You are your biggest challenge - #CompanySpotlight

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We were quite surprised to read that Studio Noel's biggest challenge to its own development was... Michelle Noel, Creative Director.

It takes some guts and definitely self-awareness to recognise your own limits, and Michelle did so quite beautifully in the interview below, as she told us about her journey in setting up a beautiful small branding agency.

We'll leave it to her to tell you more. For this Company Spotlight, we are learning about a small agency with great ambitions and a lovely body of work, and how a mix of perseverance and positivity led it to where it is now.


How was your company born and where are you based?

The company formed organically, I had been freelancing for a couple of years and one of the companies I worked at moved offices and it became more tricky for me to commute there so I moved into a co-working space closer to home. I started collaborating and doing work for some of the other members in the space and it grew from there. 

What was the biggest challenge to the growth of your company?

Me! When you start off you do every part of the process, from the pitching, designing right through to the invoicing. The biggest challenge was learning to let go and delegate parts of this process, it’s meant that the business runs more smoothly and I have more time to concentrate on the right parts of the business.


Which was the first huge success that you can remember?

The first success for me was getting that first big client –  the brand manager took a chance on partnering with a small, start-up company and I’ll always be grateful for that. At the time it was just me working on my own, having that client allowed me to grow the team and bring on board other established brands.  

What’s the biggest opportunity for you and your company in the next year?

If Covid has taught me anything its meant that we can work more flexibly and work with more clients and creatives globally.


Can you explain your team’s creative process?

Our focus is on collaboration and research to get a solid understanding of the brand we’re working on and our clients challenges. We’ve run workshops, become secret shoppers, worked in shops for the day and have even done a few hot yoga classes to fully immerse ourselves in our clients brands.  Only then do we start on the creative side of the project – finding inspiration out and about, sketching and finally trying out ideas on the computer. We also love to find new artists, illustrators and photographers to collaborate with to bring our ideas to life. 

How does your team remain inspired and motivated?

We enjoy going to exhibitions, creative talks, doing workshops and reading. I think getting away from the screen and going for a walk is always a really great way to stay inspired, it’s amazing how many ideas pop into your head when your not feeling tied to your desk. One thing I’m really keen on is learning new things, whether that’s doing a creative course or something completely unrelated to design I think it all helps with staying motivated and inspired.


How has COVID-19 affected your company?

At the start of this it was a big adjustment having to work from home, I miss the creative atmosphere and buzz of being in our office. It was definitely much easier to collaborate on projects but out of this situation has also come some great learnings on how we can work in a more flexible way and how we can streamline some of our processes.

Which individuals do you gain inspiration from? Do you have any heroes in the industry?

I still find the people who helped shaped my career are a source of inspiration as they changed the way I think and how I look to find inspiration. From Studio Dowling’s immense collection of old and new books to Irving & Co where they had a beautiful collection of antiques and ephemera. It always taught me to look to gain inspiration from a wealth of different sources and places.


What is one tip that you would give to other aspiring creatives looking for work?

Adopt a positive approach to perseverance, whether that’s believing in yourself to keep up your search for work or pushing your creativity. 

What’s your one big hope for the future of the industry?

That people continue to evaluate the way they work to get a better work / life balance and look for more flexible working ways whether that be with their employees or clients.  

Do you have any websites, books or resources that you would recommend?

I’ve loved reading Yearbook Five from Hiut Denim, it shows how their business focuses on achieving small wins everyday and the compounding effect that it can have on a business. It has been a great source of motivation for implementing small changes in our company. I also love finding a good charity bookshop as they often have a fantastic collection of old books on random subjects, over the years I’ve collected books on everything from pottery makers marks and decorative tea caddies to collections of found ephemera and wine labels, all of which I find are a great source for inspiration. 


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