With the new Omicron Covid variant looming over us that has been reported to be impervious to vaccines, we are now being plunged into yet another lockdown. Lockdowns and every shifting rules on masks, social gatherings and how we lead our lives has become a normality and it’s all a bit miserable, so we thought we would mindfully celebrate some of the great things that have happened for us this year.
At a time when the government has announced yet another lockdown that includes ‘work at home where you can’, we can say hand on heart that we were so glad to get back together as a team and into the office earlier this year. There is no replacing the interpersonal interactions you get from sharing coffee and pastries or getting out for lunch with your co-workers for building a rapport, closeness and just generally being able to separate work from home life. Being in the office together is a crucial part of making our team tick.
Our first public engagement after the last lockdown restrictions lifted saw us travelling south to RHS Hampton Court to attend the show with our client Griffin Glasshouses (our other client HECK were there also). Getting down there, into a hotel, tested, Covid passed and through the gates with all masks and sanitizing steps covered seemed like a really big deal at the time. The whole process was worth it in the end to enjoy an outdoor event in fine weather and feel like a small amount of normal life had been returned to us.
We were looked up by someone who worked with us when she was with another client a very long time ago. She got in touch to ask us to get involved in ads management projects for two brands for Hot House Beauty, led by TV’s ’10 Years Younger’, Lisa Shepherd. We’ve loved working on St Moriz and The Hair Boss (and getting to product test these *amazing* products) this year, helping this vibrant pair of beauty brands from the Hot House stable gain wider brand awareness.
We made new friends in Emily and Vicky from KitChange, an amazing pair of passionate business women. They have taken their experiences from their former careers in the fast fashion industry, where they saw ‘cheap and fast’ exponentially contributing to waste. They are taking on the fashion world to launch a sustainable activewear brand that uses only post-consumer plastic waste to create their garments. They are passionate about the subject and want everyone to slow down with their wardrobe choices. Listening to their argument we are inclined to agree – the range of leggings, oversized sweaters and tops look great too!
First we were one, then we were two, and then three, and then four. Rachel joined us from the hotel industry back in July, right at the end of our first financial year of trading. She has strengthened our team by being thrown in at the deep end from day one (yep… sorry about that Rachel, but you rose to the occasion admirably) and we are *so glad* she has joined us because she is as amazing as the person we called for her reference as she promised she was. It was such a great reference chat and was so relaxed we wanted to offer her referee a job on the spot too! Thanks for joining us Rachel.
We were invited to help on a small campaign of awareness with Lancashire Tea earlier this year to help them test out Google Ads as a platform for raising awareness of their brand. The experiment was a great success, where we were able to demonstrate that a small budget could deliver a lot of eyeballs for the brand in a short period of time. Moreover we got to work on another project with our talented friends at On Fire Marketing (Our partners in crime on the HECK account) which is always a bonus in our eyes.
We would have to say that FSB networking has kept us sane this year and last. MD, Debbie Porter is a long-time member of the FSB and a volunteer who used to run in-person sessions at Cromford Creative. COVID-19 put a stop to all of that and the FSB responded by going online on Zoom to continue with support. Whereas the in-person sessions were held at three different locations in Derbyshire, it seemed sensible to combine them all when moving to Zoom, and so Yvonne Gorman of Essential Print Services took up the challenge and has been running the Derby & Derbyshire sessions monthly since then. We wouldn’t miss them for the world as that lady brings so much energy to the sessions, so if you are curious then sign up on the FSB website for the next one! Another bonus of COVID-19 and lockdown has been to join in regularly with the Nottinghamshire sessions led by Dawn Edwards of Challenge Consulting. Just like Yvonne, Dawn has so much energy making the sessions a lot of fun. If you are looking for a free networking session that is actually useful, keep an eye out for the next one. You won’t regret it.
How thrilling after the dismal days of lockdown to emerge out into the summer, and then find ourselves shortlisted for the Woman Who Awards 2021 for Best New Business. The theme of the awards was Resilience, and we were blown away by all the amazing women in the room at the Awards lunch which was held in the incomparably fantastic surroundings of Coombe Abbey Hotel in Warwickshire.
