For those of you that do not know about Nolii, we are a collective of London-based creatives, makers and technologists, on a mission to make everyday technology tools better through intuitive, effortless design.
Our intention with Nolii has always been to design for real people. We aim to simplify; take away where others add; to design less, but better; and improve people’s every day. Of course, there were challenges, but in many ways, 2020 couldn’t have been a more relevant time to bring Nolii to market.
After two years in the making, Nolii was on the verge of launching at the beginning of 2020 when Covid hit China. Our factories closed and our cash flow and supply chain were severely hampered. We could have held back, but we pushed forward, bringing the brand to market a few months later than intended in September 2020. Despite the adversity, we refused to give up. Covid or not, we strongly believed our products would fulfil a need that was not currently being met — providing people with better everyday tools, so they can do better things in the world.
Nolii was created to solve problems and to drive simplicity through design, allowing our community to do more with their devices and help streamline their busy lifestyles.
We are obsessed with design and have a single-mindedness about what our products should look like. Look at any mobile accessories store and what do you see? My guess is a lot of black and grey. Tech should be colourful. It should be more human. It’s omnipresent in all of our lives, so why shouldn’t it look amazing, as well as fulfilling our everyday needs from a functional perspective?
No matter the environment, my advice for aspiring entrepreneurs would be to just get your product out there. Ultimately, you can hypothesise, plan, and strategise as much as you want — and there’s plenty of merit in doing that — but until your product is on the market, you don’t know anything. Everyone is on their devices right now, so use this opportunity to listen and engage with your customer. Ask them what they need? Ask them what they want?
If I’ve learnt anything about Nolii’s journey to market, it’s to be adaptable. Be ready for change. For us, it was switching our entire strategy to direct-to-consumer when retail channels were no longer available to us. With the right mindset and the right people around you, being able to pivot is crucial.
Nurturing strong relationships is something that can’t be understated. As a highly technical, thoughtfully designed brand, nothing is more important to us than getting production and product quality right. One of our biggest challenges was to set up a supply chain from scratch. So much goes into a Nolii product — a sort of happy marriage between machine, as well as handcraft. Having established such robust relationships with the factories and development partners, you are really able to challenge the status quo in terms of product development.
If the pandemic has taught us anything, I’m sure for most of us we’ve discovered how resilient we are. And on a business level, no year has thrown more curveballs than 2020. The nature of a creative, or an entrepreneur, is to find a way through things. Yes, we probably made mistakes. Yes, no doubt we could have done some things differently, but when odds were stacked against us, we still made something happen.
The future looks bright for Nolii. We’re in market, we’re building a brand and a community. We’re constantly looking at how to deliver experiences and products that improve the end-user’s experience and search for ways to bring new archetypes to market. Colour isn’t an afterthought for us; it’s a central part of our creative process. Our take on tech is bright, fun and irreverent.