BRAND NEW JOURNEY KLAXON! We’re kicking off this week with Danielle, Designer and Founder of Danielle Clarke Creative. This very month, last year, right in the thick of the pandemic, Danielle decided to go all in on running her own business… and she’s bossing it, helping health, wellness & fitness businesses build better brands. She’s also busy helping the next generation, through lecturing and mentoring. Read on to discover; how she’s rejecting elitism, her vision of a truly diverse workforce, and how she forged an amazing work/life balance during lockdown.
Halah, what’s your creative occupation?
Founder and Brand Designer at DCC (Danielle Clarke Creative)
Where have you been?
After graduating from Staffordshire University way back in 2010, I started as an intern at a place in Nottingham called Chemistry Digital, then did another internship at BHS. After that, I landed a contract role as a designer at Gtech in Worcester and worked on branding for the AirRam vacuum.
I got my first permanent role as an artworker at an agency called ITG, which gave me a taste of a fast-paced agency environment. I got to work on stuff for the likes of KFC, Skoda, M&S, National Trust, the list goes on! I got promoted to lead creative artworker for the Skoda account and could have progressed but knew in my heart that I wanted to be a designer, not an artworker, which is a more technical role. So, I moved to a designer position at B&C and spent 4 years working with a lot of corporate clients. I learned a great deal and developed as a designer but it was a really small design studio and there just wasn’t the room for progression – so I took the leap, and left.
My next role was working at a company called Soak, which is probably one of the best jobs I’ve ever had. I got to work for an amazing, fun brand, alongside digital marketers, e-commerce, buying, merchandise and across every platform you can think of, and worked on a wide variety of project briefs. It was an incredible journey but unfortunately that came to an end just before the company went bust. I went on to work for a luxury retailer for a short time, before balancing a freelance career with a design role at Next. In September 2020 (yep, right in the middle of a pandemic) I decided to go all in on running my own business.
Where are you now?
During the pandemic I was lucky enough to be kept on by Next, working on the directory catalogue. I had plenty to do as some of the other designers were put on furlough. And although I had calls with my manager everyday, I had to manage my own time. Plus, being at home, having access to the TV whenever I wanted (I’m a sucker for Homes Under the Hammer) and all that lovely hot weather was sometimes quite tempting. But I didn’t take it easy, I still got my work done. I was disciplined enough not to take advantage of the fact that I was working from home. So, when my contract at Next came to an end, I was kind of used to going for a proper lunch hour, not having the daily commute before and after work, and getting stuck in traffic. My studio was looking nice as I’d invested in some more kit, so I had everything I needed at home to be able to do my job. That’s when the question surfaced, “do I need to work for someone else?”. All I needed to do was get some more of my own clients and I could hold onto this great work/life balance I’d established. So that’s what I did. I’d been smart enough to save up 6 months of expenses, so that took the pressure off. 11 months in and I’m still going strong!
Where are you going?
My vision is to build a team, eventually. I’m moving forward with the ethos that I’m here to do the design I want, with good people that want to have a positive impact on the world. I’m focusing on working with business owners in the health, wellness and fitness space, as I’ve realised it’s an industry I know a bit about (I play hockey and do yoga), and I tend to align with people in those sectors. I also want to make brand and design accessible to people that don’t understand it. I’m here to try to remove the elitism that’s so often found in our industry – there’s just no need for it. I’m also here to diversify the industry; when I think about my future workforce, I want it to be diverse – men and women from different backgrounds, different walks of life, different skill sets, but with the same values that I have. I’ve also recently been doing lectures at BCU as I want to give back to the next generation of designers. I remember how scary it was leaving Uni and going out into the ‘real world’ – not having anyone that looks like me that I could trust to give me advice and tips, so I want to fill that gap… that’s why I’m here.
Finally, what’s occupying your thoughts today?
Chocolate. I’ve discovered Green & Blacks 85% dark chocolate and it’s heaven. But it’s all gone.
Chocolate is powering us through today, too! Thanks for sharing your journey, Danielle! Got any questions for Danielle, or just want to say ‘hi’? Reach out to her via our ‘Members’ page. Not a member yet? Join us today for networking, mentoring, resources & more!