather than journals. I’m a visual person and like beautiful contemporary stationery, so the gratitude diaries I’d previously come across seemed very hippie-like. That’s one reason why I didn’t want to put ‘Gratitude Journal’ on the front of my designs.
As for practising gratitude, I’d been doing it in another way for a long time. My husband and I often ask our kids around the dinner table, “What was something awesome that happened today?” or “Tell me two things that made you happy today.” Without realising it, I was already doing it.
Who designs the journals?
Me! I majored in graphic design at university and have a degree in fine arts, and 20-plus years working as a graphic designer. I love creating things and find it so satisfying seeing a project come together – especially when I get feedback from people who experience such a positive change in their outlook on life, or see distinct changes in their children.
You recently won Next magazine’s Her Own Boss award. What has made Awesome Inc’s products so successful?
Bringing science and research into the business has helped immensely. It has helped to show that [the benefits are] authentic; it’s not just another fad.
I also work with professionals who are experts in the fields of building resilience, mindfulness and nutrition. So although gratitude journals are the core product, there is a heap of information
on the website geared around practical resources with tools and tips on how to create a happier life.
I think another reason for our success is that we’re so passionate about our ‘why’ – because of Bex’s personal experience, and my own discoveries. The more I learn from all the information I’m absorbing, the more I want to share that with others and reach people before they are in crisis.
Adventure features strongly in this issue of NADIA. How important is it to you to keep pushing the boundaries in both life and business?
I am not a natural risk-taker but I feel every day that I am pushing the boundaries in what I think I can do and what can be achieved. Every couple of months I sit back and go, “Wow! Look how far I have come!”
I recently made the decision to buy Bex out of her half of Awesome Inc because she wanted to take a step back to spend more time with her family. It was a scary decision for both of us, and I had to do a lot of soul-searching. I was suddenly faced with investing a lot more than I had planned – time, energy and money.
So this is my adventure! I’ve got a lot more to lose now it’s all on me, but I also have a lot more to gain if I can make my dreams happen.
Where to next for the company?
Currently the hero products are the gratitude journals for kids and adults, but I also have resilience training available, in the form of an online e-course called The Resilience Toolkit. This was written for Awesome Inc by educational psychologist Juliet Battersby, who has taught resilience in the New Zealand Defence Force.
Gratitude is just one tool in the resilience-building toolkit and I am working hard on collaborating with others on things like healthy nutrition and sleep habits, exercise, meditation, mindfulness and mindset, to expand what I have available and also hold more events and workshops.
What are your personal goals?
I would love to become a leader in bringing resilience-building tools to all New Zealanders and Australians, including into schools and organisations. It is great that the conversation is changing around mental health but people just don’t know where to go for help unless they are in crisis, and even then mental health services are under so much pressure.
I want Awesome Inc to be the place where people go to make positive change and access tools, techniques and resources BEFORE they are at crisis point.