One of our guiding principles is in offering opportunities to the younger generation who represent tomorrow’s talent pool, but that just need that first toe hold to get them started. We have hosted six students from Derby, Sheffield & Nottingham Universities this year, working on a range of projects to give them experience they will find invaluable in their future careers. We even offered one of them a full time job (hi Mia!) and haven’t looked back since.
We’ve worked with Baker Consultants for a couple of years, developing content for this award winning ecology consultancy, and helping distribute their content through their social media channels. The brand embarked on a website redesign project with our friends at Frogspark in Derby, and 2021 was the year that the project finally launched after a long period of site re-architecture and development. Although we can’t claim the website as our own, we fed into the process, creating content, plugging gaps and keeping the momentum going between client and designer to help smooth the process. The new site looks so much better than its predecessor and will help support Baker Consultant’s ambitious forwards plans for expansion after a high growth period that has followed in the footsteps of our initial marketing efforts.
We also went with Baker Consultants to the Farm Business Innovation Show at the NEC, working alongside Thom Baker of Abergast on the show stand, and which was a stand that was busy from the moment of opening to the moment of closing with the fortuitous timing of the Environment Bill gaining Royal Assent, incorporating mandatory BNG requirements going forwards. The pace was brisk at the show for our client, and 2022 is now a case of onwards and upwards for the Baker Consultants team!
We’ve looked after Faith In Nature’s UK SEO, social ads, Bing Ads and Google Ads campaigns, dating back our relationship to 2018. 2021 was the year that the brand hit America!
With distribution deals in the USA with four major chains – Walmart, Target, Bed, Bath & Beyond and Sam’s Club – we have been drafted in to work on the creation of a new website to represent the brand as well as establish a Google Ads presence to help the brand become visible in this territory for consumers discovering Faith In Nature on the shelves in stores for the first time. With no digital presence at all, this move has helped the brand hit the ground running as fast as possible. After a long time spent working Google Ads in the UK, it’s also rather thrilling to see the incomparably much huger market that the USA represents. We’re getting to play with a lot more data, and as geeks at heart, that’s also quite exciting.
What can we say about being able to return to RHS Chelsea after lockdown put an end to the show for so long? Shifted for the first time ever, and for the last time ever (though this most recent lockdown might make other plans for the Royal Horticultural Society), to September, the show was a wonderful return to form for this pinnacle highlight in the Flower Show circuit. We were there for Press Day, and enjoyed every minute of it, the sun shone, it was warm and the garden designers responded to the change in season, taking full advantage of the opportunity to show Dahlias at the show, for the first time ever, and probably the last time ever too.
Arts Derbyshire is a charity that holds a special place in our hearts. This was the first contract that our Managing Director, Debbie, won when she set out alone as a sole trader back in 2006. We’ve maintained a working relationship ever since then, sharing a journey that has taken many twists and turns in the road along the way. In order for an arts organisation to survive in a heavily underfunded world, they have had to shape shift a few times to ensure the organisation, the brand and the website can live on.
The most recent chapter for Arts Derbyshire has been to convert the organisation to a charity, making a separation from Derbyshire County Council. Due to funding cuts, the website had been unsupported for many years, with many parts of it not working at all, and so we were charged with migrating the database of users and rebuilding the whole site to bring it back to life. With a lapsed customer base due to the unsupported nature of the previous website, GDPR considerations and having to extract data and import it into a new system as seamlessly as possible, we were put through our paces on this project. The resulting website reveals none of this background effort though and it looks amazing.
Hot on the heels of being announced finalist in the Woman Who Awards 2021, we were also amazed to find ourselves finalists in the National Business Women’s Awards 2021. We are an all-female team and work hard in what can be quite a male-dominated industry, which is why these two awards meant so much to us as recognition for efforts. The awards ceremony was held at the Hilton Wembley which was a very glitzy affair. Although we didn’t bring home the win that night, we met some amazing women around the table at a memorable evening in a very glamorous setting.
