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By Fi or Becs, Oct 12 2017 03:52PM


<Written by Fi>


When I first started working as a freelance designer (instead of being an in-house product designer) I found that every working day of wasn't full of paid design jobs.


Rather than sit and 'twiddle my thumbs' (like my Dad used to tell me to do when I was a kid) I filled my time faffing around on my laptop. That was when my series of children's picture books called Once-Upon-a-Slime were born... and also when I started illustrating prints of local Halifax buildings and landmarks.


Above: Wainhouse Tower in Halifax
Above: Wainhouse Tower in Halifax

I only worked on a select few (mainly buildings that I can see from my house!) but found it cathartic to sit and illustrate such amazing old structures.


With a nudge from a few lovely friends and clients I have finally I managed to get my prints finished and uploaded onto our website!



Above: Savile Park Water Fountain, Halifax
Above: Savile Park Water Fountain, Halifax

Alongside my Savile Park illustrations I have also been asked to create bespoke line drawings of buildings for websites and personalised presents... which were so lovely to do!



The amazing Mike from Print Bureau is also printing a collection of them for me, ready for Christmas presents.


Even if no one ever buys one - they make me happy! I guess to me it's like sitting and knitting / reading a book in the evening (yup, I'm that rock n' roll).




By Fi or Becs, Sep 26 2017 03:21PM


<Written by Becs>


Ahh The Apprentice is back next week! Hoorah for a shiny new batch of candidates in freshly bought suits, Lord Sugar's classic expressions in THE BOARDROOM (the room of dooooom!) and being able to watch this year without hiding behind a cushion and dying inside.


Whether you're an Apprentice groupie or you simply HATE the show, The Apprentice is known as the programme that people love to hate. It is sculpted (trust me - I’ve seen how they do it) to make viewers squirm, the tasks appear straightforward yet the candidates defy logic (hmmm I wonder why?) and we all sit on our sofas eating Dorritos shouting "WHAT THE HELL ARE THEY DOING?!" every time they deliver an excruciatingly bad pitch to a 'well known supermarket'.



Twelve months after my own adventure into the crazy land of The Apprentice I am still fascinated by the love-hate relationship that people seem to have with the show.


I've genuinely had strangers recognise me from the other side of the street and dodge through MOVING traffic to tell me how much they hate the programme... before excitedly requesting a selfie. People have adamantly denied watching the 2016 series... before telling me in detail exactly what I did wrong in each episode (eh?) and a man once heckled me on a train by shouting "EY LOVE - YOU'RE FIRED!.... WHAT A LOAD OF SHIT" before politely requesting that I record a video for his daughter because she loved me on the show.


Strangely this love-hate viewing relationship with The Apprentice appears to fuel the popularity of the show, which has dropped in viewing figures but still pulls in a whopping 6 million people. In truth we love despising the candidates, we enjoy rolling our eyes at the same tasks EVERY year and we like to hate Lord Sugar. We are British and we love to hate things.


For a normal human suddenly entering the powerful machine of The Apprentice last September I was blown away by how many people recognised my face. I expected around 4/10 people to vaguely notice I that was a girl on telly but it was more like an explosion of 9/10 people asking me for selfies, grinning excitedly as I walked by, surreptitiously taking photos of me (UMM I CAN SEE YOU) and wanting to talk to me... all the time... ANYWHERE. Groups of teenagers with Snapchat were the craziest ones.


Although the prolific selfie requests have calmed down now (thank god) they have lately evolved into a bizarre conversation I experience 2 - 3 times a day when strangers declare that they know me and did I used to work at James & Son Solicitors / do my kids go to Harrowmouth Primary School / did I go to a Pacha after-party last month in Ibiza / am I a presenter on CBeebies.



Notwithstanding my power to befuddle people with my recognisable face, The Apprentice experience has been absolutely amazing for our little business Fi & Becs. Imagine a HUGE FREE ADVERT for your tiny little business on prime time television. Although I was essentially useless on the programme (cringe), I didn't come across as aggressive, back-stabbing or horrible to work with (phewf) so we have been inundated with new work. Exciting doors have opened leading to university lecturing, guest speaking and presenting jobs plus new clients have flocked to us in unexpected abundance. Boom!


Having recently met a batch of the new candidates (who are all competent, lovely and successful - do not believe what you see on TV), one of them asked if The Apprentice had changed my life. I hesitated before answering "ummm not really, I'm still a mum, I still work at home drinking too much tea whilst chatting to my sister... we're incredibly busy and I get to do some fun radio and filming stuff but otherwise... my life is exactly the same."


The Apprentice is an absolutely awesome experience... if you know exactly what you want to get out of it.


Some candidates may want fame (both Jessica and Karthik from my batch impressively went on Celebrity Big Brother!), but I wanted a huge chunk of free PR for my business. Considering our website got 13,000 hits on the week I was fired, my LinkedIn connections went bananas and we now have over 200 clients I'd say my small mission was achieved. It was also pretty cool when Lord Sugar tweeted about the copywriting work we did for Alana's winning business Ridiculously Rich! (Alana is also absolutely lovely by the way - you definitely don't need to be a twat to win The Apprentice.)

Alongside our Fi & Becs business stuff, the last 12 months have also been super fun for me as a human. I've lectured at six universities (plus becoming a regular lecturer at The University of Liverpool), become a frequent panellist on BBC Radio Manchester, adored being a Business Angel for three school enterprise projects, written columns for a local paper and recently presented for a series of exciting business films that are launching at The Business Show this November in London. Yay!


Soooo, this year I'm looking forward to watching the brave new candidates experience the public's love-hate relationship with The Apprentice. I can't wait to see them running around in London completing inane tasks set in impossible timescales by the production team. I'm grateful that I won't have to watch this series from behind a cushion but I have no doubt that I'll still be cringing and writhing in sympathy as I see the poor things set up to fail... repeatedly.


Whilst balancing a plate of Doritos on my ever-growing bump (I'm 5 months pregnant) I shall raise a glass of elderflower spritz (wine replacement) and salute the excellent machine of The Apprentice which made our last 12 months exciting, adventurous and (thankfully) successful.


The Apprentice 2017 starts on Wednesday the 4th October on BBC One. Make sure you also watch You're Fired on BBC Two afterwards as that's the BEST BIT where you get to see what the candidates are like in real life!




By Fi or Becs, Sep 15 2017 08:27AM

Ooooh what an exciting Friday... it's time to launch our brand new Fi & Becs video! If you've ever wondered what on earth we actually do... or whether Becs is really 'like a bouncing puppy' (as she described herself on The Apprentice last year) then have a watch...


We realised that it had been over 18 months since we filmed our last client testimonials so we decided to do a shiny new video... and jump in front of the camera ourselves more this time!


Hoooray - we have such wonderful clients!


A MASSIVE thank you to Zoe from Hello Halfpenny and Jem from Bodyb Wellness for letting us invade their working days (and Zoe's super cool jewellery making studio in Halifax!) with cameras and lighting.


It was a brilliantly hectic day running around Manchester, Cheshire and Halifax with the talented chaps from Into Productions (huge credit to them too for turning our inane chatter into something so great!) but it was so much fun to film!


Let us know what you think!



By Fi or Becs, Sep 6 2017 12:47PM

What better way to return to work after the summer holidays than with some photos of a super cool exhibition stand we’ve designed for our client BFF Pet Toys!


We are LOVING this pet toy stand design complete with novelty moustaches, a branded selfie frame, cardboard cubes and promo caps speedily manufactured over in China by our client Jack Beanie. It’s purrrrr-fect (hehe).



We even organised some lovely branded lollies made by Willow and Boo who we met years ago when we were finalists together for the National Mumpreneur awards!


In truth, anything that involves animals, selfies and amusing moustaches / Mountie hats on sticks is clearly going to delight us.


OMG the pet selfies!


Some of you might remember the cat and dog selfie photos we requested AGES ago on our Facebook page - the photos have finally been chosen and used on real pet toys in the USA and Canada!



If you want to get involved in fun projects like this (and get your pet selfie on packaging all over America and Canada) then make sure you like our page on Facebook!



By Fi or Becs, Aug 6 2017 08:59PM

Ah the summer holidays - an ideal time for playing, pottering around and having adventures.


Like many other parents this month, we're spending lots of time with our small humans trying to fill rainy days (well it is the North England), provide non-mind-numbing entertainment and generally make our children exhausted for bed time. So... when our lovely client More-2-Explore asked Becs to try out their award-winning Adventure Belt with her four year old Ollie she was delighted to have a useful yet child-friendly task.


We've wanted to try one of the super-clever Adventure Belts ever since we worked on the branding, illustration and packaging design - it's like the next generation of kiddie reigns!


Designed to give parents hands-free peace of mind (it attaches around your own waist) the Adventure Belt is great for keeping children safe when you're out and about. It's also got a super-cute pouch for kids to pop their bits and pieces whilst out on adventures... obviously highly important when you are four years old and you have important dinosaurs to carry around.


Armed with the Adventure Belt and an iphone Becs and Ollie braved the dodgey weather this week to head down to Anderton Boat Lift and make a video of their Adventure Belt exploits. They managed to cleverly avoid the nettles, have a picnic whilst the rain stopped and Ollie used his pocket money (kept safely in the Adventure Belt of course) to buy some cinoculars (binoculars).


