I’ve worked in marketing, PR and publishing most of my life. When you get to my age (57), I’m guessing you’ve had quite a few jobs and I’m no exception. I wasn’t the brightest star in the sky when I left school. I had one O Level to my name (English language) and a smattering of CSE grades. I’ll be honest, school never really did it for me. I was a bit of a tomboy and was more interested in life outside – climbing trees, scrapping and bombing around on my Chopper bike.
I went to Secretarial College and got all of the relevant qualifications there and this stood me in good stead for my eventual career path.
I’ve never been shy of working hard. From the age of fourteen, I had several jobs. Sometimes those jobs overlapped. I worked in a fish and chip bar on Barry Island as a food prep and washer upper in a Social Club, a secretary in an Estate Agents and then later a Conveyancing PA to a partner in a solicitors office.
I then began working in the local Council and worked my way up from an admin assistant in the Personnel Department, to a typist in a typing pool in the Planning Department, to a Press Officer in the Chief Executive’s Department, a secretary to the Director of Leisure and Amenities and then a Marketing and Special Events Officer in the same department. I went from a grade II to a Senior Officer level. Not bad for a girl with one O Level!
Following a pretty miserable sexual harrassment case in my last job at the Council (I was eventually paid off!), I then started my own public relations consultancy called Spirit. Within a couple of months of starting up, I secured two healthy contracts, one for a women’s charity and the other for acouple of reputable restaurants with rooms in the Wye Valley. Between the PR work and the design and marketing work, one of the restaurant’s reputation grew to such an extent that it was awarded a Michelin Star. The other restaurant was later sold to media mogul, Chris Evans.
Mark and I were then out with friends one night and they said “There is no lifestyle magazine for the Vale, there’s one for the Cotswolds, you two have the skills to start one for the Vale.” Over a couple of glasses (okay bottles!) of wine back in spring 2007, we devised our plan to launch in three months with our first publication, Vale Life. Within a year, City Life Cardiff followed. Then Valleys Life, then West Life and Wye Life and InBusiness magazine. All of these still operate online.
The business grew and we eventually employed eleven members of staff and had offices in Cowbridge. However, we had, in our opinion, become busy fools – we were working for everyone else’s benefit and seeing little return for our efforts. We loved our business but needed to make it work for us so we spent twelve months bringing the business back into line.
We’re so fortunate we did. Eighteen months later, Covid happens but we are a lean and mean operation so have been able to weather the storm. With lockdown, we are now having to re-evaluate our business again – only time will tell where this situation will lead us all.
During lockdown, we’ve kept ourselves busy and have designed and worked on two new websites and corresponding social media – www.travellifemag.co.uk and www.life-styled.co.uk. Travel Life is (not surprisingly) a travel based website featuring gorgeous destinations in the UK, Europe and further afield. Life-styled is my take on fashion, beauty, health, food and travel. Mark and I have being really enjoying writing features for ourselves and those in the tourism, fashion, health, beauty and food industries and we hope you like reading them too. It’s kept us occupied for the time being.