The Girl Behind the Graphics
It dawned on me – Years in this business and I’ve yet to introduce myself. Shame! Hey there, I’m Nichole Loati, owner of Great Big Graphics, Inc. in Morrisville, VT.
I’m a flat-lander. Let’s just get that out of the way. Have I already lost a few of you? I know … I’m not proud of my F.L. status but I’ve done extensive research, and far as I can tell there is no way of graduating out of this title without somehow dying and reincarnating 6 times in this very spot. So I’m a flat-lander, and always will be. I was born and raised in east county, San Diego. I grew up in what they refer to as the high-desert. My childhood included winters, but not like these, and I lived through huge earthquakes and several forest fires big enough and close enough that friends lost their homes. When I was 15 my parents decided enough was enough; we were going to move to picturesque Vermont. They bought property in Elmore and fixed it up from afar while I finished high school in CA. The day I walked the graduation aisle, we moved. That was 1999. Now I work in Morrisville, a village whose entire population is actually smaller than my high school’s population. Not even joking.
In 2010 I started my own marketing company. Fact is you’ve never heard of that company because it was just me, working from home, and not really getting anywhere. At this point I was 29 years old, divorced, mother of 3, and living in a 125 year old farmhouse in Jeffersonville. I didn’t get out all that much. What started out as little gigs for friends grew into friends of friends and eventually I won a 1-year contract doing marketing for the Village of Johnson. It was through doing that job that I eventually met Julie, the then owner of Great Big Graphics. After a few months of working together in a peripheral sense, Julie asked me to coffee, and disclosed to me that she was looking to sell the company. I visited the shop and did some research … it was a no-brainer. After a couple months of negotiation and a sizeable loan, I became the 3rd owner of Great Big Graphics.
This was January 2012. The following year I met Kurt Loati. Kurt and I got married and then in 2016 I hired Kurt on as my sign-maker. That could be good or bad, right? The look on folks’ faces when I tell them my husband works for me is priceless. Honestly, it’s been really good. He’s definitely the most skilled sign-maker I’ve ever had, and having him here has enabled me to offer more as a company.
Today we live in Morristown with our 6 kids. Thomas-15, and the twins Brandon and Kate-13 are mine. Mason-13, Miller-11, and Arden-8 are his. We have two cats, 8 hens, and a snake. Kurt keeps my animal-adopting in check (kinda) and I keep him from investing in too many power tools (failing at this.) My business hours are Monday – Friday 8-4, and those 6 kids are the reason why. I get crap for my “banker’s hours,” but frankly I don’t care. Priorities, people.
I love running this company. I love my clients. I love that I can be myself and yet people keep coming back (are they crazy?) I plant a veggie garden here at the office every year. I get super into the whole putting the seeds into the ground thing, then by the time summer rolls around I’m usually exhausted and busy, running between job sites and kids’ activities, and the garden is a mass of weeds. Folks tease me about that, and I love that too. My life is a delicate balance between ‘be the best I can be’ and ‘life’s too short,’ and my garden is the perfect symbol for that.
I bring that same philosophy into the work I do. I believe in honesty in business. I’m not interested in making a sale in spite of my clients’ best interests. I’d much rather make a sale in order to forward my clients’ best interests. I mean really, it’s selfish folks. What’s the point of bankrupting you? If you can’t afford what I’m selling you, you can’t come back and spend more. If I work with you to help you grow at a pace that works for you, you’ll be around a lot longer, and spend more in the long run. Win win. I’ve struggled in business, I know what that’s like. My goal is to get you to where I am now; doing what I’m passionate about and loving life.