Well Made :: Q&A

well made1 well-made6 well made4 Well Made is a design studio based in Liverpool & London. Since rebranding from Mercy over a year ago, the agency has built up a loyal following of clients and fans alike, working with culture and lifestyle brands such as Random House, Field Football Magazine, Young Vic and Red Bull. Aside from their stellar design work, what really makes them stand apart is their brand of transparency – a no bullshit style of explaining ‘how and why’ they do what they do. And we’re not talking ‘About’ pages blurb either. From ‘How we won a cookbook’ to ‘What a failed advertising pitch looks like’, Well Made’s blog & social media acts as an open diary of working in the creative industry, sharing both the good and bad of their experiences. We caught up with Well Made co-founder Gemma Germains, to gain some more golden insight and frank advice. Q) Tell us a bit about Well Made and your role in the company. On our credentials document it says I’m the person who “helps brands find their voice, helping clients present the best possible version of themselves.” I like that. It seems to perfectly sum up a little of what I do. The thing about being a small studio is that we all do a lot of everything, job descriptions don’t really apply. Q) The design industry has changed over recent years. What have been the biggest changes you’ve noted – both good and bad? The best and worst change has been social media. We’ve never had more opportunity to engage with our heros and those elements of the design community we normally wouldn’t be able to reach out to. However, I think social media is also to blame for driving the fantasy that well paid, stimulating and fulfilling creative work is in an abundance. There are too many people presenting too carefully curated a version of their jobs, masking the fact that our jobs, like most jobs are actually a bit boring and frustrating. Q) You have developed an approach to business development that’s more akin to marketing – with your WM blog – and you’re becoming a regular speaker. Why did you opt for such an approach and what have been the benefits? And who do you currently rate in industry for their marketing strategy? Here’s an interesting story. If I send an unsolicited email to someone and my signature says ‘Business Development’ it gets ignored. If my signature says ‘Director’ or ‘Founder’ or ‘Creative Strategy’ I’m far more likely to get a response. We all know when we’re being sold to and nobody likes it.The blog and the talks and the articles, and the huge amount of time we spend talking to people hopefully lays the responsibility for making a decision with them. As far as marketing goes, I like Hort. They do stuff all the time. There’s none of this “great meeting, can’t wait to tell you” bobbins on Twitter. They’re presenting their creativity in as many ways as possible. I wish we were as good at getting our work out as regularly as this. Q) Your blog posts tend to be quite candid in regards to your thoughts on various subjects such as internships. What has been your best / worst outcome from this? When I graduated, there were graduate jobs and they paid real money. My first job was £15 000 a year and I had Fridays off with my child. This was a decade ago and the step backwards has been phenomenal. There is no way I would be working in the creative industries now if I’d graduated in the last 5 years. I hate every kind of internship. The very word implies short term, low paid, barely legal semi employment that prevents young talent from moving ahead and making their own choices because they’re waiting on someone higher up the chain to decide if they like some of the many many goods on offer. There’s no worst bit about my intern moan. I wish I was braver. I wish I had the guts to call out the worst offending studios and agencies. Q) You’re a mum of two, how much do your children influence you and your work? In 2008 I worked full time for a year. I earned a fair bit of money and had a really sexy job title. I was also completely miserable and had £12 a month disposable income. I spent all of my money paying nurseries a lot to pay their staff very little to raise my kids. That year taught me that free time and happiness is more valuable than money and status. If it wasn’t for the boys, I would never have realised that. I’d probably still be on that track now. Q) What piece of advice would you give to young graduates looking to get into creative industry? Don’t believe anyone who tells you it’s permanent lols and glamour and amazing clients. It’s not. It’s project management and spreadsheets and forgotten passwords and chasing invoices. We suck it up, hopefully to work with our friends, occasionally produce something we’re proud of and visit galleries on Tuesday afternoon. Q) What was the last book that you read? Ha! Lady Chatterley’s Lover. It honestly blew my mind. The way DH Lawrence writes about class and marriage and sex is far more progressive than anything I’ve read by a modern writer in a long long time. I aim for a book a week and am always desperate for new recommendations … Q) Finish the following sentence: Starting your own business is… the easiest thing you could imagine. Making it last is the hard bit. Q) What’s next for Well Made? We’re supposed to build the studio into a £1 million business then sell it but the thought gives me chills. I want to work with Joe and Doug for as long as possible. I don’t really care in what format, it’s just the dynamic needs to remain. :: Join Well Made at the LBB Pop-Up School: Shoreditch House Residency – for their How Not to Run an Agency workshop // 1 Oct 1-2pm]]>

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *