How it all began…
Wow, 10 bloomin’ years!
Not quite sure where the time has gone. It’s passed so quickly, but if I think back to everything that’s happened, I’ve managed to action and achieve a sh*tload in the last decade…
People often ask me why I decided to go it alone and start up my own business. So I thought this 10 year anniversary would be a great time to tell the full story. I hope it inspires in some way, shape, or form. Or at the very least, puts a broad smile on your face.
Right then, the story commences in September 2012, when my 4 year old son, Enzo, started primary school. I had been working for over 6 years at a small design agency in Chancery Lane, which specialised in Property Marketing & Corporate Communications. As a single parent, it was an extremely demanding and time poor period of my life. Constantly rushing to get Enzo to school, me to the office – juggling parenthood and work with little energy in the tank for anything else. Dating was near impossible and hobbies were also a no go.
Parent. Work. Parent. Sleep. Repeat…
The first term went by in a chaotic blur and we reached the festive season with Enzo landing a role in the nativity as a zebra …. don’t ask, as I don’t have an answer for you!
I obviously wanted to watch his first dramatic performance so approached my manager to see if I could work from home that day and use my commute time to go and see the nativity. We could access all work servers via VPN so I felt I could work effectively and efficiently and still see my sweet zebra in action (my fave animal by the way – can you guess why?).
My manager said I would have to take a day off as holiday and that working from home was not an option. Oh the irony and if only it had been 2023 huh??!! This didn’t seem sustainable to me, I realised there would be many opportunities where I would want to be a present parent for my son at his school events. I didn’t have enough holiday allowance to use for every such event.
I had to find a solution and make a change.
Talks commenced and I planned to leave my corporate job to set up in business with a colleague. I handed in my notice and in January 2013 I began the life of an entrepreneur. I had £1000 in my bank account and not much more in a savings account. My family thought I was absolutely nuts (not for the first time) and asked what I would do if work didn’t come in!? I was confident the work would come in, so I put it out there to the universe. If not, I’d paint and decorate houses! Needless to say I’ve never had to pick up a paintbrush. Well, only for painting my own flat or my attempt at painting works of art!
After a pretty successful first year, my colleague and I went our separate ways due to personal circumstances. Starting out in a partnership was a great stepping stone for me and I remain grateful for it as I often wonder whether I’d have had the courage to set up alone.
In the first year of business, I matched my part time income at the design agency.
I had more time on my hands without the daily commute, plus more energy as a result. I attended all of Enzo’s school events and helped set up the PTA providing marketing support and as treasurer. With my new-found time, I joined a local sports club and began playing tennis again after a 20 year hiatus, finally giving myself a hobby and something to do other than work and being a mum. I felt alive and inspired – my creativity and desire to learn was in overdrive. I was finally enjoying my life, parenthood and work balance.
During the subsequent years, the business showed steady growth and by 2016, I had doubled my income. In 2019, az.design became a limited, VAT-registered company, which enabled me to take on larger projects and clients.
Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t all been easy breezy and free-flowing, I’ve had some bumps and knocks along the way, but it’s how I reacted in those moments that has led to my continued success. I’ll write more about that in a subsequent blog post later this year ‘The 10 things I’ve learnt from 10 years in business’.
How does my son feel about my brave plan 10 years ago?
Enzo is now 14 years old and over 6ft tall. He’s proud of his mum and we have an extremely close relationship. He feels that I’ve been there for him throughout the years and loves the home we have created together (actually he just grunted at me when I asked him, but I think this is what he thinks!). Not only have I been present for him, I’ve also demonstrated resilience and what hard work and determination can accomplish.
I couldn’t have reached this milestone without my fantastic clients
At this point, I must say how grateful I am to have had such amazing clients over the years who have believed in me and supported me, as much as I have supported them. It takes a pretty damn special team to create something magic and I am lucky to have developed great partnerships with long term clients such as Brigit’s Bakery, City of London Corporation, FTI Consulting, Go View London, and Bestoutcome.
I look forward to the next 10 years in business prior to retiring by the seaside, with an art studio to paint and while away the days. Plus obviously for those who know me well, at least 3-4 sessions of tennis a week!
Browse the brand + website projects I’ve created over the last 10 years: az.design portfolio ›
If you’re looking for graphic design, web design, or brand building support, or know someone who is, do get in touch and I’d love to have a chat about how we could work together for the next 10 years….
Founder + Creative Director of az.design