In the first in a series of blogs, our Founder and Creative Director, David Huskison, tells us about his journey from agency freelancing to agency founder.
If anyone asks me ‘When did you decide to start your own agency?’, my honest answer would have to be… I didn’t!
Back in 2016, after years of contemplating going alone, I finally decided the time was right for me to venture out of my creative agency comfort zone and try something different. The original idea behind DWH was to be the trading name for my new career in the world of freelancing. So imagine my surprise when my first meeting was not at an agency, but for an internal comms piece for my first client!
While working on this piece, I was introduced to my first agency gig and I soon found myself surrounded by the familiar settings of agency life. This was a good way to start establishing myself as a freelance designer. It was also a good opportunity to start experimenting with taking on work outside my comfort zone.
Marketing in the making
I hadn’t been freelancing long when Global Health and Beauty (another one of my new clients) enquired about some social media marketing. This was when Jonathon Bright came on board. Having met while I was still working in my first job (which I held on to for 13 years!), we had stayed in touch and have been friends for almost a decade. This made it easy for us to work together on this project.
The project lasted for six months and during that time we generated some great results for the client. At the time, we had no idea how important this marketing experiment was going to become.
Our first pitch
In early 2017, Jonathon spotted an opportunity to pitch for a new website project for a local digital recruitment firm. Upon submitting our proposal, I found myself in my first project pitch with Sheba Karamat at Opilio Recruitment. I had done my research and went in with a bold suggestion of not only a new website, but whole a brand refresh.
They must have liked what they heard as before long I found myself working at their offices for four solid weeks working on the project, which had evolved to include brochures, email templates, business cards and social media graphics. I ended up rolling out a whole new look and feel for the entire organisation, which included their executive search arm.
Opening the door
Around the time the Opilio project was finishing, I was approached by one of my old agency clients to create a new website for their catering business, Benjamin Lauren, based in Cheshire. This would end up as just the start of a long client relationship that quickly expanded from a design-and-build job through to content creation and social media marketing.
Little did we know that this would get our foot in the door at Abbeywood Estate. In 2018 we were approached to handle Abbeywood’s social media marketing, which would soon expand in to a new wedding brochure, a new website, content population and a PPC marketing campaign!
The shift in the tide
With the additional work for Abbeywood on top of the agency work I had on already (I now had three agencies on regular retainers), I found myself in the position where I needed additional support. Enter James Cadby.
He is a Warwick-based freelance designer who I was acquainted with through Jonathon. He started working with us on the Abbeywood project initially (including producing some stunning watercolours), but very quickly, with the acquisition of my next client, he became an essential part of what DWH was becoming.
In March 2018, I was contacted by Sheba, who had now left Opilio. She wanted to talk to me about a new venture. We discussed the name, the brand, the visual language and her long-term growth plans. This conversation was the beginning of Coin Rivet, a new cryptocurrency news website that aims to provide information, analysis, opinion and insight from the world of blockchain.
The brand and website was only the beginning of the journey. From this one project, we are now the preferred agency partner for Coin Rivet and their subsidiaries, as well as for their trading partners Luxon Payments. It quickly became apparent that even with the additional support I had put in place, the sheer amount of work I now had on a regular basis was becoming unsustainable on my own.
As a result, I made the decision in late 2018 to expand the business. DWH had now become an agency!
So far in 2019, we have won five new clients, employed our first full-time member of staff, and expanded our team to include PPC marketing specialists, copywriters and web developers. We are currently talking to more prospective leads and for the first time are actively seeking out new business.
So, to go back to the original question of ‘When did I decide to start my own agency?’ the answer is I didn’t… but then again, if I had, it would probably be a much different agency to what it is today. I would have made a lot of decisions based upon my current skill set. So by not deciding to start an agency, DWH has been allowed to naturally evolve into something that was waaaay outside of my comfort zone!
But that’s the point! DWH stopped being about me a long time ago. It is an idea that a branding agency should be about more than the way something is designed. It’s about more than your marketing. It’s about more than copywriting. More than a website. More than the way you answer the phone, send a tweet or write an email. It’s all of these things and more, all working together to create a brand story.
So what’s next? To carry on doing what I love and love what I’m doing! Even after all these years, it still amazes me that I have made a career out of something that is so much fun!
We help lots of clients achieve their marketing, design, product and branding goals. With years of experience we can offer a full range of creative design and marketing expertise. We've worked for a wide range of clients from start-ups and charities to public sector and FTSE 100 companies.
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About the author
David is the founder of DWH and is involved in all aspects of the design process from the initial creative concept through to final artwork stage.
With over 18 years of experience working with agencies across the Midlands, his role is to provide significant creative injection into client projects. By personally delivering creative concepts, he ensures that client briefs are effectively executed and that the final project is delivered within budget.