Interview with Nicala Hicks

Interview by Michelle Heslop. Photos by Julia Loglisci and Tony Colangelo

Evolution and expansion seem to be themes for you this year. An exciting new office space, sole proprietorship of Maven Interior Design + Build, and a new sister business, Forum Interior Design. Tell us about Forum Interior Design. We work with both business owners to craft their restaurants, boutiques, clinics and homeowners to help them dream up their custom residences. We’ve also been working with development teams for larger, multi-family projects that require a full collaborative team.

 How is Forum Interior Design different from Maven Interior Design + Build? It’s the type of projects that we take on that have us running two separate companies. Forum Interior Design was developed to work alongside businesses and homeowners, architects, and builders as a cohesive team. It is where the name “Forum” originated — when we collaborate on more involved projects, we’re part of the forum that makes these jobs successful. It’s a unique process where we engage using industry-specific software, communication styles, timelines, and deliverables. 

Maven Design + Build focuses mainly on our residential homeowner clients as we bring them through our signature process of feasibility studies and renovation success. These projects utilize a different software and a distinct skill set that are managed by our talented in-house, renovation-obsessed team.

You obviously have a strong entrepreneurial spirit. Do you come from a business background? There is most definitely a strong drive in me to make things better than when I found them. I have always taken my own path but after launching a successful custom tile studio in North Vancouver in my early 20’s, I was officially hooked on the entrepreneurial path. I love the constant push to be better and evolve with your market, your team, and your community. My family has taught me a lot but I would say that my partner Dennis is the best teacher I could have asked for.

What are the key elements to building a successful business in Victoria? Well, building a successful business in general is one thing and building it in Victoria is quite another. Like anywhere, I find success lies in loyalty, doing the right thing, and treating people well. I’ve also recently engaged a business coach which has been an incredible lift and support when looking for ways to expand, grow and be better in general.  

What is Forum Interior Design currently working on? We’re most excited about our newly designed project The Very Good Butchers (they butcher beans, not animals), as they move from their flagship store at the Victoria Public Market at the Hudson to The Ironworks Building. The owners are great to work with, the team at Story Construction always leads a great site and we’ve got some pretty cool surprises in store for customers when it is time.

Tell us about your new office space and how has it enhanced what you do at Forum Interior design? It feels so good to have a new home. It is a place of creative freedom, a place where we can express ourselves as a team and develop our brand. We share our space with another talented team of creatives, so the balance of work and play is great. Our clients love coming to an inspiring space to see what we’ve put together for them, socially distanced with masks, of course.

What has been essential as a designer to get through the uncertainties of the past year? Essential as a designer, mother, partner and leader would be the art of fluid adaptability. Paying attention, caring for the people around me and leading without fear has been critical.

How do you keep your design ideas fresh and creative when you are working under time constraints or on multiple projects? I get the luxury of pushing the finer project details now through my team so I can stay high level, letting ideas surface and blossom. I also have a kick-ass masseuse to help me through the stressful times.

What would be your best advice to a friend starting a renovation?Start with our feasibility study, it will save your life.