“I’ve yet to meet a business that doesn’t have a great story to tell…”
Next up in the Creative Business series is Lidia Rumley of The Brand Storyteller. In her own words, Lidia works with ‘creative and entrepreneurial businesses to define and articulate their brand stories’. Messaging is such an important part of building a meaningful and sustainable brand. It’s what holds everything together and connects the dots between you, your brand, and your audience.
I first met Lidia last year, through a small local group for female, creative entrepreneurs – set up by myself and Elisabeth Booth (aka The Giftsmith). We’ve only met as a group twice (I’m looking forward to catching up again once we’re allowed!), but it was clear to see Lidia’s passion for working with clients and really getting underneath, behind, and to the core of their stories.
Without further ado, let’s delve in and discover a glimpse into Lidia’s own story…
What does creativity mean to you?
Creativity for me is all about getting away from the day-to-day. It’s about being able to rest your thoughts and engage your mind in a different and deeper way. In my early life, that started with reading – I’ve always been obsessed by the power of a story to transport you to another, more interesting place. But today it’s more than that – it’s about all the different ways you can add interest to your work and your life, from learning new skills to getting away from it all.
Have you always been creative?
I think so. Right back from childhood, I was drawn to more creative subjects at school from languages to arts. And I think that’s gone on to be the thread throughout my career too as storytelling is all about finding creative ways to represent people and their stories.
What first got you interested in your field?
My background is in PR – I spent almost 20 years in the corporate world running PR and communication teams. When I first went it alone back in 2013, I found that a lot of businesses were coming to me for PR, but many didn’t know the story they needed to tell. They simply wanted to be ‘put on the map’. As a result, I decided to move away from the media relations part of my role and focus specifically on the creation of stories, to help businesses get ‘PR-ready’.
Why did you decide to start your own business?
After a long career spent working for major players in the entertainment world, it was obvious that big companies with big budgets found it easy to get seen and heard. But it didn’t feel right that smaller businesses who often did equally innovative and ground-breaking work found it hard to get a look-in, simply because they had less money to spend. I wanted to do something to help those kinds of foward-thinking businesses find their way into the spotlight. I also had a young family when I left the corporate world and wanted to create a new and more flexible way of working for myself.
What is your favourite thing about your work?
It never gets boring! I love spending time with my clients and listening to their stories. I’ve yet to meet a business that doesn’t have a great story to tell and I feel priveleged when my clients choose me to be the person that helps them put theirs into the right words. It’s such a great feeling when I hear my clients tell me that the story we’ve worked together to create is very ‘them’ because that’s when I know they will be able to embody it and take their businesses onto bigger and better things.
What is a ‘reality’ of your work that other people don’t realise?
It’s time consuming! When I work with clients, I don’t just create the mission and vision statements, I do a lot of behind the scenes work to develop the meaning and personality behind the brand. These are the things that act as proof points for my clients to use with their own customers so they can communicate credibly and confidently about their businesses.
How do you handle creative ‘blocks’ in work?
I’m a big scribbler. I find it really useful to scribble down anything I can think of relating to what I’m working on and then usually it starts to take shape. Rather than allowing myself to get too stuck on any one thing, I move ahead and work on elements that are coming more easily to me and then double back to any sticking points. It can also be helpful to just step away for a short time and clear my mind with a walk or something completely unrelated and then I find my flow is usually restored on my return.
Do you have any other creative interests?
I love to bake! That doesn’t by any means imply that I’m good at it, but I do enjoy it. Baking is definitely my go-to activity for relaxation. Of course, it’s also the thing that gets hijacked by the kids a lot on weekends, but it’s still good fun. I do go to baking classes at the fabulous Victoria’s Kitchen in Woking a couple of times of a year – it’s such a brilliant place to learn new skills. The biggest downside is having too much temptation in the house!
What one thing would you say to someone dreaming of starting their own creative business?
If you can find a way to go for it, then go for it. Starting and running a business isn’t easy so it’s important to do your research and test the market before committing yourself. But if you are clear about your niche and can see a clear need in the market, then it’s the most rewarding work you’ll ever do.
So many of the inspiring women in this series have answered ‘time’ as a reality of their work other people don’t realise (it’s what I would answer as well!). Whether making a wedding bouquet or teasing out a brand story, it takes time to create something special. It’s why it’s so important to do what brings you joy (and regularly check your business is fulfilling you), because if your service or product takes time to create, don’t you want it to be something you love? It’s why it’s also important to get your messaging right, so you attract the right clients who value your time. Do you like what I did there – segueing back round to Lidia’s role as The Brand Storyteller?
It’s now time for Lidia’s self-portrait. Although, she admits she broke the rules (which made me chuckle!): “OK, I cheated here. My 10 year old son came in while I was writing this interview and wanted to know all about what I was doing. When I told him, he asked if he could do my portrait. Quite frankly he did a far better job than I could have done and captured me at my happiest – with my nose in a book!”
P.S. Don’t forget to sign up to my email list to receive the ‘Creative Business Edit’ which includes further insight from the Creative Business features, as well as guest experts giving tips on the other side of creative business.