‘The buzz, the camaraderie, the glamour and the style were electric’
When Nik Dillon, founding partner of Alkamee Brand & Design, received her ‘Save the Date’ for this year’s IMAGE PwC Businesswoman of the Year Awards, it made her pause to remember last year’s awards, a night that showed her she has ‘made it’ in the business world. Here she shares the top five take outs that have brought her from starting out to success.
I recently had cause to pause, stop and think. I had just received a “save the date” in celebration of Ireland’s most inspiring women and it made me reflect on the absolute pride I felt in being shortlisted for ‘IMAGE PwC Creative Businesswoman of the Year 2022′.
After a Covid-enforced hiatus, it was the first ceremony since 2019 and with over 700 of the country’s most inspiring influential leaders gathered together, it was an honour to be part and parcel of the night. The buzz, the camaraderie, the glamour and the style were just electric and, indeed, a proud moment to be Irish too.
I have been entrepreneurial from an early age, first selling decorative tiles at Dun Laoghaire market when I was 14. My ambition has always been to use my creativity to make a difference no matter what I do and to ultimately do great work for great people and causes. So, it was wonderful to be recognised for my work and to be standing amongst Ireland’s finest businesswomen. At the awards that night, I felt I’d made it in the business world.
Receiving the Save the Date for this year’s awards (April 14th!) encouraged me to write about how I have founded a successful Irish brand consultancy, Alkamee, in order to support and help young creatives and future business founders who are starting out.
Here are five things I learned along the way…
1. Go places to go places
Following a 2.1 degree from NCAD, I started my career in London, spending 3.5 years in a small design agency observing, learning, honing and climbing the ladder until I had an impressive folio of UK clients. It meant I returned to Dublin to multiple job offers. Working in prestigious Dublin agencies, I saw the opportunity of uniting strategy and design together as one offering, rather than separating the two skill sets.
I took this can-do vision to Melbourne, Australia, where I became Creative Director for a specialist design agency. Here I redefined workflows and led all the creative work with clients like Kodak, Pfizer and Ipsen, becoming part of the management team before returning home again, this time to establish my own company Wemakedesign (now Alkamee).
Key take out: Travel to gain rich and valued experience, inspiration, different skill sets and a distinct portfolio.
2. Stand out from the crowd
Design can be a challenging environment to thrive and succeed. Statistically, women do not appear in the profession anywhere near the numbers they should, never mind climbing to higher ranks. Rather than letting this hold me back, to this day it fuels my fire and is one of the reasons I set up Alkamee in the first place, sharing my knowledge and insights along the way.
In many male-only environments, mine is often the only female voice (and I feel it’s important to continue changing that), and I owe it to women to make it feel heard. We renamed the business Alkamee five years ago to better reflect the transformative work we do.
Alkamee, as its name suggests, is a culmination of good things coming together to do good. We like to think of it as mixing logic and magic; that is, strategic thinking and creative excellence which is our winning formula for championing long-term positive change.
Key take out: Stand out in a crowd, seek opportunities, specialise and stand your ground.
3. Feed your ambition
We’ve come a long way since I first set up the business in 2004. Initially, we focussed on high-level identity for SMEs. Today we partner with like-minded change makers, ambitious companies and industry leaders to unlock their potential and distil their magic. We are continuously evolving, pushing ourselves and our partners to understand brand and business and how the two collide in deeper and more meaningful ways.
I believe it’s so essential to remain deeply ambitious not just for personal reasons but for those you seek to help, your colleagues, clients, collaborators and the wider community. Keep inspiring and pushing people to new places and heights, both clients and colleagues alike.
Key take out: Continuously evolve and grow. Keep being ambitious for all around you.
4. Acknowledge your achievements
Establishing a name for ourselves as brand thought leaders (All-Ireland Business Foundation) and the go-to company for name creation and strategic brand building, and being recognised for our work with Savvi, Kinia and Payzone on a global stage amongst our peers at the Transform Awards are some of the ‘pinch me’ moments I can think of along our business journey. My personal highlight was being nominated and shortlisted for IMAGE PwC Creative Businesswoman of the Year 2022.
Starting my career in London and being in the room at the Transform Awards Europe held in London amongst some of the biggest and brightest agencies in the world is a real full circle moment, not just for me but a genuine testament to all at Alkamee and how we’ve helped transform brands and businesses to help them reach their potential along the way.
Key take out: Celebrate the good times. Have fun along the journey.
5. Be resilient
It’s especially important to celebrate the good times because there are always the leaner times too. Recessions, energy crisis, not to mention Covid and its repercussions. But amid challenging times, I firmly believe being tenacious and resilient wins out. For example, there are golden opportunities and wins to be availed of as a direct result of Covid. How many businesses pivoted during the pandemic, and many were founded as a direct result? We can now credit Covid with consumer-changing behaviours that would have taken much longer to come to fruition. Coupled with today’s opportunities, by leveraging your core differences and skillset, you’ll soon realise you’re capable of lots more to come and how you can not only contribute to today’s Irish economy but pass your successes onto the next generation too.
Key take out: Hold tight. Resilience and tenacity always win!
Nik is Founding Partner of Alkamee Brand & Design. With extensive experience in developing high-level strategic creative, naming and brand creation for clients both local and global, Nik founded the business in 2004 with the sole intention of identity and brand creation for small to medium-sized businesses. Alkamee has since built an enviable client list, working with a wide variety of clients and sectors, producing immersive brands that make a real difference in the world around them and excel in delivering tangible business results. Her clients include Airbnb, Trinity College Dublin and RTÉ. In her free time, she can be found immersed in her home renovation, DIYing or gardening. Find out more at alkamee.ie
When & Where
When: Friday, April 14, 2023, from 6:30pm until late
Where: The Clayton, Burlington Road, Dublin 4
The IMAGE PwC Businesswoman of the Year shortlist has been announced! Visit here for the shortlist.
How to register: You can purchase a limited number of early bird tickets below:
If you would like to pay via invoice, please email [email protected].
For terms & conditions, please visit here.