Startup Stories: King Me

Nina Wells, known in the art world as “ninamdot”, didn’t necessarily set out to create a bottled water company. The project began as a photo-art series she started in 2016. “I photographed Black males wearing crowns—the message is that what you see is what you become,” said Wells. The crowning of the subjects applies three elements: positive mindset, self-value, and restoration.

“There were a lot of suggestions when I started the photo series. ‘Oh, you should start a book…you should sell t-shirts…’ but that really wasn’t my direction. And while I appreciate those suggestions, I wanted to do something that everybody could be involved in and everybody drinks water. So, I wanted to branch out and do King Me Water.” 

“Nina came to us knowing she wanted to protect her intellectual property in some way and she had found out on the internet that we had trademark and patent assistance here [at the Library],” said Reference Librarian Linda Kocis. “We are part of the trademark and patent resource center network, so she came to ask questions about how she would take the next steps. She learned about the trademark office and learned about the online tools that they have there to assist her, mostly videos that explain every single step of how to go about starting the trademark application process. She taught herself at the Library and came back to have a few questions answers and was ready to go on her own.” 

“The Library has always been one of my places,” said Wells. “I’m always asking questions. I don’t know everything that the Library has to offer, but I know that it’s a place of resource. So I wasn’t surprised, I was relieved because it wasn’t in the budget for a trademark lawyer and I knew that it was something I could get done.” 

The Library is here to help artists and entrepreneurs like ninamdot with everything from the trademarking and business startup resources, opens a new window to printing business cards, marketing materials, and more in our state-of-the-art MakerSpace, opens a new window. The drive and ideas all come from the inspiring entrepreneurs themselves—we’re simply here to connect them with the resources they need to get started on the path to success, answering any questions they have along the way. 

“If you go to the right people, they know things that you don’t know,” said Wells. “And lo and behold, when I went to the Downtown Main Library, I met Ms. Linda and she was able to really walk me through that trademark process.” And all for free! You can learn more about ninamdot’s entrepreneurial journey by watching the full story below. We hope you’ll come to us if you ever need a helping hand in bringing your own small business dreams to life.