Tell me a little bit about yourself.
Hi my name is Maggie Lucas and I will be hitting the big 50 this year!! I have been married to my husband Phil for 32 years and we have four cats – yes I am that crazy cat lady.
I left school like most of my friends back in 1984 having no clue what I was going to do. We didn’t have the opportunities open to us like the kids of today. To stay on at school and go to University a luxury for the very brainy and quite well off – neither of which applied to me. I struggled at school especially at exam times my brain went blank, I excelled more in course work and Art was my favourite subject.
I started work on a Youth Training Scheme and attended day release at College to learn office skills, again a favourite for girls my age!! It was a year long scheme and I was taken on. I really loved the job which was working as a Doctors Receptionist, I did both surgeries morning and evening and just loved meeting people, the problem was the money was rubbish and the hours very long and I was just about to get married I knew this had to change.
I went to meet a friend for lunch and she worked in a typesetting/graphic design agency, I have always been confident and when I turned up the MD asked if I had come for an interview I of course said yes if there was a job going. He asked if I was good at English and Maths (well English was ok, Maths terrible) I told him excellent at both and retuned for an interview the next day. I never expected him to test me and just couldn’t do the test, he asked why I had said I was good and I said I thought that by the time I had to use maths he would be so impressed with my other skills he would keep me. For my cheek he took me on.
I worked in various areas of the business and worked my way up from dogs body, proof reader to Sales Director in 13 years. I left as the owner and I clashed constantly and it was his business!!
Tell me about your agency.
Having left the original graphic design business I worked in multiple agencies and then 14 years later the owner at the original agency tracked me down and asked me back to run the company. He had retired – well was doing one day a week – the agency was struggling and 11 people were at risk of losing their jobs, the problem was the agency didn’t move with the times.
I loved being back and working with the team but as we got busier the more the owner was involved, this again was not a good blend of personalities. Returning I learnt a lot about how to motivate your team, win clients around, develop new clients etc etc.
I decided to leave and the Creative Director decided to join me and we jointly set up Square One Creative just over 3 years ago.
What do you think are most important issues for developing your company culture?
Having worked in other agencies and seeing how they work I had a clear idea of the type of culture I wanted in our agency and the type of staff I wanted to work with.
Predominantly we wanted staff and clients we can trust. We are very ethical in what we do, if a client asks for something that we think will not give them the results they are looking for we won’t do it. We will come up with alternatives and present them, the final decision is always with the client but we ensure they have the information they need to make the correct choice.
One of the reasons we work so well together is we are all pulling in the same direction and we communicate, if there is a particular challenge with a job/client we discuss it as a team and come up with solutions.
Most importantly we enjoy working together and the work we do, it is a great place to work and be.
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a women in business?
Having risen in the ranks in the late 80’s and early 90’s, there were very few women in business I would say 95% of the clients and suppliers I worked with were all owned by men and run by men at the top. I had to be strong and confident to compete so to be totally honest I find it a breeze these days, there are far more women in top positions and owning their own businesses crikey there are even women only networking groups too – who would have thought it!!
The main challenge I feel female agency owners face is the same challenge that male agency owners face and that is the online industries that have driven down prices – I could rant about this all day but will restrain.
The Wow Company’s recent survey of 471 agency owners across the UK has the figures as Female 27% – Male 73%. Can you share you thoughts on this?
Why do I feel there are less female agency owners? To be totally honest about this I think it is a confidence thing, like running any business it is a challenge and not for the feint hearted, it is 100% full on and I would hate to add up the hours I work in and on my business these days. I think women have so many other responsibilities as wives, mothers and carers (looking after elderly parents etc), they just can’t do it. Am ready for the backlash!!! Most of the agency owners I know are male and most of the talented female designers I know are freelance graphic designers this is a much more flexible role for them than running a big agency with staff and all the other demands and pressures.
Do you have a mentor, or are you a member of an agency owner community?
Throughout my career I have always worked with a coach, I just think that no matter how driven and focused you are you need to be accountable to someone to grow and prosper. I currently take part in a coaching group which is excellent as we share knowledge.
Do you feel as a female agency founder, they offer the level of support you need?
Do you need additional support that isn’t currently available?
What other female founders inspire you?
Dame Anita Roddick – she set up her business whilst bringing up two children her husband was working abroad, she opened The Body Shop and was an activist and campaigned for environmental and social issues. One of her beliefs was that business should offer a form of moral leadership, she was the first business to promote Fair Trade with developing companies. A true inspiration and shows you can be a nice person and reach the top!!!
Rachel Elnaugh – Rachel set up the company Red Letter Days and was one of the first female dragons in Dragons Den. I remember going to a Chamber of Commerce Event one evening and Rachel was the key speaker, when I arrived I spoke to my contacts at the Chamber and they were worried that Rachel would not turn up as her business had gone into liquidation that day!!
To her credit she turned up, it was a very tough gig for her but she was 100% honest and knew where it had gone wrong, warned us so we didn’t make the same mistake and was just incredible. Again a really nice genuine and honest lady.
What do you think makes a great agency?
What would be your one piece of advice to future female leaders?
Be true to yourself and what you believe in, always give 100%, do make sure you get that work life balance right – sorry 3 things there!!