Watch the video:


We'd definitely recommend the Adventure Belt! It was really fun to use and Ollie now wants to wear the belt all the time so he can take important stuff on days out.


You can find out more on their website: www.more-2-explore.com



By Fi or Becs, Jul 14 2017 09:56AM

When we launched our Quick Logo Lab idea back in February we honestly never expected that it would be so popular. We have sold loads of logos in the last few months and it's been super exciting to see them turn from ideas into real business brands with their own personality and character.


So... we thought it was about time to give our Quick Logo Lab a fresh batch of stock. Just in case anyone out there was looking for something new, exciting and logo shaped...


Some of our new logo designs:

We now have 63 logos available for start-ups or for businesses that need a branding refresh! We've also added the option of a £100 logo for people out there who love simplicity.


Here are some of the brands from our Logo Lab in action:



Our Quick Logo Lab is our quick pit stop for people who need a logo INSTANTLY (aka within 48 hours).


Find out more and take a peek look through our new designs on our lovely Logo Lab...



By Fi or Becs, Jul 3 2017 01:38PM

We did it last year... and we're doing it again... our summer shut-down is a-coming!



Here they come - the summer holidays are looming upon us with a speediness akin to a swift footed wolf. In other words… we’re about to start our SUMMER HOLIDAY SHUT-DOWN!


Apart from some ongoing projects we already have booked in, we won’t be at our laptops much from the 31st July to the 4th September whilst our kids are off school.


If any of you need us during August just pop an email over to fi@fiandbecs.com or becs@fiandbecs.com and we will get back to you as soon as we can.


If you need anything doing super quickly beforehand just let us know!



By Fi or Becs, Jun 28 2017 02:00PM

There aren't many things we find more exciting (no, really... we're very dull people) than seeing our work when it's being used in reality. Yes, in real life... in the REAL WORLD, in real shops being bought by real people.


So... this month we have been particularly giddy to find children's hat designs by Fi in Mothercare stores! Woo hoo!


Hat-tastic. Here's one of them:


We have been working with our client JackBeanie, a hat manufacturer based in Nantong, China for over two years now, so finally finding their products in Mothercare was super cool.


Fi has worked with JackBeanie to design and develop ranges of hats for companies such as Mothercare, New Era and other worldwide brands. We've also been over to China a couple of times to spend time with the team at Jack Beanie and meet with Mothercare in Shanghai - visiting them is mega!


Here are the offical product photos from the Mothercare website (how cute is the cat hat!?):


Obviously the second that Becs heard the hats were in stock at Mothercare she scampered down to her closest store to hunt for them... and she found them!


Please find below a photo of Becs looking like a complete tool in one of our hat designs below. We think you'll agree that her son Ollie wears Fi's hat designs with much more style than Becs.


Splendid hey!



By Fi or Becs, Jun 27 2017 02:00PM

We are proud to be a family business (obvs) and we're also proud to work with loads of family businesses, so when Becs was asked to speak at the Greater Manchester Family Business Event this July we were chuffed about it.


Alongside chattering to people all about Fi & Becs (and The Apprentice) at the event, Becs was also interviewed by Paul Andrews founder of Family Business United, a global family business community and an invaluable source of insight into the sector.


You can read the full interview here, but we've also popped some of our favourite bits below:


Rebecca Jeffery is full of life, energy and passion for what she does as she shares her insight into her life in business with her sister Fi which they set up over three years ago, aptly named Fi and Becs Design and Marketing.


Life for Becs began in the corporate world in the worlds of funerals and telecommunications. As she explains, "I loved what I did and had a real passion for the marketing side of things which was great. I worked long hours and loved what I did and for me it was like a childhood dream fulfilled as I loved writing as a child and dreamt of becoming an author so the world of marketing and copywriting is probably as close as I could get. I do feel very fortunate to have had the roles that I had!"


Much has been written over the years about siblings starting out in business together but Fi and Becs are certainly bucking any negative trends. "It took about six months of working together to set the parameters and framework for the way we work today," continues Becs, adding "After six months we really respected each other and we are wired the same way too which really helps and in meetings it is like we can read each others minds - we certainly know what the other is going to say even before they have said it!"


Fi and Becs both have young children - Becs has Olly who is now 4 and Fi has two children under the age of 9. "Family is integral to who we both are and has been right from the start," continues Becs. "Our business is built around us meeting the needs of our clients whilst being Mums too. We make no attempt to hide from our parental roles and embrace being Mums, flexibly working to get things done and our clients all know that we work later but are not around much from 3-7pm and that is OK!"


Ah, some of Becs' comments even made Fi feel all emotional - what a softie.



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