After leaving university and having a new baby, Vicki Gray found opportunities for flexible or part-time working difficult to come by in the agency world. So, she set up her own business and now leads her own in-house creative team, helping companies showcase their unique qualities.
How did you end up sitting where you are today?
I left university in 1999 with a graphic design degree and went straight into setting up my own company, primarily as a logo designer and print designer. I have always had the drive and energy to help and support others in business while growing my own business.
Over the years, I have learnt about website design and keeping up to date with trends, and now I produce the whole brand collateral; the keyword throughout all my work is consistency.
My university days taught me to think about the meaning and symbolism behind any mark, font, or colour used by brands. I really enjoy the psychology behind design.
What kind of work does your role involve?
I work with clients who need a brand that truly authentically reflects their business. I use a very unique and fun process of deep discovery work and conversations to draw out the qualities of a business. Once we have achieved this, I develop logo designs, digital brochures and website designs.
I also have a team I collaborate with, including a graphic designer, copywriters, and photographers, to have consistency throughout visual and verbal content. I wouldn't be without my account handler, Mary. She keeps the accounts, invoicing and proposals ship shape!
What gets you excited about your industry?
Building relationships and seeing my clients grow. I take them on a journey and work with them throughout their own journey of growth.
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
To remember my values:
To have balance in my life. Which can be difficult when running my own business.
Have a connection with people. I'm an extrovert and gain energy from others.
To have freedom. Which I have running my own business and never being employed.
Being happy and healthy.
What, or who inspires you?
I've learnt a lot from Stephen Houraghan, who is a brand strategist based in Australia. I've learnt a lot from him by building new processes into my work.
I also gain inspiration for a lot of my work by being in nature.
How do you keep up to speed with what's happening in your industry?
Reading and learning from other global designers, joining webinars and following inspirational leaders in the design sector on social media.
What was the most challenging project or situation you've overcome?
I started my business straight from university because I graduated with a 6-month-old son. Companies wouldn't employ me back then on a part-time basis because flexible working hours didn't really exist. I also wanted balance in my life. Setting up my own business was the most challenging thing I have done, and it was the best thing I have ever achieved. I would have felt like a bird in a trapped cage working in the full-time agency world.
You finish work today and step outside the office to find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
I would still want to help other businesses to evolve their brand. However, I would have a bigger team of people to support me and collaborate with, so I have more time to travel the world. I would also buy a place in Cornwall by the sea and a bigger house in the Cotswolds.
How do you switch off after a day at work?
I run 3 times a week and walk every day if I can, my camera also joins me! I also enjoy meeting up with friends (when we can out of lockdown). We go cycling together or go to a yoga class. I'm not very good at sitting and doing nothing, but I will watch the occasional film at the weekend.
If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?
To coach other designers who want to leave the agency world and set up their own business. I did it, so to teach others would be great while giving something back.
What book or podcast should everyone know about?
'Get Rich, Lucky Bitch' by Denise Duffield-Thomas has been great to turn my money mindset around, so I would recommend it to anyone.
How should people connect with you?
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