We recently got into UK Glamour magazine. Here’s the scribe that they featured…
Check out the stories that got us there…
My story begins when I finished university in 2004; I graduated from Falmouth with a First in Graphic Design and was ready to set the design world on fire! I began work as a designer at a prestigious company in Bristol; our clients were highly influential and featured well known toy manufacturers and film companies. The job was everything I had wanted. I was working with significant clients and my design work was being viewed by millions of people across the world. The work load was intense but manageable and more importantly, enjoyable.
However, before long the influential clients began changing the parameters of their contracts, asking that the design content be increased but for the same, or in some cases, reduced costs and timescales. Keen to keep such clients, the team met these requests and the workload escalated. Designs that would have been allocated 3-4 days now needed to be completed in 3-4 hours. With the pressure on, staying late was the only option, and as the team started to work weekends I found it hard to let down friends and family for the sake of my career. Although I’m not afraid of hard work, this wasn’t what I had signed up to and my relationship with my childhood sweetheart, Ben, was already starting to suffer. Even though I was unwilling to sacrifice all of my social time to benefit the company, my work was not going unnoticed. Promotions were on the horizon and despite the pressure I was enjoying the work.
At this time I continued to work on the packaging for high profile children’s toys. Although this was a great opportunity, it was definitely bitter sweet. I was helping to produce a product that encouraged girls to dress and behave in a certain way and fuelled children to badger their parents into letting them have the latest and greatest. I continued to complete the work but my moral compass was pulling me in another direction. My views towards my work started to become tainted, and an incident in a toy shop marked the beginning of the end.
Whilst shopping with a friend, her daughter became fixated with a particular toy. However when she was denied this, she quickly became upset. The upset turned to crying, the crying to screaming and the screaming to a full scale tantrum! I stood helpless watching the situation unfold; to my horror I realised the toy in question was one that I had helped market. I realised that I had unwittingly contributed to this situation. My designs had helped ensnare my friends’ daughter, had provoked this response and had resulted in my friend picking up the pieces. I had become part of the corporate monster; I was not an awkward onlooker in the store but part of the problem.
When I returned to work, I knew another promotion was in the offing. Suddenly I could see my career progression before me; it was everything I had wanted, and yet it could not have been further from what I needed. I realised what I needed was my life back, to be able to spend time with Ben, friends and family, but also be part of something that was ultimately doing good and I could feel proud of being a part of. Over the years I’d read a lot of Glamour articles about women who had it all; great job, car, house, processions and gave it all up to pursue careers that gave them a sense of self worth and pride.
Encouraged, I met with an acquaintance; Jon. I had heard he was developing animation software, which empowered the user to be creative and share their message. When he heard of my situation he offered me the job of designer at his company Sparkol; at the time it was just him working on the project, there was no money coming in and no guarantee that the idea would be a success. I considered my options and realised that by leaving my current job I would be leaving my stable salary and my job security. However, Jon’s enthusiasm and commitment was contagious. I accepted his offer and work started slowly with the project being revised on several occasions.
In 2010 we officially launched but subscriptions to the software were low and not sustained. We returned again to the drawing board and drew inspiration from a whiteboard animation video we saw on YouTube. The video used stop-motion-capture style graphics to portray the concept and made a dry subject engaging and dynamic. When we looked into this we realised that the production costs of such videos were more than £30,000 as ideas and concepts were outsourced at huge expense to the customer. Our idea was simple. Empower the user to create this style of animation video for a minimal cost. VideoScribe was born and this had to be our “sink or swim” moment.
With a new idea I was energised and work began quickly on an image library and branding. What started as an app, quickly became a desktop version due to high demand. Subscriptions began to pour in and are continuing to grow at a rate of 200% per month. VideoScribe is now an international brand and is being used across the world in innovative ways on a daily basis. The high demand has seen the team quadruple in size within 6 months, all of whom are passionate and committed to the product. In addition I now have a great work life balance and I’m proud to be a part of a really great venture.
In the early part of 2012 I read a 1 page Glamour article about career truths to ignore. The article featured a short list of career generalisations such as “only men can get to the top” and “I’ve reached the glass ceiling, there’s nowhere else to go”. I was so taken by it that I immediately tore it from the magazine and stuck it to my fridge. I genuinely had no idea how I would overcome even one of these sayings- all I knew is that someday I would be thankful to glamour for changing my life.
When I read the article I was 26, working as a senior nurse in a nursing home for young, disabled adults. I had qualified as a nurse in 2006 amid the NHS job crisis where you had a 1:5 chance of just getting an interview, (I should stress that I had wanted to be a nurse since I first visited my mum in hospital and had the ward sister place her nurses hat on my young head. During my visits I would don my hat and follow behind the nurses as they did their drug rounds- I was 4 at the time). As there were no jobs where I studied in Birmingham, I was forced to move home and live with my parents. I started to apply for jobs, but the story was the same at the local hospitals. I broadened my search to care homes around the area and then in my desperation, to schools, offices and shops. I attended an interview at a care home; although they weren’t looking for nurses, newly qualifieds are always hard to come by and I was hired on the spot. I was tremendously grateful. When I was offered the post I had an application form in my car for Sainsbury’s stacking shelves and an interview at Boots chemist that evening.