Si Homfray leads Park Designs and you couldn’t hope to meet a nicer person. He has had a long career in graphic design and has now brought his dream business to life in the form of Park Designs. The brand has a range of different giftware and homewares that customers love so much that they keep coming back for more. We’ve been helping support the brand with Google Ads and social ads to reach a wider customer base, alongside offering practical digital marketing support and advice for his Shopify website. Si is bringing his brand to the attentions of outdoor enthusiasts across the UK, and in 2022 its going to get even better.
To say we were thrilled when Mr Fothergill’s asked us to get involved with their website redesign project would be an understatement. We’ve worked with the company for over 8 years, establishing a strong social media presence for the brand as part of their marketing strategy. We don’t always stay inside our social media box though, and have got involved in a wide range of side projects and problem solving situations over the years.
The old website had worked hard for the brand as an ecommerce engine since it’s last redesign in 2014, but it was now time for a change. We have been a listening ear for years on the social media front line and so took a lot of this experience into the resulting design process to build a smoother customer journey with less friction through the processes that make up such a large and complex ecommerce website. We think it looks fab too!
This was quite a unique experience, joining a session with no pre-conceptions of what it would be and what would be learned. Debbie took an opportunity put her way by the Woman Who network to work with Jude Jennison who helps leaders develop and recognise their styles, their strengths and where there are areas for improvement. Debbie was teamed up with Tiffin, a lead stallion in the herd that had some very definite ideas of his own about who would be leading and who would be following. Amazingly, he generously agreed to follow Debbie, through non-verbal communication and an energy of leadership that horses are adept at picking up in people. A truly unforgettable experience shared with some of the UK’s most amazing women business owners.
White Peak Distillery is an amazing local brand, set to make history in 2022 with the launch of Derbyshire‘s first single malt whisky. We have worked on and off with White Peak Distillery for a couple of years, as they have had to navigate a series of diversions to their original plan. Led by Max Vaughan and his wife Claire, we are constantly awestruck by how they have dealt with each blow gracefully and responsively, coming out the other side still on course to achieve their aims. It’s easy to market a brand that you love and can totally get behind, and White Peak Distillery is one of those brands for us. If you are Derbyshire based, there is still time for you to pop by the distillery and pick up a last-minute Christmas gift too!
Although we feel like we are in a bit of a Groundhog Day, we would have to say that one of the positives of 2021 was receiving our Covid vaccines in the summer. We’re all completely vaxxed and feel a lot easier as a result. Just like the rest of the nation we want to see an end to all of this and so will be the first in line for our booster jabs. Omicron apart, getting our vaccines earlier this year felt like being gifted a true freedom where we didn’t have to constantly worry about catching Covid anymore. No one can predict what will unfold over the coming months, and so we’re just thankful in the meantime that there is a vaccination program in place.
What can we say about the FSB hamper we received in December? To help support the FSB‘s #FSBMemberDecember campaign we put in an entry… and to our absolute amazement and surprise, we then won! We had no idea how big the hamper would be, just that it would contain produce from small businesses around the country who are FSB members. The box that arrived at our offices were stuffed full of so many trees by so many talented producers, it wasn’t the 4 or 5 things we were expecting to receive.
You’ve played a blinder FSB! Thank you so much to all of the producers that so generously gave their products for the hampers. To give them some props here we are with a full list of who they are and the products that were in the box!
We work hard here. So, we made a mindful decision to also take a break from the office on a regular basis. We have cultivated a habit of walking and eating our way around Derbyshire that has seen us walking the beautiful Lathkill Dale, Chatsworth Park and around the local bridleways and footpaths near to our local patch of Bakewell. One thing we do more than walking though is eating! We’ve been spreading ourselves around, eating at Hassop Station, The Lime Lounge in Bakewell, at Cromford Mills, The Maynard, the Lathkil Hotel, the Riverside Café in Bakewell, the Chatsworth Farm Shop cafe and Edensor Tea Rooms. We’ve so much more eating out to aim for in 2022, so if you are an eatery, watch out for us!
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