Kettle on for a chat with Róisín Buckley, Piquant Producer and Director and Designs on Growth graduate 2019, to know a little bit more about Piquant, her upcoming projects, her experience on the programme and how it benefited her design business’ growth.
- What was your aspiration in founding Piquant?
What was a start-up of 2 has developed in 9 years to a full-service creative agency with a team of 16. The aspiration was always to create good work with good people for good clients, that might sound corny but Piquant’s fundamental values of design with purpose, equality, community, creativity and sustainability were there from the beginning and it was always the aspiration to create work that was in line with our values.
- What’s in the pipeline for Piquant at the moment?
We love working in the education sector and have had the good fortune to work with third level institutions throughout the country; we’ve just secured a 3-year contract with an institute that we haven’t worked with before and we are very excited about that. We are also working on a number of campaigns that are due to launch in the next couple of weeks, including a national campaign to build awareness of the need and value of empathy in our society and a local anti-racism campaign. We have some very interesting Drupal websites in progress at the moment and have a number of publications and video projects ready to kick off in June.
- You completed the programme just before the covid pandemic. How has the programme helped in navigating that new challenge?
I feel that we were really lucky with the timing, as we were able to complete the programme in person and had the opportunity to meet and build relationships with the programme leaders and with the other business owners, as well as the chance to visit different locations – which I always feel is beneficial for creativity and idea generation. The programme inspired and supported us to put a range of business and creative processes and systems in place, which we had developed just before the pandemic, and these undoubtedly helped us navigate and survive the pandemic.
- Piquant is a well-established media agency with a team of 15. Why did you think the programme would be a good fit for Piquant and what did you want to achieve through the programme?
When we started on the programme in 2019 we were 6 years in business and in the previous 18 months had hired a number of really talented creatives and were up to 9 people at that stage. We had the realisation that until then we were operating more like a group of freelancers who shared the same objectives and values, which really worked well for us up to that point but as we expanded we realised that we need to have more solid systems and processes in place so that for the new team members it was clear how we operated. We heard about the Designs for Growth programme at Offset and knew that was exactly what we needed – and we were not disappointed!
- What were the benefits of learning with other business owners?
It was so lovely to meet the other business owners and to learn together. It was brilliant on a personal level, but also on a professional level, to speak with people who were going through the same challenges and were considering the same issues. There was a wonderful open, sharing and creative energy in the room and I definitely benefited from the experience – I hope they did too!
- What impact has the completion of the programme had on the way you manage your business?
Since completing the programme we have put in place a full range of systems and processes including a project management system, a sustainability operations policy, a child protection policy, systems for every service in our business, data management systems, a team onboarding system and a student placement programme and more. This might not sound like the most fun side of running a creative agency. However, the impact of having systems and processes in place is that it frees up time and head-space for creativity, play and ultimately the production of beautiful work. The development of systems and processes also meant that during the pandemic, once we got through the initial shock of the first 6 months, we were able to get back to building our business and creating work for clients.
- What were your key takeaways from the Designs on Growth programme?
Mindset – having a business mindset that creates space to work on the business and not only in the business. We’ve applied this throughout the business and continue to work with the course leader and business coach Jeannette Naughton to ensure maximum creativity and effectiveness at Piquant.
- What return on investment did you see from the Designs on Growth programme?
Since completing Designs on Growth we have taken on 7 new team members, have increased turnover by 50% and have had the opportunity to create impactful and beautiful work for clients that we value and are proud to work for.
- Would you recommend the programme to others and why?
Absolutely! Do it! Doing the programme brought clarity to our sense of purpose, helped me understand my role in running the business and gave us the tools, confidence and support to develop the business. I enjoyed the programme so much and wanted to continue learning that I then went and enrolled in a Professional Diploma in Creativity Innovation and Leadership with UCD which was also amazing and allowed me to continue the learning that I started in Designs for Growth.
- What advice would you give to someone who is just getting started with their agency?
Be clear on who you are, work with people who have complementary skills but similar values and be honest with yourself and others. Oh and get a good folder and data storage structure in place straight away!
You can get in touch with Róisín Buckley via Linkedin
Find out more about the Designs on Growth.
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