Friday, 14 September 2012

Sara Drawwater - From Zambia to Wolverhampton and back

So what does a girl do when she gets a 1st Class degree in Graphic Communication and can’t land her dream job? She stops chasing the dream, goes it alone and builds an empire. Well, sort of!

I left the University of Wolverhampton in the Summer of 2005. I really believed my hard earned 1st class degree was my golden ticket. Having survived a three year long distance relationship, I chose love. I moved back to Peterborough. Not to London as I had once planned. Peterborough is not known for being cutting edge, cultured or creative!

For what it’s worth, I had two Peterborough based jobs before I stood on my own two feet and they taught me a lot. I worked as a graphic designer in a marketing company that wanted to set up a creative department. By the time I started the job, the Creative Director brought in to start the department had left. It was just little me. Sink or swim time! When the company went bust I left just in time and landed a job in a publishing house. Design one magazine a week was the brief. Soon I was being challenged to get involved in developing new products and management. A clash of ethics left me no choice but to leave. That’s how it works in my world anyway.

So I started freelancing. I got involved in network marketing and learnt about residual income, scalable businesses and leading successful teams. I left networking marketing behind but I took everything I learnt from it with me.

By 2009 I was working with my brother, Luke Brown, and my parents Joseph and Julia Brown. Luke graduated with a 2.1 in Interactive Media from Portsmouth University.  Since then Luke has built the Something Beckons Content Management System to suit the specific needs of our company and our customers. He has also spearheaded our approach to web design and development.  Interestingly, as well as being techy, he is also an excellent graphic designer – this has proved incredibly valuable.

Today I wear many hats for Something Beckons. I am involved in sales and marketing, project management and delivery, social media training, product/service research and development, company management and development… From 6am to 11pm my week days are packed to the hilt. I have one full day off a week. I spend Sunday’s blogging and doing lots of marketing related work.

Whilst Luke and I are currently Peterborough based, my parents spend most of their time in Zambia leading local office (currently a team of six). This website is the best online resource for products and services in Zambia. It is a prototype business profiling website and promotional package we designed and continue to develop specifically for the African market.

We have a keen interest in Africa. Joseph, our Dad is Zambian. We were born there and only moved to England in 1999. While the West is struggling, many African countries are growing economically. There is increasing demand for quality online content as Africans skip the PC and access the internet through their mobile phones. There is a hunger for information and choice. We give many businesses their first online presence affordably. For those with a website, our site generates traffic to their site. For both, we provide free web based marketing throughout the year (we promote their events, special offers, news and expertise). We do this through social media channels like Twitter and Facebook, alongside other communication tools like email marketing, our blog and online magazine.

We are not finished but have made a great start! Our current projects include making more interactive, developing the site further and rebranding it in time for our launch into one or two other African countries (to start with).

Current and ex students my message to you is that building your own business is a lot harder that starting from the bottom as the faceless junior. Choose the junior designer option for simplicity! The road I chose is risky, very scary, demands a lot of sacrifice and makes you very broke. But if you want to shape your own future, expect an unlimited income and want freedom, then this is the way to do it.

My thanks go to my tutors at the University of Wolverhampton who made me believe I was really good at my chosen field.

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