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Small NI Businesses in Lockdown: The Artist Edition with Nifty Notebooks NI

About Claire Taggart

Claire Taggart is a designer and illustrator from Northern Ireland. She has always had a love of stationary and witty quotes and with the encouragement of her parents she launched her own stationary business 'Nifty Notebooks' in January 2018. All Nifty Notebooks products which include A5 notebooks, colourful postcards, custom badges, stickers and greeting cards are made using Claire's own hand-drawn designs. As a self confessed stationary addict Claire ensures her products are reflective of the stationary she would use herself.

In addition to running the business, Claire is also a paralympic athlete in the sport of Boccia. She represented Team GB at the 2016 Rio Paralympics and has won multiple gold medals at British and European level. All being well Claire hopes to compete in the rescheduled Tokyo 2021 games.

Adapting to Lockdown

Tokyo 2020 Rescheduled

Lockdown came a few weeks earlier for Claire following the rescheduling of the paralympic games which were originally due to start on the 24th of August 2020. As a result she had to readjust her schedule and priorities. Having a severe physical disability also meant that it was necessary for Claire to enter a period of self isolation. In a effort to keep herself busy Claire directed her focus to the growth of her small business Nifty Notebooks.

The First Colouring Book

With more time to be creative Claire worked on new designs and illustrations which led her to launch a collection of colouring pages which were free for people to download and print.

These were later compiled into a 20 page A5 colouring book, with £1 of every sale donated to 'Aware NI', the depression charity for Northern Ireland and the only charity working exclusively for people with depression and bipolar disorder.

The colouring book proved to be incredibly popular which Claire attributes to people seeking something to do and focus on during lockdown.

"Colouring books and notebooks are perfect to fill your time in a creative manner" -

Claire Taggart

Raising Awareness & Giving Back

Claire has always wanted her artwork to "give back" and help those in need and this motivated her to launch the 'Mental Health Enamel Mug Campaign' with £1 from every mug sold donated to either Aware NI or The Rainbow Project charities.

In September, she designed the 'Disability shouldn't mean Disadvantage" pin to raise awareness that just because disability can mean setbacks, changes and difficulty it should not be held as a disadvantage in terms of living, careers, housing and everything in between.

Claire's physical disability is called dystonia, which causes the muscles in her legs to tighten and spasm and means she is unable to walk. Despite this she is incredibly independent and always determined to achieve what others perceive she may not be able to do.

She donated £1 from every pin sold to the Mae Murray Foundation, a charity set up in Northern Ireland to allow people of all ages and abilities to take part in activities, experience the world and enjoy friendship together in an inclusive environment.

"As someone with a physical disability, it can be easy to think about things that I CANNOT do, but instead I should be thinking about the things I COULD do perhaps in a different way" - Claire Taggart

Christmas Markets Cancelled & Indie Roller

With many Christmas markets cancelled this year as a result of the pandemic Claire decided to get more involved with Indie Roller, a community driven space that lets creatives come together to discuss strategy and skills to help increase their visibility and sell online. She did this by completing the digital marketing bootcamp and the instagram course.

Claire also took part in the Indie Roller Christmas Essentials Market and the Art and Illustration Fair where she was able to showcase and sell some of her prints, Christmas cards and tortoise themed products.

Looking Ahead

Looking ahead, Claire hopes that when life reverts back to some sort of normality that she will be able to resume playing Boccia, and with that travelling all over the world. The growth and success of her business during lockdown means that she will have to work out the logistics of dispatching orders when she is away at training or competitions.

She is currently working on some new products to sell in 2021 including new notebooks, planners and 'The Second Colouring Book'. Claire's long term vision and dreams for the business would be for it to become self-sustaining and her full time job. She would also love to have some more of her products available to buy in high street shops.

Visit Claire's Etsy page below where you can buy Nifty Notebooks products.

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