A few months back my sister Carly sent me an Instagram link to Haly Design, a Wellington based illustration and design page. Anyone that knows me knows I love Instagram, and I found myself scrolling down beautiful pictures of lettering, brush script, and little illustrations. For my birthday Carly got me one of Haly’s prints, a gorgeous handwritten brush script print done in a bright magenta. Then when I went up to Wellington, we found that Haly Design had opened up a store on Manners Street, so I was dying to go in.
When I went in, I was blown away at how beautiful it looked. There were so many prints hanging up, greeting cards, tote bags, embroidery, badges, and maps.
Since then I’ve brought a few prints as gifts for friends, and I loved them so much I wanted to interview Haly, and see what she had to say about turning her passion into a reality and a business.
Haly was born in Vietnam, and moved over to New Zealand when she was 17 to study. She did a couple of years at Wellington Girl’s College before doing a Graphic Design and Digital Media degree at Natcol Design School (what’s now known as YooBee).
Her uncle lived here at the time, which meant she could study Graphic design as well as having the support of her family.
Since then, Haly married Neo who helps her with the business side of Haly Design or as she put it, ‘I do the art and he does the boring stuff’. Neo set up the website which looks really awesome and is so easy to use.
This year they’ve also opened their shop in Manners Street in Wellington, and had their baby boy – so its all been pretty full on!
But where did it all begin?
Haly has always loved art and painting as a child, and started out doing works for her friends and family. Her first ‘official’ client was Fix and Fogg – a Wellington based peanut butter company. This was back in 2014, when Haly was working at Moore Wilson’s grocery store. She used to write up and decorate the store’s chalk boards, when Andrea, one of Fix and Fogg’s owners, came into the store to do a tasting for their peanut butter. They got talking, and Haly ended up painting a board for their factory, explaining the process of they create the peanut butter. Haly and Andrea became good friends and still keep in touch, and since then Haly has painted loads of boards for various businesses around Wellington.
“When did Haly Design start?”
At the end of 2015, Haly and Neo had just come back from a holiday in Aussie, when they thought, lets just do this! They started up their business, with social media proving to be one of the most important parts, in particular, Instagram. They have over 3.5K followers on their instagram, where they receive a lot of their orders from. Their Facebook page has over 1.5K followers.
“But how do you turn a passion into a business?”
Haly had always wanted to do art as a full time job, but didn’t really know how or where to begin. Neo had taken business at uni, as well as having done a couple of small business projects, and he encouraged Haly to go for it. They had a stall at the pop-up waterfront markets in Wellington, which let people come and see her art, as well as get her name out there. It was kind of a snowball effect, and here, over 2 years later they are, with a beautiful store, website, social media following and a baby boy.
It beats working in an office – in the store Haly loves talking to her customers, and now that their son is here she can still continue her work from home.
Haly’s main subjects are lettering, florals and foliage. She works with watercolour, pen brushes, ink on paper, and chalkboards. But aside from this, she also does wedding stationary and invites – a lot of which she learnt within her Graphic Design degree.
“Whats your advice for someone in a similar position, wanting to follow their passion?”
Haly’s number one tip was practice. Practice a lot, practice your skill and do it well. She stopped painting for a little while and found that when she started again, she had lost a bit of her skill. As Neo put it, ‘Do what you love, love what you do, and just go for it’.
A couple of Haly’s most popular works include her ‘Good Vibes Unicorn’ and a print she did after the All Blacks won the World Cup in 2015.
I personally love the small prints and the lettering on vintage maps.
“Whats on the horizon/what are you looking toward in the future?”
Haly and Neo want the store to become an iconic, arty Wellington store. (I reckon they’re already well on their way). They want people to know about their shop more, as well as support NZ artists and other small local businesses more. As a country we have so much local talent, and shopping at small businesses is so much better than buying products mass produced off-shore. Handmade products are made with love, and by purchasing them, you support the real people who create them. Haly and Neo stock products from other NZ artists in their store, as well as Fix and Fogg peanut butter.
For now, Haly and Neo have the shop in Manners Street for a year, and after that – who knows! If you’re in Wellington you should most definitely check it out (131 Manners Street) and if not, head over to their:
Below are a few of the prints I got custom made! You can choose what colour you want the writing, as well as the splash. I chose both options as gold.
And now here’s the best part.
Wanna win 5 jars of Fix and Fogg Peanut Butter and this cute Haly Design print?
Just follow this link or click on the picture to enter in the draw!