Ellen Hedley, co-founder and director of Vida Creative.
Jane Imrie

Meet the MD: Vida Creative co-founder and director Ellen Hedley on staying creative during a crisis

PR and marketing entrepreneur Ellen Hedley certainly hasn’t let the COVID-19 pandemic halt her drive.

The co-founder and director of Newcastle-based Vida Creative, Ellen has continued to grow the business despite the coronavirus disruption, and has even used her skills to support the region’s independent businesses affected by the crisis.

Ellen spoke with Bdaily about starting her own company, her views on leadership and how she has steered the business through uncertainty.

Can you tell the readers about yourself first of all - i.e. your background, where you are from etc?

“I’m from Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk originally, but my dad’s side of the family is from Newcastle so I’d been coming here all my life before settling here in 2018.

“I started my career in a PR agency before moving into higher education marketing. I worked my way up to senior level then decided I wanted to travel.

“My partner and I (who is now my business partner too) set up our own business so we could have the freedom to travel, sold everything we owned, bought a campervan and travelled Europe on and off for two years.

“Whilst travelling the business went from a couple of freelancers to something more. We had to decide between making a proper go of building the business or stifling the growth and carrying on travelling. We decided on the latter and have never looked back since!”

What does your role entail?

“All sorts! I manage the content marketing and SEO side of the business, but I also do a lot of business development too which I’ve grown to love.

“Day-to-day I can be doing anything from meeting clients, writing proposals, holding strategy workshops or writing blog articles.

“I also think it’s important to share the business vision with the team so I try to do that in everything I do.”

When was Vida Creative set up, and how has it grown since then?

“Vida Creative was set up in 2016. It started off as me and my business partner Henry helping small businesses with marketing and building websites.

“Henry’s a website developer who started his career in an agency so we understood how it worked and had a good understanding of what we had to do if we wanted to grow the business.

“When we finished travelling in 2018 we settled in Newcastle, joined a business accelerator programme and grew enough to hire our first two employees in 2019.

“We had a fantastic start to 2020 which meant we were able to hire two more employees so we’re now a team of six. It’s myself and Henry, two designers, a developer and content creator.”

What is it about your organisation that motivates and excites you the most?

“I love the fact that what we do genuinely helps businesses grow and we get to have a great time doing it.

“It’s always amazing to see the impact your work has in helping our clients achieve their goals.

“I’m excited about the prospect of continuing to grow the business. We have such a great team so I’m also really motivated by them, and making sure we create a culture where they enjoy coming to work and love what they do.”

Looking back on the past year, what has been your biggest achievement?

“I think the business growth is the thing I’m most proud of. Both in terms of employee numbers but also in terms of our brand, establishing what we do and what we’re about.

“Getting this down has enabled us to make a name for ourselves in Newcastle, secure bigger projects and create new and exciting opportunities for our team.”

What have been your biggest challenges during your time at Vida Creative so far, and how have you overcome them?

“The biggest challenge was getting traction in the early days – I guess a lot of entrepreneurs experience that when they set up a business.

“We just stuck at it because we knew we were good at what we were doing. I must admit I didn’t find it easy at all but eventually it paid off!

“I think we’re quite lucky that we haven’t faced too many big challenges since the business started growing at a faster rate, but we’re always ready to face them when they do come along.”

What does the future hold for your company? Any exciting projects in the pipeline we should know about?

“We had a fantastic start to 2020 and despite the pandemic we’re still planning to double our turnover this year which is pretty exciting for us!

“I can’t really talk about our current client projects but one of our own projects we’re excited to be working on at the moment is Tyne Collective. It’s a gift voucher platform we set up to support local north east businesses during the pandemic.

“I’m excited to see how many businesses we can help through the scheme during this strange and uncertain time.”

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