Tell me a little bit about yourself.
I am Victoria Hilditch, founder of Vinco Marketing, a full-service agency that specialises in niche and aspirational brands.
I live by the seaside in Bognor Regis (I promise it isn’t just a holiday destination for stag dos!) – with my 9 month old son, Hugo and my partner Eden.
What’s your background/career path?
I started my career around ten years ago after studying Fashion Media & Promotion at the University of Brighton.
I started work in-house as a Marketing Assistant in a large London maintenance firm. It was here that I studied for my CIM exams. Later, at just 25, I became the Marketing Manager of the famous London residential complex Dolphin Square, where I looked after a large marketing budget and launched the award-winning Spa in SW1. I have very fond memories of my time at Dolphin Square.
After five years of working in both London and Brighton, I decided to move back to my home town in West Sussex.
Moving back south meant limited job opportunities and so I worked within agencies, something I never thought I would do (there is a story about that which I will have to explain another time!). I worked for various small local agencies as an Account Manager looking after clients such as the RSPCA, Boeing, Mastercard and many more.
In between working for some local agencies I also undertook a six-month contract for an email platform provider. Here I was working in Sales (something that was out of my comfort zone but vital experience for someone who knew they wanted to work for themselves).
In late 2015 I then decided to take the big move into self-employment and set up Vinco Marketing.
Tell me about your agency.
We are based in the centre of Chichester in a gorgeous old mill building. We share the building with other small agencies and an art gallery is beneath us – which is great for keeping the creativity flowing.
We are full service and do everything, from brand creation and design for print, through to digital services, such as website design and build, social media, strategy, performance marketing and much more.
We have clients from a large geographical area who vary greatly in industry. However, most of the brands we tend to work with are high-end or aspirational.
Although a fairly new agency, our team is growing fast and consists of Account Managers, a Social Media Manager, designers and our website developer.
What is it you do and what prompted you to start up on your own?
I have always had a keen interest in business. At 14 years old, I used to buy sweets in bulk from my local newsagent and bundle them up and sell them at school to make a profit. I think I was the only school kid with the latest mobile phone and who had the latest TV in their bedroom.
Although being very dyslexic and hating every minute of school, I think I was just born to work for myself.
I always found working for someone else difficult. I am very passionate, full of ideas and often felt trapped in an environment where I couldn’t take those ideas forward.
So, I wanted to start an agency that, although might provide the same services as many other agencies, had a transparent and honest approach to its service and pricing.
I also wanted to create an environment where the staff felt valued and that all of their ideas were taken on board, so they could feel part of the management team as much as I do!
What do you think are the most important issues for developing your company culture?
Over the years I have worked at so many companies that had real issues with internal politics.
People end up hating coming to work and it is just a horrid environment to work in.
If there are ever problems like that here we nip them in the bud as quickly as possible. We ensure we have regular team lunches out and enjoy socialising and talking non-work stuff too.
I am proud to say we are more like a bunch of close friends working together.
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a woman in business?
I often feel extremely overlooked and not taken seriously. It doesn’t help that I am female, blonde, short and look a lot younger than I am (so I am told anyway).
I have attended numerous networking events where in a room I felt people just didn’t approach me. I now tend to focus on one on one networking, by meeting with connections for a coffee in person.
Although this is more expensive and takes up time, it gives me the opportunity to show my marketing knowledge and experience.
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 if a woman wants to be a mother, it is bloody hard to do that while working. I didn’t stop working – I even had a printer drop off proofs to the maternity ward while I was in the middle of my induction.
For five weeks childcare came to my house and I worked from home. Once I was able to drive I went into the office full time and my son went into full time child care with a family member. It was a tough and emotional decision to make but being a business owner in a new business you have to be around to ensure that the business is a success and everything is running smoothly.
I can completely understand that not many people feel right with doing this (especially on those nights when you get woken every half an hour and then have to do a pitch to five client board members). It is hard and pretty full on. I hardly sleep and have a very hectic life.
I would say this is one of the biggest reasons that makes it hard. I have at times thought that being a career woman and a mum is not really possible. I am very thankful to our support network that has enabled me to do this – but it has been a lot of bloody hard work as well!
Do you have a mentor, or are you a member of an agency owner community?
We are members of the DBA, Wired Sussex and most recently we have been awarded a place on The Drum’s Recommended Agency Register.
These are all things that help us keep up to speed with the industry and also gain new clients.
Do you feel as a female agency founder, they offer the level of support you need?
I feel that, through organisations such as the DBA, there is lots of support out there. If you have the time to access it.
Do you need additional support that isn’t currently available?
No. Although, it would be good to meet a network of people who have had a similar experience of being a woman in business.
What other female founders inspire you?
I was lucky to have interviewed Dame Anita Roddick while I was studying at university.
Her story is a true inspiration. She lived very close to my home town in West Sussex and is an example of someone who worked extremely hard to achieve great things, while being a decent human being at the same time.
She mentioned to me when we met that entrepreneurship is all about survival. And she is right – that is what drives me forward.
What do you think makes a great agency?
One that not only focuses on great design but also understands the marketing strategy behind it. And with that strategy should come great results and return on investment for clients.
What would be your one piece of advice to future female leaders?
You can do it – you just might have to work bloody hard to get there.