What is it that you do?
I lead the UK design team at Simply Business. Whilst I can’t say I’m passionate about insurance (I mean, who really is…), I knew that after 13 years in branding agencies, I was looking for something more meaningful, so my decision to work for a BCorp like Simply Business where the focus was on people, and purpose-led work just felt right.
What’s something people would never guess about you?
At the age of 14, I became a black belt in Karate. Whilst I don’t still practice it, I have such a nostalgic passion and appreciation for martial arts.
Who did you want to be as a kid?
I can’t say categorically who I wanted to be as a child, but I remember being in absolute awe of my art teacher at school, Mrs Moss. She was passionate and warm, and it really felt like she believed in me and my ability, so I guess my love for art and design grew from her.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
In all honestly, what gets me out of bed in the morning is the gym (and Shredded Wheat with peanut butter). I like to start the day doing something for ME, knowing I can fully focus on work for the rest of the day.
When I was first starting my career, I would have said the most exciting work was with clients who were up for change, where you could push boundaries and do your best creative work. Now my attitude is focused on purposeful design, where people are at heart, where you can make a difference and give back. It is nice to be able to use my skills in that way and be part of a company where our values align. In fact, one of the reasons that drew me to Simply Business was their passion for giving back and making a difference to small business owners. It’s something you wouldn’t expect from an insurance company, but we go above and beyond to share knowledge, support and give back to small businesses in so many ways. Oh, and of course, we provide great and trusted insurance products.
Can you share a highlight in your career?
In 2022 I joined Sanctus (who provide mental wellbeing coaching in the workplace). In quite a short space of time, I defined their brand architecture, evolved their core brand, developed their sub-brands and a build visual design system to future-proof other sub-brands. I left Sanctus a few months ago now, and still, I get messages out of the blue from members of the team saying how much of a mark I’d left on the company and how they didn’t understand the impact of design until I showed them through example. It’s been really nice to know how much my work can impact and be appreciated by others.
Who are the women that have inspired you the most?
Apart from my inspiring art teacher Mrs Moss who sparked my passion for art and design, I’d have to say my mum’s attitude and positivity. Whilst we’re very different characters, she’s always been that one person who is there for me and always puts a positive spin on everything.
What is good about being a woman in the creative industry?
Being a woman in the design industry, at the level I’m at now, means I can support and help other young women in their careers. I was recently asked by a friend who has started an artisan fragrance and candle company (Aequill.com) to mentor her junior designer. Our bi-weekly check-ins provided a space to talk through ideas and share my advice and knowledge on all things design. Not only am I helping support my friend in her side hustle, but I’m also helping a young female designer in the early stages of her career. What a great feeling that is!
Have you faced any challenges?
In all honesty, none that come to mind are female-specific.
(EdenMarsh edit: Isn’t it refreshing to hear?!)
What change in the creative industry would you like to see?
I’d like to see higher pay and better benefits for designers, particularly in design agencies. Being labelled a ‘family’ or having free-flowing drinks doesn’t pay the bills. Greater emphasis on better pay rewards designers for the passion and hours they put in, as well as benefits that support lifestyle and wellbeing.
What advice would you give your younger self starting out in the creative industry?
The best piece of advice I can think of, and something I’ve come to realise over the years, is that the continuous drive for ideas and innovation can challenge your perception of yourself. What I found reassuring was understanding that design is very much a process with stages of ups and downs. Recognise where you are in the process and that the emotions and challenges you experience are all part of it. It sounds really cheesy, but don’t give up. Keep going and learn from each project, work experience or challenge.