Our first feature of 2023 is a two for one! We chatted with the lovely Nic and Rachel, founders of In Good Company – feel good evenings where like minded Sheffield-based women can come together to connect, dine and share. Having attended their October ’22 event myself I can tell you… these events are totally unique and ‘re-writing the rule book on modern day networking’. There’s plenty more feathers in these gals’ caps though. Nic (right) is an Art Director and Rachel (left) is a Copywriter and Journalist. They’re both freelancers and in this chat they share some solid gold self-employment insights, as well as their passions, challenges and career ups and downs. Let’s get into it…
What’s your creative occupation?
Nic: In the last few months I have launched a new chapter of my career as a Freelance Art Director after a 14 year career working for marketing agencies. As an Art Director, my role means I have two main jobs: idea creation and hands on styling. At the start of a project it’s my role to really dig into a brief, find the consumer insights that lead to the possible solutions, and make the ideas that really connect with the right audience. Then, if the brief requires, I love art directing photo and film shoots or orchestrating the project across the right team of creatives to bring my ideas to life.
Rachel: I’m a freelance copywriter and journalist with 15+ years experience. I’ve always had a love for storytelling, a fascination with the power of words, and a natural ability to chat freely with people, all of which led me to pursue a career in journalism and later gain experience in copywriting. Editorial-wise, I love coming up with interesting article, feature or blog angles/topics and developing them into engaging or inspiring content through research and interviewing. Meanwhile, copywriting challenges me to capture and hold an audience’s attention whilst perfectly portraying a brand’s unique ethos, values and story to deliver key messages and spark a desired reaction.
Where have you been?
Nic: During my career, I’ve covered a diverse body of work across commercial, editorial, fashion and advertising, creating magic for both big-name brands and inspiring independents. My portfolio includes content for all platforms, brand campaigns, activation, experiences, storytelling, style setting and shoot styling. This whole body of work was produced during my time at two Sheffield-based agencies in my career, working my way up from work placement junior designer to Head of Art Direction.
Rachel: Since qualifying as a journalist, I’ve worked in a variety of writing roles, producing content for print titles and products, as well as leading blogs and digital platforms. This includes news reporting for local and regional publications before moving on to commercial writing, PR and feature editor roles in and around the Yorkshire area. My varied career has seen me turn my hand to a host of writing styles covering subjects from business, education, healthcare and charitable trusts to fashion, interiors, well-being and hospitality. As former Features Editor at one of the UK’s top wedding blogs and leading glossy bridal magazines, I have a specialism in this particular area and continue to get my big-day-kicks crafting content for a number of wedding publications, blogs and copywriting clients.
Where are you now?
Nic: Right now, weeks into the new territory of freelancing (nicsowden.com); I am really focusing on the parts of my role that I love; my joy in idea-making stems from the opportunity to inspire and excite and to find unexpected ways to answer a brief. Meanwhile, my adoration for styling aesthetically pleasing creations is thanks to my artistic eye and natural talent for mood-boarding, scene setting and hands-on styling. I am of course riding the highs and the lows of this new world, and the imposter syndrome is definitely something I am learning to get a firm handle on. But, if you are lucky enough to have a natural talent for something AND experience in doing so, sometimes being your own best cheerleader is the most powerful tool you can have.
This was never more relevant when launching In Good Company with my best friend, Rachel Hirst. In Good Company are feel good evenings where like minded Sheffield-based women can come together to connect, dine and share. We are totally re-writing the rule book on modern day networking, and have brought an idea to life that is like nothing else in the city, or the North!
Rachel: Today, through my freelance business Here For It, I put my storytelling and tone of voice skills to good use helping brands of all sizes and sectors to deliver their messages in more interesting ways via a host of creative and commercial copywriting services. This includes website, blog and social media content, plus e-marketing/newsletter and press release creation. Having entered the freelance world amid a global pandemic, I was fortunate to onboard some really amazing clients, but this new way of working has certainly taken some getting used to. The highs and lows Nic references are constant, and there’s so much to deal with and deliver beyond your actual craft. However, I’ve learnt to celebrate the wins, big or small, and feel so lucky to do something I love every day.
My freelance journey has also taught me the importance of collaboration and connection, which are two main factors in mine and Nic’s joint venture, In Good Company. In bringing the women of Sheffield together for these wholesome and uplifting events, we’ve seen the comfort, confidence and inspiration that can be gleaned from being in a room full of relatable people.
Where are you going?
Nic: For the first time in my career I don’t really know, and I am excited by that. Obviously, I have dreams and ideals of where I would like my work and In Good Company to go, and that’s the drive. Work hard, enjoy the work, and say ‘yes’ to the opportunities that serve YOUR plan.
Rachel: I’d totally echo Nic’s sentiment here. As a freelancer, I don’t think the pathway is clear-cut. I’ve found my direction changing and business evolving as I go, from a mix of the work that comes my way and the opportunities to which I’ve said ‘yes’. This year I made the decision to open my diary up to more ad hoc work rather than sticking purely with retainer clients. While the latter comes with more security and familiarity, I’m keen to push myself out of my comfort zone more, collaborate with more inspiring people and continue to broaden my portfolio.
Finally, what’s occupying your thoughts today?
Nic: Always my to-do list. I’m such a lover of lists, and I’m that person that adds completed tasks to my list just so I can tick them off. And now, I CAN TICK THIS OFF!
Rachel: That new year drive and passion coupled with the importance of avoiding overwhelm and burnout. So, rather than setting off with a huge grand plan and piling on the pressure, I’m focusing on setting a series of smaller intentions for the new year that will enhance all areas of life, from work and personal, to mindset.
Such a helpful tip for this time of year, thank you both. What a great read! Make sure you follow Nic and Rachel on Instagram. The next In Good Company event in February has sold out but follow to be the first to know when details of the next one are released!
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