We are back with another fabulous artist for you! This time we chatted with tumbler guru Nikki Hamilton of The Steel Magnolia and Lil Hams in a Cup. We can’t wait for you to get to know her and her business a little better! 

Nikki is a great example of how you can turn your artistic passion into a successful business. She started making tumblers as a side hustle and now it’s her full time gig! Her story is an inspiration to artists who are on the fence about taking that plunge into business. Not only does Nikki create beautiful tumblers, she also has several unique stainless steel tumbler designs that other resin artists can use for their creations. Nikki shows us that there are many different ways that we can turn what we love into a productive biz. We hope you enjoy hearing about Nikki’s story as much as we did! 

Ask an Artist with Nikki Hamilton

We asked Nikki to tell us a little bit about her family…

“I just celebrated my 7th wedding anniversary with my husband, Jimmy. We have 2 wonderful boys, Landon 11 and Jase 6. We also have 3 bulldogs and a pitbull mix. Some days are hard because I work with my husband and being together 24/7 isn’t always easy. But it also has its perks because we can take time off together and our kids come with us to the warehouse.  I also have my in-laws and at one time my sister working for us! We are all together in the company!”

And about her work life…

“I am the owner and founder of The Steel Magnolia. I started this company 2.5 years ago when my husband and I were looking for our next adventure. He was in the medical field and I was a stay at home mom with my crafting side hustle. I came to him one day and gave him the crazy idea to start a cup company!  3 months later he quit his job and came to work for me. I always tease him that I’m his boss. Some days are hard because I work with my husband and being together 24/7 isn’t always easy. But it also has it perks because we can take time off together and our kids come with us to the warehouse. Even the bulldog puppies tag along and spend the day sleeping in my office. Now we have 3 warehouses so I am working in the office of warehouse 2 while he works fulfilling orders with our team in warehouse 1.”

Where she would go if she could go anywhere in the world, and why…

“The beach. Any sunny, warm, and blue watered beach would do! I find peace there. No hustle and bustle of running a company. The sound of the waves wash everything I am stressing about away!” 

Where she sees herself in 5 years…

“We have so many big ideas we want to pursue. In 5 years, I see a lot of them coming to life; many of them by the end of this year! I want to be a part of all these business adventures but I also want to stay grounded. I never want to leave crafting. I love sharing and inspiring others and I think that is where I belong in all of it.” 

One of her strengths and one weakness…

“I think a strength of mine is what my family calls the “Gene gene” after my grandfather, Eugene. We all have this crazy ingenuity and way of thinking outside of the box. I think that is where I get a lot of my ideas and ability to create. At The Steel Magnolia, we aren’t buying generic cups that just anyone can purchase. With the exception of a very few styles, I have hand created each one of our patented designs that are exclusive to our brand only.

A weakness of mine is my inability to delegate. I am a control freak and as much as I wish I could let things go, it’s so incredibly hard for me. It overwhelms and stresses me out when I put so much on my plate. Over the past year I have had no choice but to let others on our team take over certain aspects. Especially if I want to keep myself in a place where I can continue to create.”

How she got started with resin…

“I used to add vinyl monograms to stainless steel tumblers. One day I saw in a crafting group on Facebook someone had a pretty glittered cup. I spent about 8 hours on a Sunday watching YouTube tutorials and taking notes. From that day forward I have used resin! I did play with resin alternatives but I didn’t love the finished quality. There is something about resin that no other product can match.”

How she balances her art, family, and work…

Nikki’s son making cups for his school store project

“I don’t think for me there is a balance. It is so intertwined with each other that it all flows together. I have tried to set work hours and only work certain times so I can focus on the other areas but it doesn’t work. My kids and husband are with me at the warehouse while I work. We spend time doing social media while sitting at the kids’ practice. I spend time with my kids when they make their own cups for friends and teachers. There is no separation for us. But it works!”  

How long she’s been working with resin…

“I started making tumblers about 5 years ago.”

Her favorite project…

“That’s a tough one. I have SO many cups that I absolutely love, but one time I made a sign with my glowforge and used resin to create waves! I was pretty proud of myself for that one!”  

And her least favorite…

“Dirty pours. I cannot make a good one to save my life!”

Her favorite CCDIY product…

“Just about all of them! I love Medium Viscosity! I use Artist Resin and Fast Set a lot. The torch is a must have! I use Dispersion Colors and/or Prime Time on every project. I just recently started using Silicone Casting to make molds for my umbrella toppers. The glitters I have used are BEAUTIFUL! And can I just say, the staff at CCDIY is the absolute best! They are so supportive and helpful with everything! I love them all!”

Her must have tool for resin art…

“The torch! Gives a beautiful gloss finish and removes microbubbles!”

What tip would you give to beginner resin artists? 

“Resin is a hard craft. It takes time and patience to learn your own style. There’s all kinds of tutorials out there that show you different ways to achieve the same thing. Find what works for you and make it work the way you like.”

And anything else we should know about her or her craft…

TumblerCon Retreat May 2021

“I created the first tumbler convention back in 2020 called TumblerCon. This year it looks a little different because of COVID. We created smaller retreats which is working out great because it’s a more personal experience. We do have a virtual option as well this year. There are still a few tickets on sale.

But next year we will be back bigger and better than ever! It takes so much work and planning to create such a huge event. But I love bringing everyone together! I have heard so many stories about people creating amazing friendships and enjoying the whole atmosphere. Those are the things that make all the months of exhaustion totally worth it!”

The Wrap Up…

And that’s Nikki, y’all! If you want to see more of what she is doing and teaching you can find her in alll the places! Check out her tutorials on her YouTube channel, and follow her on Facebook and Instagram. You can find her awesome stainless steel tumblers on her website, thesteelmagnolia.com, and see what else is happening with her life and business at Lil Hams in a Cup. From SVG files to classes, cups galore, and classes to help you learn new skills, Nikki has a lot of fun things to share!

 

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If you want more inspiration and information we have a Facebook group for that. Join us in Counter Culture DIY Artist Support where we, and other artists, offer ideas, answer questions, and support each other!

Do you have an art project using any of our products that you want to share? Send it to us at support@counterculturediy.com, and we can feature them here!