Tell me a little bit about yourself. What’s your background/career path?
Family background of print, but was completely drawn to design in all its forms, so I dabbled in a few areas but my love of graphics won through. I attended LCC, and then worked my way up through several businesses to managing studios before starting my own.
Tell me about your agency. What is it you do and what prompted you to start up your own?
After managing studios for many years I decided there was a better way of doing things, and so in the May of 1999 Imagehaus (later morphing into The Creative Haus) was started. 18 years later I decided to start again so that I could focus on my passion, branding, and Nicola Wordsworth, my new consulting agency began. I work with the likes of Wedgwood, Finsbury Foods, and the British Library. Due to one of my specialist areas being food and retail, I also sit as a judge on the Quality Food Awards, which is great fun.
What do you think are the most important issues for developing your company culture?
Ensuring that everyone plays to their strengths, but are given the opportunity to grow personally if they desire. I strongly believe that a happy agency is a successful one, and this is sometimes a difficult ask with lots of different personalities in the room, but I strive to achieve this.
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a woman in business?
The biggest challenge is ensuring that family life doesn’t impact business. It’s funny how men are so often not the ones to give up their day working if a child is ill, or childcare has let you down. When you have a big meeting it’s not going to look good if you bail last minute due to family commitments. It’s difficult, and you need to accept that sometimes you won’t be home for the milestones.
The Wow Company’s recent survey of 471 agency owners across the UK has the figures as Female 27% – Male 73%. Can you share your thoughts on this?
I think the above answer has a lot to do with this, and the perception that the woman’s career isn’t as important as the mans needs to change – and not just by the men, women need to step up too.
Do you have a mentor, or are you a member of an agency owner community?
I don’t have a mentor, or belong to an agency owner community. They weren’t really an option in 1999 when I started my agency. I have been a member of a few mastermind groups over the last few years, but they weren’t creative specific.
Do you feel as a female agency founder, they offer the level of support you need?
I’m not sure it’s specifically ‘female’ support required, sometimes it’s just somewhere to turn for business support when needed.
What other female founders inspire you?
Sophie Thomas, Thomas Matthews. She also believes that it’s not about being a ‘woman creative’ in a ‘male creative’ world. It never occurred to me either that this isn’t something I shouldn’t or couldn’t do. I just did it.
What do you think makes a great agency?
A great attitude, with a fab creative team, a mixed skill set. This will attract great clients and ultimately interesting and exciting projects.
What would be your one piece of advice to future female leaders?
It’s not always going to be easy, there will be tough decisions (at home and at work) to make if you are going to have a long career as a business owner, but you have to be happy with what you do at least 80% of the time. Why else do it?