Alumni: Nicole Ursua, Entreprenuer

Catching up with alumnus: Nicole Ursua

Tell us what youʻve been up?
I currently work for Hawai’i Neighborhood Forests (a local non-profit organization that inspires the people of Hawai’i to care for and plant trees in their yards and communities) and Formidably Impressed (original hand lettered, letterpressed greeting cards with a hint of tomfoolery). I have also created content for the Allison Izu Brand, local realtors, and small businesses.


What inspired you to start your own small business?
I worked for a couple of corporate companies after graduating and they were all great learning experiences. But to be completely transparent, once I had a taste of freelancing, my life was changed. I had total control over everything: what my “work days” looked like, making money to help sustain my passion rather than making money for someone else, and having the opportunity to create impactful art.


What type of business do you run?

Photo shoot at Allison Izu’s

Initially, I was doing photography and videography. Most of my gigs were weddings, elopements, portrait and real estate. But then after a while, I felt a shift in the “seasons” of  my life and *ahem* the start of the pandemic really changed A LOT of things. I also found that I wanted to try out other types of “content creating” so I drafted up a plan. After setting good intentions, networking, and surrounding myself with likeminded people, I began offering social media managing and brand awareness coordinating to a couple of clients. I am very happy with this shift because I am still able to use my creative skills but in a different way with the same intentions of creating impactful art. To summarize, I am in charge of curating everything you see on social media when it comes to my clients. Things like making sure published content is “on-brand”, doing photo and video shoots, engaging with their customers/audiences, the list goes on…Not to mention, I also handle reports on analytics and create marketing strategies based on those insights.

I consider myself very lucky because my clients align with my values and the work itself doesn’t feel like work.


How has earning a degree prepared you for this?
Besides basic skills like Photoshop, InDesign, and Premier, earning a degree has prepared me for my big girl jobs by teaching me how to look at my problems in every
direction, collaborate with others, and to critically question everything. To move, think and design with a purpose.


What is the most rewarding in terms of selling your products?
The most rewarding thing would have to be seeing how much impact I can make on someone’s life through a simple photo or video edit. Another thing would be to see how much growth I have contributed to my SM clients’ social media presence.


What is the most challenging in terms of coming up with ideas?
Like I mentioned earlier, you are in total control of what you do. And it’s simply just that. You HAVE to put in the work. I understand how intimidating that sounds but that’s just the life of being an entrepreneur in ANY industry.


What advice would you give to our current students looking for their passion?
Create boundaries- Yes, you need to put in the work but you also have to learn when to say “no”. Protect your energy! It won’t hurt to take a break for a few hours or saying no to an opportunity that doesn’t align with your values.
Design thinking helps-
It’s not just some silly term that we learned in the program. Use it! It can be applied in any aspect of your daily life. Design thinking plays a big part in navigating the stormy seas of my creative career.
Don’t get caught up in trying to “find” your passion-
I think as creatives it’s easy to feel stuck. For me, right after graduating I felt like I didn’t have a passion that I could monetize or I didn’t have that “one thing” I was really good at. But being a creative means you are MALLEABLE. It’s totally okay to dabble and try different mediums out to see what you like. That is what’s fun about being a creative! If you don’t feel like something is working for you, that’s totally okay too! Keep moving and don’t be afraid to ask for help!


Thank you Nikki for sharing this valuable knowledge with our students and community! We wish you success with your business. For those of you interested in seeing Nikki’s work, please follow her on instagram at @maliasinterulde