Norfolk Network stories

Blog Member Stories

We made it

Emily West
Made Agency

Emily West reflects on exciting challenges as the Business Development Manager at made design agency.

To cut a familiar story short, I needed a new challenge; a fresh start; a job that made me feel both valued and motivated. For four years I had travelled the world selling artwork on cruise ships, going on to manage a gallery in the Royal Arcade for nearly two, but I had reached the top of my game. I was also working all the hours under the sun and just not seeing an appropriate reward for it. I needed to find a company that ‘gave back’ what I put in, and I didn’t necessarily mean with a higher wage.

I interviewed for Business Development Manager at a design agency called made. I had a good feeling about the place. The hours still seemed long but the team was diverse, friendly, intelligent and their business ethics and values impressed me. There was obviously room to grow and, even after pressing for negatives, the staff were fiercely loyal. It spoke volumes; I would do my very best to fit in here.

Like every great story however, along came the setback; before I’d even started, an email came round noting a change of business structure and directorship. Peter and Lucy Moore-Fuller who started the company in their back-bedroom years previously and who had grown the business to the point it was regularly working with partners such as the NHS, UEA and UNESCO, were taking a back seat to focus on other ventures. I was gutted, and scared. I’d handed my resignation in to a job that I knew and was really good at only to find everything I thought I knew about my new company was about to change…

Luckily, I’ve always been a big fan of the saying “If it scares you, it’s probably worth doing”. Hiring a moped in Thailand and ‘falling off’ on the second day of my summer holiday showed I should probably take these quotes with a pinch of salt but it’s true; when a person is outside of their comfort zone they grow and they learn. Thankfully, I can honestly say joining made was terrifying at first but ultimately one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Mark Merrywest stepped up from technical director to CEO. Not only has he spent the majority of his career in education and business, he is currently studying an MBA at the UEA; a scholarship he was awarded through the wonderful and supportive Norfolk Network; so it is no wonder that he came in and immediately asked questions…

Were we proud of our work? What would we change? Who are we as a company? Who do we want to be?

He made everyone aware that it is not ‘his’ company, but ‘our’ company. It was quite clear from day one that Mark’s focus was on ‘employee involvement’, so much so in fact that he lulled me into a full sense of security… On my first ever day in the made studio, I apparently told him (my new boss) that the website wasn’t as ‘engaging’ as it could be and the office was a bit of a mess! Now, I remember being far more tactful than that and of course all my comments were coming from a constructive viewpoint, but nonetheless he agreed and announced we were rebranding.

Scary? Yes. Worth doing? Heck yes.

Emily West, Business Development Manager, made agency.

The idea was to not to start again, but to improve, evolve and develop. It was a chance to build a ‘new’ brand that had a little bit of everyone within it. Mark made us really think about what we as a company wanted to be. He made us look around and point out what could be improved. He ordered an office worth of new furniture, a new TV (everyone has started dressing much nicer for Skype calls now they can see themselves on the big screen), we even mucked in and repainted the office to replace the red walls with cool, earthy tones that perfectly echoed our new logo, website and brand image.

We all know it doesn’t take long to file those papers or mop up that tea, but sometimes a lack of pride, or tiredness, or simple laziness prevents it from happening – by giving us responsibility for our environment and creating something we can all be proud of, the office is neater, more stylish and productive and, as such, is a place we all want to be.

Rebranding was also a chance to open up our channels of work; to explore different sectors and create new and exciting designs for housing brochures, architect’s projects, restaurant menus and beautiful marketing for top hotels. This is where I came in! It’s something made had never done before, instead focussing efforts on environmental and educational sectors and being recommended from existing clients. Our work has become a whole lot more varied and so have our days!

Now, if like me you are a lover of lifestyle blogs and interior magazines, then you might be thinking “how very Scandinavian!?”. If so, you won’t be surprised to hear that the beginning of this journey started with the word ‘Lagom’ casually written on the studio wall one morning. This one little word has been at the very heart of every decision we have made. It is more than a word; it is a behavior, a mind set, a framework for the ‘new made’, one that deserves it’s very own article…

What was a terrifying and unknown situation to walk into has ripened into one of the best and most fruitful of journeys, one that has brought the company so much closer together. made has evolved. It has emerged from the solid and commendable foundations that had been passionately laid and it has become a modern, engaging and exciting team of contemporary thinkers. It is not just an office, it’s a productive and creative hive of happy and healthy workers who want to inspire and excite our clients and their clients. It has ‘given back’ to us all.