Husband and wife team Libby and Nathan Wood used to co-own a large sign shop in Wellington but decided to go their own way and begin their own business, Creative Sign Co.

Nathan says, “We started the business in August 2021 as we went into Covid lockdown, not exactly perfect timing. With just the two of us in the business, we have a hell of a lot less administration to do and our stress levels are correspondingly lower.

“We came up with the idea of starting our own shop on the same day we decided to leave the old company. We created the new company that night, designing the new logo as well. It is now coming up to two years with our standalone business and we could not be happier. We feel grateful to be in a very strong position.

“Starting from scratch, we had to purchase new technology and we went for the top-of-the-line equipment which provides exceptional quality in all areas. It helps us cover everything from vehicle graphics to interior and exterior signage, illuminated, dimensional, decals and frosting.

“We want each day to be different and enjoyable. We work in a creative industry and want to explore every avenue possible to keep our passion alive.”

As NZSDA members, Libby and Nathan have attended the annual conference and awards for the past decade. He says, “It is great to have this network of like-minded tradies. We can call upon them to assist and we can reciprocate.

“We are looking forward to the NZSDA Conference, Awards, and the Print + Sign Expo in July. We would not miss it. This gives us the opportunity to see what other ideas are around in design and execution. It is great just to catch up and have a yarn with other people who appreciate what you do, given they are in the same industry.”

They face similar challenges to other sign makers. Nathan says, “Staying competitive with ever growing costs is difficult and we have to manage all aspects of the business from admin to design, to prep, to install in a timely manner. So, it is important to keep on top of admin and price book updates, so we revisit quotes the following morning before sending them out. We don’t want to become slaves to the business as workload increases. So, we set allocate set times daily to perform those tasks.

“We live by the quote: ‘They’re only stickers, no one is going to die’. We have a schedule, and we do everything in our power to run to it, but it doesn’t always play out that way. If it doesn’t get finished today, it gets finished tomorrow.

“In a good week, we get everything done on time and on budget, complemented by loud music, good banter and not taking things too seriously. We really enjoy the diversity in our work and the lifestyle. It’s just bloody good fun. 

They don’t feel the need to ‘take the business to the next level’ just yet. He says, “It is a tricky one. We lost eight years of our lives in a company that fell apart so for now, we are enjoying each day as it comes, working in the industry we love. We have not set specific goals apart from ensuring we have fun along the way. This is what matters most to us.

“We understand that company culture is important, regardless of how big or small the company is. Communication is the most critical part of the business, and that is quite easily forgotten when workloads increase. However, it is better when you don’t take things too seriously. You should enjoy your business and your industry.”

For Libby and Nathan, signage has a bright future. He says, “Everywhere you look, you can see a sign. Whether it be a street sign, or billboard, signs are everywhere. It is an ever-changing industry, and we are interested to see where it goes. We stick to what we know and love, but we are open to change, new methods and techniques.”

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