I started at the home and loved the clients and the staff. But the routine and structure began to wear thin; typically newly qualified nurses orientate towards fast, dynamic wards with a high influx of patients and drama. This was anything but. Within a year I started to look at Australia who were reaping the rewards of the UK NHS job crisis and recruiting new nurses to the posts they were looking for. However, within a few months the rhythm at the care home changed when the senior nurse went on sick leave. Within our team of nurses, no one wanted the responsibility of filling her role and I reluctantly took on the challenge of “Acting up”. It was a role I would for fill for 11 months; during this time I was given the challenge of changing the culture, routine and updating the archaic systems by joining forces with the committed management team. It was a job I relished, but managing a team of 90 (some of which were old enough to be my grandmother) wasn’t easy, but the home manager took me under her wing and I am forever grateful for her coaching.
I did receive the post despite my doubts about my age and abilities, and continued as I had started by empowering the staff and our clients. However, the routine began again and this was compounded by the added pressure of the senior nurse role. In my personal life, my relationship with Jon (my high school sweetheart) was becoming serious. Plus he had taken a job Mon-Fri and finding time together, when I worked all hours, was putting the relationship under strain. At this time, one of my nurses handed in her notice. Her reason for doing so was that she didn’t want to wake up knowing that she would be doing the same routine today as she would in 2 years time. This really hit home. I had started to become disillusioned with nursing; the press were particularly cutting about care, the pressure was exhausting and I couldn’t think how I could eventually have a family given the commitment to the job. Her comments resonated in my ears. I couldn’t think of anything more challenging than spending the rest of my working career as a nurse, and yet the thought of leaving was terrifying! I would be turning my back on my qualifications and everything I knew. The problem is, when you realise everything isn’t as you had hoped, you either have to act on it, or accept your fate!
It was at this time that I read the career truths to ignore in Glamour (I’m ashamed to say that this was lost during a “De-clutter your life!” moment). But I know it talked about glass ceilings- I had reached mine. On a tidy salary of £30K and career stability, I was doing well for someone aged 26, but the natural career progression was not really any more money and a heck load more stress. One of the Glamour truths was about changing career. Plus I had read loads of Glamour articles about women who gave up job security, amazing salary, great house etc. all to follow their passion. A career change was something I considered, but when you factor in university timescales, then a career and a family, you’re in your late 40’s before your career finally starts!
Clutching at straws, I contacted an acquaintance, Suzi, who was the wife of Jon’s colleague. She had left her stable job some years before, risking it all on a new software venture, Sparkol. Not really knowing how to help, she offered to train me in graphic design, but only if I would be willing to sacrifice a day off a week; also this would not be paid. As it turns out, Photoshop is a fickle mistress and I found this challenging, but couldn’t let this opportunity pass. Yet the Sparkol team didn’t need another designer at this time- certainly not a rookie. I appealed to the manager in an email and my writing style caught his attention. He could sense my passion and willingness not only to be involved but to start from the bottom and work my way up. I was offered the position of PR and Communications which I readily accepted!
However, in my social life, Jon and I had found and secured our house, but the timescales were becoming unmanageable. Sparkol wanted me to start immediately, but one thing you should never do is change jobs when securing a house and a mortgage. As December crept closer we threw caution to the wind, trusting that Sparkol was the right place for me. I handed in my notice at my previous job and my last working shift was Christmas Day.
As January approached I realised I was not only starting a new job (that I had no training in!), but moving into a new house and marrying the man I loved! In addition, Suzi has become a wonderful friend within work and outside, in fact she’s my bridesmaid!
2013 is shaping up to be a pretty great year, and without Glamour Magazine that gave me the encouragement and inspiration to change career I wouldn’t be as blissfully happy as I am now.
We’re about to have a bank holiday weekend and that Friday feeling started this morning with this little experiment. I simply loaded a custom hand of a person blowing a straw, tried to record some blowing sounds and this is the result… What can you create that looks completely different to anything else you’ve seen produced in VideoScribe?
So I’ve been playing with morphing tonight – this is a few weeks away from being in VideoScribe, but I thought I would tease you with this short video of one of the very many features that are coming to VideoScribe…
Say hello to the new updated iPad app now available on itunes
This update is a huge improvement, with a new fresh and easy design you will be able to work in VideoScribe a lot easier, be able to “export to camera roll” and many more amazing features. We very excited to hear what you think, so add a comment or give us a feedback rating on itunes.