Like all start-ups, when 38-year old Kate Crawford from East Yorkshire founded a specialist writing agency, she had no way of knowing what her first year in business would bring.
Building on 18 years’ experience of marketing communications, she realised that writing was the aspect she’d always thrived on. And, to do more of it, she decided to leave her role as the Marketing Director of a York based design agency.
“Leaving behind a great team and a good salary was a scary move,” says Kate. “But some personal circumstances at the end of 2016 made me realise that life’s precious and I knew I had to try.”
She left the design agency at the end of January 2017 and, by March, had set up Larry & Harry Ltd, naming the business as an affectionate, semi-anonymous nod to her two sons – Laurence and Henry, then aged just 6 and 2.
Among Kate’s first contracts was a significant bid editing project for Jacobs UK in Leeds - one of the world’s largest civil engineering companies - and Larry & Harry has gone from strength to strength ever since.
“It’s been a crazy year trying to juggle everything that goes with working on and in my own business, as well as trying to be a good mum and to make time for myself too, but, with support and patience from both my husband, James and my fantastic business mentor, Gary King, the hard work’s paying off.”
Sensibly, Kate has built a carefully selected network of trusted partners including other writers, graphic designers, web developers and film production companies. This means she can scale the business flexibly to meet varying demand and can handle a broader range of briefs.
“It’s only as I’ve paused to reflect on the fact that my business will soon be a year old that I’ve realised just how far it’s come,” Kate adds. “I now have clients handing me briefs as diverse as writing for teenagers about sexual consent to a short documentary style script for John Lewis staff about how the carpets they sell are made.”
Working directly with businesses and through agencies, Kate has delivered an impressive range of literature, web content and film scripts for the likes of Sumo (a global agricultural machinery company), the University of York and Leeds City Council. But is she in danger of becoming too generalist?
“Absolutely not!” she insists. “Writing is the specialism. To specialise further by only writing scripts or only writing website content or by writing only for certain sectors is certainly possible, and can be extremely lucrative, but being so niche can restrict the market substantially, making it quite a risky strategy.”
“I specialise in using words to help my clients get their message across to their target audience effectively. When I see that working - a campaign succeeding - that’s when I get my kicks!”
As well as the upcoming first year anniversary, Kate is also celebrating signing on the dotted line for newly refurbished office facilities in Beverley and having just had her Chartered Institute of Marketing membership upgraded to Fellow level. It seems good things really do come in threes.
At just shy of a year old, it may still be early days for Larry & Harry but all the signs are good. It’s certainly proof that a specialist copywriting business is just as capable of thriving in rural East Yorkshire as in the bright lights of the big cities.