LUMS, Greggs, and traffic: we spoke to a local business owner about Lancs
‘I love a chicken bake!’
As part of Boost Lancashire, the Lancashire Forum is a scheme delivered by Lancaster University’s Management School (LUMS), and is designed to help local businesses to grow.
We spoke to Rebecca Hull, Co-Owner and Creative Director of Two Stories, a brand consultancy business based here in Lancaster about the scheme, Lancs, and our university.
What’s Two Stories?
Two Stories is a brand consultancy and design studio. We focus on brand, but how the brand goes through everything. We’re digital – social, media, print, logos, we do everything. Our focus is that the brand is at the heart of it. There’s me and my business partner, Rob Ellis – just the two of us, hence: Two Stories.
What’s Lancashire Forum, and what does Lancaster Uni do within it?
As part of Boost Lancashire, The Lancashire Forum is delivered by Lancaster Uni. The forum’s purpose is to help businesses in Lancashire grow. Working with business leaders, owners and senior decision-makers in organisations to grow their business over a six month program. It does everything! We have a residential, with about 18 different businesses. We work together, share experiences, and do a lot of networking; but also do courses, seminars and lectures to help nail your business model. It’ll definitely help me to grow as a new business owner.
What’s your favourite part of Lancaster?
We’ve got loads of independent food places! GoBurrito, Atkinsons, pizza shops… the food in Lancaster is so much better than where I used to work, there’s loads of variety. We’ve got other great things like the castle, it’s amazing, and when they had the moon exhibition. We’re so lucky to get things like that in Lancaster. There’re loads of good things! It’s such a nice place to live, and it’s getting better!
How much does Lancaster Uni input with the scheme?
The scheme’s delivered by LUMS, and we do everything from strategy development, to leadership, to business modelling. The student consultancy placement at the end is good – a student from the Management School will do a project with us. We don’t know what that’ll be yet, but it could be a business plan or a marketing plan. There’s loads of things in there, and it’s all delivered by the university.
How did you get involved in the scheme?
Well, we already had some funding from Boost Lancashire, which is a great organisation that helps businesses like ours grow – Boost is all about growing businesses. We’ve just done a placement with them where we had a business coach, Paul Aisthorpe, come in and work with us. We did all sorts of different things; where we’re at, setting up, the dynamic between myself and Rob, Boost are great at helping you find other funding. We were given contacts, and applied online, and then someone from the university came to see me – I had to sell myself in the application process to get onto the scheme.
Greggs or Pound Bakery?
Greggs. 100 percent!
Is it important that local businesses engage with universities?
Absolutely. I think we’re so lucky that we’ve got Lancaster Uni. I was at the launch of Lancaster Digital Strategy by Lancaster City Council and it was brought up then how good the university is and the talent there and there are so many opportunities outside of the forum, and you have to engage with them in order to get the most out of it. There are experts in loads of different fields, producing students who are experts in their fields. We want the best people to stay here in Lancaster, not just learn here and then go home.
What advice would you give to any students wanting to start their own business?
Don’t be put off. People think it’s quite glorious being a business owner and there’s loads of stature that comes with it, and that’s great because of the entrepreneurship persona that you get, but on the flip-side it’s so hard. You have to work so hard. You’ll have to push through some challenges that you never thought you’d have to face. As a young business owner that in itself is a challenge, being perceived as a young business owner. You can do anything you want if you put your mind to it. If you’re passionate about something, give it a go and try. Talk to all the people out there that will help startups. There is help, you don’t have to do it on your own!
What’s your favourite Greggs product?
My business partner Rob will laugh at this, I call it the “kids’ pizza” because it honestly tastes like a kids’ pizza – the margherita pizza, I absolutely love it. If I had to pick a grown up answer I’d probably say a chicken bake. I love a chicken bake – not when they’re cold, though!
What’s something you’ve come across since starting a business that you didn’t anticipate?
How hard it is to write about yourself. I’m struggling now I’m a business owner! It’s different when you’re an employee, because it’s not “yours,” but now it’s mine it seems harder to write about! We know what our brand is, and we can talk about it passionately, but writing that down is hard – harder than I ever expected!
What’s your least favourite part of Lancaster?
That one’s hard! Traffic in the morning, probably! In my previous agency we worked 9-5, but now we’ve decided to do 9:30-6, because we miss the traffic and I work better later! The flexible working is great, running your own business is great for that sort of thing.
What sets you apart from other businesses in this area?
There’s loads of us in Lancaster, and some really great studios that have been here for ages. I think we’re new, so that puts us on a different edge already. We’re only six months old, whereas most of the businesses here are six years old! Hopefully it’s good competition, and everyone picks up their game! We’re focusing on the brand side, and that’s different to some of the other agencies around here. We’re passionate about finding the values of our clients and their businesses, getting under their skin and discovering what makes them unique. I think our passion to help our clients and our ambition to create purposeful design work does come through.