1. When did you realise you wanted to be a designer?
I always loved Design and Technology at school and was lucky to have teachers who gave me room to experiment. At 14 I did work experience for a luxury brand’s marketing team, shadowing a very talented designer there. It blew my mind that I could turn my love for experimenting into an actual job (and that you could wear jeans and a t-shirt to work!). Going on to do a degree in Design at Goldsmiths solidified that this was the vocation for me.
2. How did you get started and what was the biggest hurdle you overcame?
I started by getting as much work experience as I could in organisations that I admired. I pinpointed these places and then did whatever I could to get my foot in the door – whether that was delivering post round the office, working on reception or even building product in a warehouse. I wanted to get as much experience as possible and was willing to start from the ground up.
The biggest hurdle I overcame was imposter syndrome. The design industry can be a tough, competitive space. By working hard and finding ways to add value to the businesses I was in, I was able to climb the ladder. I stopped comparing myself with others’ success and being scared to take creative risks. Eventually I realised that the talent had been there all along, I just needed more self-belief.
3. What’s been your most successful way of getting clients?
Every client is different and has different needs so I think getting good at listening is key. So much can be said for taking the time to understand the client’s role, their ambitions and how you can design a process to get the best possible work for the budget they have.
Second to that would be showing clients your passion. I feel very lucky that I get to do a job I genuinely love and allowing clients to see this, to see excitement for the craft, the process and their business goes a long way.
4. How do you get clients to stay with you and use you for more work?
For me, this is about building genuine partnerships based on mutual respect for what each other does. There should be a level of openness and honesty. Clients will stay with you if you always do the best possible work and build an enjoyable process along the way.
5. Do you ever have issues with clients paying late? How do you manage that?
Luckily we have an incredible finance team at Mother Design who keeps everyone on track!
6. What does your typical work day look like?
No two days are the same which I love. I always start the day with a large coffee – I struggle to do anything without that. I try and get in some exercise in the morning if I can, I find it manages stress levels really well. I’m not rigid about this though, as some days those extra hours of sleep are way more important.
Every Monday morning I write out the top five priorities for the week and will plan my diary to make sure there is space to deliver those things. It sounds so simple but if I don’t block out that time it can very easily get filled with other things that might be urgent but aren’t as important as that five.
With goals set, I’ll usually turn my head to our live projects. As an ECD, you’re spread across lots of different projects at once and it’s this variety that I find so exciting. I’ll check in with the teams and do creative reviews, discussing the work and direction of the projects. Alongside this, I’ll work on new business opportunities, think about PR’ing our work and meeting new talent as well as making space for the more long-term thinking that is involved in leading a business from a creative point of view.
Lunch is protected at all costs, and at Mother Design we are lucky enough to have amazing chefs who feed us. Lunch also offers a great moment to sit around one table together and just connect on a human level.
My business partner Kathryn (MD of Mother Design) is a massive part of my typical workday so a daily catch up with her is always on the cards. Having people around you for support, who you can riff off, is so critical in a fast-paced environment like this – there is a reason we say ‘no man is an island’.
Finally, every day I try and make space for some sort of inspiration. Whether that be going to the theatre, seeing a film, reading an interesting article or listening to a new track on my commute in. It might only be a couple of minutes here or there but it’s such an important part of the role to be continuing to learn and be inspired.
7. Any piece of advice/wisdom that you’d like to give the readers at This Design Life?
Never compare yourself to others – there is no set career path in the design industry. It’s okay to try things out, get things wrong and discover what you love (and what you don’t) along the way. People put way too much pressure on themselves to have long-term career plans and then forget to enjoy the actual process. If you focus on making the best work you possibly can, more often than not, the rest will click into place.