Take five with Kim Whyte, FiggyDoo Founder & Creative Director and Designs on Growth graduate 2021, to know a little bit more about FiggyDoo, her experience on the programme and how it benefited her design business’ growth.
1) You describe your Brand Identity, Art Direction, Illustration, Event & Exhibition Design work as focusing on the human connection. What do you mean by this? Does it influence the kind of people you work with?
The human connection piece is two-fold: Firstly, Figgydoo is a purpose-led studio with a business model that looks beyond profit to positively impact society. Clients include Women for Women International, The Kindness Corporation, and the Women’s Equality Party. Secondly, time is dedicated each week to pro bono work for charities and organisations working to promote good social causes.
2) What are the pros and challenges of running a solopreneur design business?
I employ freelance designers – both local and international. Being the sole Director of a company has its benefits, the main ones for me being the agility and creative control. Learning how to run a sustainable business from the bottom up and having sole responsibility for each element – research, design, sales, client support, website maintenance, bookkeeping, etc. – has been a huge learning curve. I do have plans to make full-time hires in the future, for now, I’m enjoying the flexibility.
3) The covid pandemic has impacted each and every business, for better and worse. What have been the most surprising lessons you’ve learned over the course of the past year?
I had returned to Ireland after living abroad for 10 years and set up Figgydoo during the pandemic. Those two factors combined don’t seem conducive to a profitable business, however as everyone was forced to communicate virtually, I found opportunities to network and make connections more easily than I had done previously. I love the freedom of working remotely, as a creative person having a change of environment can positively influence your work. I was the first person in my previous company to work remotely (pre-covid) and I am delighted to see other companies and agencies continue to embrace this way of working.
4) Figgydoo was only one year old when you enrolled for Designs on Growth. What aspects of the business did you want to improve?
When running a limited company, it can be far too easy to behave like an employee – i.e. working in the business rather than on the business. I wanted to look at opportunities for growth, some validation that what I was doing was ‘right’, and learn from the wealth of experience of other business owners on the course.
5) What were the benefits of learning with other business owners?
This aspect of the programme was fascinating as we were all from different design backgrounds and at various stages of running a business. I was inspired by and learned a huge amount from each person on the course. Having a forum to ask questions, seek advice, and listen to the experiences of the other participants was invaluable.
6) What impact has the completion of the programme had on the way you manage your business?
The biggest impact for me has been the change in mindset. I feel entirely different about my business since completion. It has made me pause, reassess, and move forward in new directions. There are aspects to this programme that have stuck with me, like mini-mantras I recite to myself on a daily basis.
7) What were your key takeaways from the Designs on Growth programme and how have you implemented them into your practice?
Spending at least one day a week working on the business, developing a growth mindset around finances, and continually referring to the behaviour model have been game-changers.
8) What return on investment did you see from the Designs on Growth programme?
Learning practical ways to increase my productivity (in some cases, by 50%) has led to increased revenue and a side project that was a vague idea at the start of the programme is due to launch this summer.
9) Would you recommend the programme to others and why?
Yes. Jeannette is a mine of information and encourages you to think differently. Plus, having a network of design business owners as a sounding board is enormously beneficial.
10) Design heroes, dead or alive – who would you cite as key influences or mentors in your career?
Marina Willer for the intelligence and consistency of her work.
Dave Trott for his lateral thinking.
Mary Wells Lawrence for blazing a trail in the male-dominated advertising world of the 50s, 60s and 70s.
You can get in touch with Kim Whyte via Linkedin
Find out more about the Designs on Growth.
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