Vicky Hutchinson, Graphic Arts and Design, class of 1996
Creative Director – The CreativeHutch Ltd
What did you study at University of Cumbria and why did you pick this course?
Foundation in Graphic Arts and Design from 1995 to 1996.
How has your course helped your employability skills and prospects?
The course helped me to gain confidence in my skills and interests in design for communication and pique my curiosity in all the mediums available to me at the time. It set me up to explore options when thinking of solutions to project challenges in my degree and now my client's needs - how can I best solve a problem and in what way, rather than going down one format and route.
Tell us about your business, what is the name, when did it start and what do you sell/provide? CreativeHutch was set up four years ago when I moved back home from 20 years in London, I set it up as a freelance consulting business - I worked with clients on branding strategies, naming, brand identity and all things design. I worked remotely before remote working was the norm so it took a little time to build up relationships with clients where they felt confident to work with someone over zoom! My clients were mainly London or American based so the remote factor worked well.
I then teamed up with my now business partner Carol Wallace who is a genius at digital marketing. I felt that my clients needed a more consistent and continued approach to their brand development and I wanted to ensure that once their brand was defined and they had a strong identity we could then guide and help them to execute the marketing properly and the work and their brand didn't just fizzle away.
CreativeHutch has now grown over the last year to give a full offering to our clients that includes guidance and advice for starting your business, brand strategy, naming facilitation, marketing plans, brand identity and graphic design - through to digital marketing, templates and website, this is where we work with our trusted partners on development, SEO and copywriting to create the best results and strong consistent brand throughout.
We also do a lot of on and offline workshops to help people develop their own brand strategies and understand the basics of digital marketing.
We have a team of consultants in our studios that solely work on SEO, PR and content creation so we always have an expert at hand.
Find out more about CreativeHutch and Vicky’s work here:
Who is involved in the running and development of your business?
Myself and my business partner Carol Wallace
Who are your target customers?
We work with a variety of businesses. We have recently set up the CreativeHutch Partnership to work with start-ups and through CreativeHutch we tend to work with marketing teams in larger organisations to help them with their brand strategies, marketing plans and execution and marketing teams always have big goals and little people recourse to achieve these.
How is your business developing, have you secured any major customers or contracts?
We have had a great year and we have just brought in a business development consultant to work with us monthly and ensure we grow in the right way and at the right pace otherwise, we may trip over ourselves.
We are looking to hire a strong team over the next six months and fill the great studio spaces we have on Cecil street. We have secured three big clients to start in September - Two are local to Cumbria and one is based in Surrey. We are working with all three on their brand strategy (their vision, values, mission, tone of voice, messaging etc) Brand identity, website design and development and ongoing marketing plans for the digital environment.
What are you most proud of?
The team. We have a great team of passionate, kind and very skilled people. We have a core team who work full time with us such as Debbie our fabulous senior designer through to a team of consultants who work in our studio and others across Newcastle and Manchester that we work with as and when a project needs their skills. This allows us to be more streamlined in the way we work, more effective with budgets but also ensure consistency and high-quality work and outputs at all times.
Everyone we have on our team and work with as partners have a very similar set of values that include hard work, empathy, curiosity, collaboration and creative thinking.
I love our culture and working environment and look forward to growing this and creating an inspired space.
What are your aspirations for the future of your business?
Carol and I would like to create a business that has a strong team and mix of creative passionate souls. We want to create more collaboration with other businesses to strengthen the creativity and services that are offered to brands and businesses in Cumbria and the North.
Our vision is to create an agency that rivals those in Manchester, London and Newcastle so that larger local businesses can come to us rather than further afield. Which in turn will help keep and attract great talent to Cumbria.
What is your advice for anyone looking to start their own business?
Research and reach out.
Always make sure you love what you do as you will need to work hard at it (smart and hard) it should be about your why not just the money as that won't sustain you in the beginning.
But if you love what you do then you need to research your competitors (if you have any) so you can see where your product or service might differ or how your position yourself (for example, high-end, budget etc), and your audience - so you know their needs and how to talk to them. This is key to making sure you know how to stand out and market your service/product.
Reaching out is also important. You have to wear many hats when you have a business and you can't be good at everything. So understand your strengths and stick to those and if you can, outsource the things you are not so good at. Or ask for help, it can take you double the time to do something your not good at and you're better off paying someone to do it in half the time and better and leaving you to work on your vision and where you add value to your business.
Anything else you want to add?
Just reiterating the above. You really need to be passionate about your WHY. Why are you setting up the business or going alone - this is the thing that will get you out of bed every morning. Your vision /why is the north star for you and will help you to create a proper plan. Without a plan you can take a few wrong turns before hitting on the right path and this can cost time and money that you may not have.
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