In her latest column, Waltham Forest Business Network’s Jo Sealy meets the creative duo helping others discover their identity
After 20 years each working in top London design agencies, two Waltham Forest designers are celebrating the eighth year of setting up their own business.
Elbow Creative was founded in 2010 by Julian Van Loxton and Craig Bowman. The company helps organisations with their brand communications, which may mean helping to devise a brand identity, refine an existing one, or help to communicate it either online or via traditional printed means.
“It came to a point where we wanted to take full control of our creative work and set our own agenda,” explains Julian. “Over the years we have built a broad client base which ranges from the NHS to finance and fashion.
“However, we have a strong focus on enterprise, charity, and not-for-profit organisations. We’ve been fortunate to have long-standing clients, for example Teach First from the start and Healthwatch since its inception.”
The Elbow Creative team has also managed to help ‘cash poor’ organisations with their brand communications, often pro bono, and has worked with several local Community Interest Companies.
Says Craig: “From the start we agreed that we wanted to help small organisations in business or the third sector; we consciously made the price point accessible for these groups.”
The team started with limited funds, a loft space, a bank account, and a name. They’re both particularly proud of the fact that they have never needed to borrow money to fuel the business and it’s been a positive decision to stay small. One of their biggest challenges so far has been to stay in Waltham Forest.
Julian says: “Starting the business during an economic downturn, making it to eight years in our own E17 studio and working with great clients, has been a great achievement for us both. However certainly one of our biggest challenges has been workspace and to keep trading in E17.”
“It’s great to see Waltham Forest Council now taking a lead on business development within the borough with a strategy; we’d really like to see a much better choice for business space.”
Julian and Craig are looking ahead to the next phase of the successful creative business and aiming to move into new local premises this summer. They have some wise words for would-be entrepreneurs: “Be brave – making the decision to leave permanent employment took two years and looking back we should have done it ten years earlier!”
For more information about Elbow Creative:
Call 020 8123 9566
Do you know a great small business in Waltham Forest with a story to tell?