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What I've learned: Nina and Karin Altman, digital dreamers

Tiffany Loh
Smarter Writer

Tiffany Loh is the Smarter Business™ & News and Digital Editor, with varied writing experience always looking for a unique story

Tiffany Loh
Smarter Writer

Tiffany Loh is the Smarter Business™ & News and Digital Editor, with varied writing experience always looking for a unique story

Sisters-in-laws, Nina Altman and Karin Altman are co-directors of Melbourne-based design studio Dreamers Inc. and create digitally printed bedding and homewares featuring vibrant and playful patterns.

Sisters-in-laws, Nina Altman and Karin Altman are co-directors of Melbourne-based design studio Dreamers Inc. and create digitally printed bedding and homewares featuring vibrant and playful patterns.

Nina and Karin Altman

Creative bonding

Nina Altman: “We wanted to create an independent business for ourselves and were looking for a way to continue fulfilling our creative souls while maintaining the all-important home life balance so we can have it all. Mums have so much to offer creatively, but finding the time to dedicate to a business is a big decision. We love textiles and can’t live without good design.”

Keepin’ it in the family

Karin Altman: “It is a rare and beautiful thing to be able to work with family as there is already a level of trust and openness required for a good partnership. When the family get together we’re all very conscious to separate our work from our personal lives so we all have a break from the topic of business. And if we had a disagreement we still need to show solidarity for the sake of the family. This means letting go of any tension quickly.”

Keeping abreast with technology

Karin: “Digital print technologies are relatively new in textile manufacturing so we’re always learning. What we are doing now wouldn’t have been possible a few years ago, but nowadays our visions can come to life. We obtained a digital printing expert because wash and colour fastness are a priority. As mums product durability is imperative. We also wanted the product to feel amazing so we valued thread count and fibre type. The biggest change on a personal level was learning to rely on each other so we could slowly have more individual tasks and clearly defined roles.”

Staying ahead of the rest

Nina: “The biggest challenge in a creative industry is staying on top of your game, especially when you’re competing with companies that have bigger budgets, more resources and huge design teams. But it’s that hunger that makes me work even harder to make this company a success. Sometimes I feel we are onto a winner until I open a design blog to see someone else has released a version of the idea I spent months developing. That can be extremely discouraging and can make you feel as if you are wasting your time. I always try to stick by our design instincts and believe the market will follow and eventually understand our aesthetic and point of difference.”

A measured pace

Nina: “The greatest lesson we learned setting up Dreamers Inc. is not to rush, take things slow and cover all grounds before presenting something to the public and media. Once it’s out there it’s hard to take it back or make changes. There were difficulties creating our photos. We learnt to thoroughly research and make sure we use professional photographers to get the best results for the business.

Karin: “From working with retailers and directly with customers I learned that in order to be successful you must always keep your target market in mind. It’s very easy to get caught up in looking at other designs and thinking they will fit into your collection but your customers will always know when something is not authentic to you.”

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