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Reflecting on a FFull on year...

A year ago my world wasn’t so yellow. It’s a colour I have always loved and FFunny enough when we FFirst bought our house in FForest hill almost 12 years ago the door was yellow… anyway aside from this interesting FFact I want to share my journey through yellow-ness, the launch of FF and where it has taken me personally on my own creative path.

When the idea of FF was launched last July, we had no idea of it's potential. It literally started as a kitchen table concept with ‘Do you think it’s going to work?’ running FFrantically through our thoughts as we spent every waking hour between our seperate businesses and busy home lives FFuriously eager to make this FF thing stick… for me I was embracing so many FFears. As a creative, we are complicated creatures. We create visual difference that we hold personal to the lens through which we view the world. It doesn’t really matter what changes in society come along, what FFads we are FForced to engage with, what digital interruptions we have to suck up and except; as a creative we always remain true to our being - creativity runs through our veins. We eat, sleep, think, feel and do creative around the clock. Ultimately all I really desire is the freedom to throw artistry around the way I want it and see it and not conform but sadly we have to wear the creative straight jackets and find our own wriggle room within in them… and it doesn’t help that the constraints are confined to a keyboard, screen and electronic mouse. Me, the conventional creative does not want to get up into a crowded room of board directors to ‘sell in’ and explain why one typeface, colour, word, name etc works over another. All I want was for my work to be accepted because I know what it is doing… allow the creative to create and only ask for more of what they see not why. But this is of course, not the world we live in and the creative needs to work harder than ever before and represent so many pieces of the creative pie with personality to boot. So the industry has kind of been pushing me to have to embrace all the elements I never ever wanted to do. Creating the brand of FF was easy - the event part i.e the night, I absolutely loathed. We had to get up on stage and speak. Into a microphone. To a room full of people. I hated every god damn moment of this intense unknown. I hated the way I sounded, I hated what I said, I hated the order in which I said it... and we were getting people to pay for this?? self loathing to the max. But thereafter came the applause, we had been excepted, we were liked and we liked how that made us feel…. we had created something that people genuinely enjoyed and wanted. We had FFound something that could actually work. 

Now looking back, we have gone from a room FFull of people that we knew personally (they were all FForced to come and support us, it felt like the biggest illegal gay wedding as we are both married) to a room full of people who buy tickets online and we haven’t a clue who they are. We don’t spend every waking hour FFacilitatng the FF machine, it FFunctions pretty much at ease, we have about 10 interested FFuture FFeatures throughout our scheduled events, we can FFocus on what we do best which is generating the theme and curating the right FFix for a bespoke and one off evening that inspires, engages and connects with our local community. This month we have had to launch our August event a month ahead of schedule because people want to buy tickets for an event that hasn’t even been FFormalised! we have had to print another 100 of our programmes (that we distribute locally and advertise local businesses for a small fee) because we have run out. All proof FF is growing in the right direction. 

And we must not and will not forget the help from early adopters of our idea - the ones who had to painfully wade through our tongue-tie of sharing what FF was about (before the boiler plate text came along months later). We had great advise from Wayne Hemmingway who we managed to stalk in the early stages and convince him of a phone conversation with us. His advice was awesome. He said we had to work hard at one idea, keep focused on it, create a clear purpose and identify strongly what we wanted it to achieve and everyone will soon catch up if it’s out there enough (he commended us for our efforts as we were already FF-ing the F out of social media). 'Get yourselves recognised for what you bring but have a strong voice in your community too’.

The FF movement doesn’t just stop there. In the process of the project it has actually opened up a whole heap of opportunities that as an individual creative, I would have struggled to make the connections. This year alone, I have more clients working with me than my previous years and the variety of work is really stimulating. I have been allowed to break out of the creative convention because I feel confident and inspired to do so. I am working with more small start-ups than ever before and I now feel I have a model of response that I can package to anyone with a reasonable design budget and a good idea. My website page: http://hholden-design.com/start-ups/ shows my thinking and some of the great new business’s I have had the pleasure to work with and support their launch. If you would like to discuss a business idea you have, lets meet for a cup of tea and see how we can bring your business plan to life. 

If there is anything I would advise it's this - taken from an inspirational quote by African Proverb ; “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Maya and I are the perfect partnership, we think and feel the same but we ‘do’ in different ways so we complement the skills FF needs and that makes for a very powerful FForce. Without eachother FF wouldn’t FFunction. Most importantly you cannot be FFrightened of FFailure. Whatever doesn’t work once (and there will be things that just don’t work) don’t try and FFudge it to FFix it. Learn FFrom it and move FFirmly on. Don’t do anything that is going to FFinacially cripple you. Be creative about FFunding and take things slowly. 

Thanks to everyone that had FFaith in us from the start, we hope we can continue to bring you more FF events and we cannot wait to FFind out where this journey will continue to take us. 

The image within this post contains the FFantastic brand Madlug, founded in 2015 by a Youth Worker called Dave Linton. A man whose only experience in the luggage industry was bags of enthusiasm. Dave was heartbroken to learn that most children in care transport their worldly belongings in a bin bag. In that moment, Dave set out to do something about it. With just £480, he started Madlug and came up with ‘Buy one Give one’ approach: with every bag you purchase, one will be given to a child in care. I was moved to tears when I discovered the impact of this brand and it's totally incredible the work Dave and his small team and doing for vulnerable young lives. Madlug is a total inspiration and whenever I think our FF world is hard work I just think of the amazing impact they are making and I instantly feel better because Dave is proof you can drive a brand that is totally built on good purpose. (if you haven't seen the work of Madlug you must - www.madlug.com)

For those of you that haven’t experienced an FF evening we’d love to see you on the 28th June, the June event marks our 1 year in the making and it's going to be epic. Tickets are selling FFast so do book via our website: https://www.featured15.co.uk/ff-june-2018/

Helen HoldenComment