A man and woman with their two young children sit and kneel on a beach with surfboards looking out to the ocean

Andrew and Maia Holmes – Signwriter, Creative, Business Owners, Family-Driven

Andrew and Maia Holmes own Designwriter, where they craft bespoke signage and awards and do custom printing. They both grew up in Nambucca Valley but met as young adults on the Gold Coast.

They love their life in Nambucca and have two gorgeous kids, but their journey to happiness wasn’t always easy, and their path wasn’t always clear.

While living on the Gold Coast and enjoying “the young 20s dream lifestyle”, Andrew’s dad had a massive heart attack, and they relocated home.

With no local sign shop, they faced the daunting task of starting their own business at such a difficult time. That was 2012, and they only had the bare essentials for equipment. 

It was a struggle, and they had almost no money to live on, but soon, they started to get known and their local connections helped grow their business. 

For Andrew and Maia, leaving the Valley helped them find themselves and appreciate the magic and beauty of their home.

In year 12, Andrew didn’t have any idea what he was going to do until a friend said, “You’re into design, why don’t you try signwriting”.

Andrew started an apprenticeship, moving to the Gold Coast to finish it. While there, his passion and creativity sparked and he was lucky to have a great mentor.

Maia lived in Taylors Arm as a child, “We had no power. We were bush kids. It was just beautiful. It was quiet. We had fresh water creeks, we’d just play all day. To get to the bus stop, it was about 20 kilometres.

“That’s what kind of made me, me.”

When she was a young adult, Maia spent time travelling across the Nullarbor doing odd jobs but with no real goal or destination.

“I felt very isolated away from my family and friends but I knew I had to take the opportunity to just do it because I knew I probably wouldn’t do it again.”

Maia’s school friends had all moved to the Gold Coast for university and that’s what led her north, where she met Andrew.

Maia says, “Gold Coast life was good. We both had secure jobs. We were happy.”

Their lives were about to change drastically.

“[We] got a phone call one day, and Andrew’s dad had a massive heart attack. [Andrew] was to and from Gold Coast, home, to Gold Coast.

“We had to make the decision to move home just to be with family.”

Andrew says, “Coming home, there wasn’t a lot of work….at that stage, there was no sign shop in the Valley so my only option was to start the business and see what happens”

Maia explains just how tough it was, “We had little to no money for living week-to-week. I don’t know how we afforded to live.

“You start from nothing, but it makes you really appreciate getting small successes. The small achievements that you have.”

Andrew’s advice for Nambucca Valley young people is, “Get out for a little bit and see other places and do other things. It really does make you appreciate how magical this place is.”

Maia agrees, “I don’t know how you’d find who you are without going away. Without discovering or putting yourself out of your comfort zone.

“Taking yourself away and working jobs that you never thought you’d ever be able to or just taking that leap.”

You can now watch Andrew and Maia’s story, other stories from local heroes, and the full feature documentary film, Inspire U: Stories from the Valley, on our Inspire U project page. We’ll be adding new stories regularly, so come back soon.

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Author: Simone Atallah

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