Mellor&Scott was 3 years old yesterday, the company was officially formed on the 22nd January 2009 by David Scott and myself (Paul Mellor).
That day seems an age ago now, when I look back over the 3 years with rose tinted spec’s I forget the tough days at the start when nobody I phoned wanted to speak to me and when they did pick up the phone they told me to piss off. Let me tell you we have had to bash down some doors to get people to listen – but that’s what it takes sometimes.
Lets go back to the very start: I had no clue what it took to set up a company, the never ending options was a real eye-opener to how the public sector try to define private business for example Business Link was a complete joke – Lesson 1, learn to do it yourself as you are on your own.
A week later and having read a sizeable chunk of Wiki I knew what I wanted us to be and that we needed a bank account to deposit all the dosh that was obviously going to start rolling in! I opened a business account and we deposited £400, enough for a few months of internet and phone bills. The pressure was certainly on from the start, I had to find our first project in a couple of months or Mellor&Scott would have been out of business before it had even started. Then out of the blue, our first job working with an interior design firm to produce a series of photo realistic visuals of a development they were involved in, we thought we’d hit the jackpot! Little did we know that we wouldn’t find any more paid work for another 2 months – Lesson 2, you’re only as good as you’re last job, we learned it early and hard.
During that first year of trading we started designing collections of sunglasses for a raft of clients in the UK, this was a logical step to make as I had been designing collections in my design job prior to setting up M&S. It involved working with factories overseas (China and South Korea) to engineer our collection, manufacture a batch, ship them over to the UK and the deliver them to the client. Each delivery was a very intricate affair, I felt we were jumping from lily pad to lily pad just to make ends meet. BUT each client was thrilled with the resulting product and they had a strong sales reaction! We learnt to cut out the crap when speaking to a factory overseas about price, timelines and samples, whilst also speaking to the Hong Kong based shipping company and then our own HMRC regarding duty and VAT. Each year we provide a better ‘Full Service’ designing and delivering great product at a fraction of our competitor’s price – Lesson 3, learn to cut through the noise and get straight down to the nub of the issue.
I worked from home for the first 18 months, just me as David was still working full-time before we could support both of us. 18 months, 12 hours-a-day on my own, bashing the phone and emails trying to create more revenue. It was tough as nobody knew who I was nor did they have any cash to spend because we were still in the ‘Credit Crunch’ but I wouldn’t change it for the world. We cut our teeth in those first 18 months making plenty of mistakes and were spun plenty of lines but I knew as long as we delivered great design for the client they would come back. – Lesson 4, it takes a lot of pushing to get the wheels moving.
So after 18 months we made the biggest decision of the company thus far and decided to make the move into a rented office. Our location: in the heart of the square mile about 200m from Bank. We had a number of financial services clients who were all very close to our new office and we estimated we could generate more business with new FS clients due to our proximity. We were right to move and I think we are still the only creative business in the square mile – Lesson 4, make your big decisions count.
Year’s 2 and 3 saw us grow considerably, we had our first born Mellor&Scott’er – James Smith joined as a our first designer and has since proven he is more than just his recently acquired Creative Director title. Jimmy is the best designer in the world and is the perfect accompaniment to David and myself in driving the Mellor&Scott team forward – Lesson 5, only employ the best.
Growth produces it’s own set of issues, the jobs get bigger but so do the stakes. We work everyday to deliver the best creative work for our clients, quality doesn’t happen overnight and every single piece of work goes through me prior to being sent to the client. That sounds very labour intensive but we don’t know what the result of one bad decision could be and therefore myself, David and Jimmy are responsible for the decision making process of the studio. I was sending emails on the morning of my wedding day and worked whilst on Honeymoon. Lesson 6, it’s rarely as glamorous as you might think.
Occasionally we disagree with a supplier or client and fortunately it has happened very very rarely but in year 3 we had our first legal dispute with a supplier. You can see what David wrote about it in a blog a couple of weeks ago. But safe to say it was a David v Goliath scenario, we were David being bullied by Goliath who happened to be one of the biggest companies in the world. We defended our position, finally settling out of court about 2 months prior to the scheduled Court Date – Lesson 7, don’t be afraid of going to court if you truly believe you’re in the right.
Mellor&Scott took it’s first ever official break this Christmas, we shut down for about 10 days Christmas to New Year and it was wonderful, although it took 3 years to have a break at Christmas we will always shut down every Christmas from now on. Lesson 8 – occasionally you have to re-charge those batteries!
I’m immensely proud of what we have achieved over the 3 years, I rarely look back preferring to look forward and plan how we grow from where we are to where we want to be on our 6th birthday and beyond. We have experienced every emotion, a cliché to mention would be a rollercoaster, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
We have certainly not ‘made it’ yet, we are not the ‘finished article’, like all companies we still make mistakes but as long as we remember what has got us this far and we continue to develop those values then I see an even brighter future for Mellor&Scott – Creativity Is King, Hard Work and Investing in Talent.
Here’s to the next 3 years. Paul