This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #ChooseToChallenge. You could say that’s been Home’s mantra all along…

In this blog Liz Clover, Co-Managing Director gives an insight into life at Home, and how even after 40 years we’re still challenging our industry.

“It’s Home’s 40th birthday this year. That’s a lonnnnnnnng time for an agency to exist. Carol Whitworth founded her business all those years ago because she quickly worked out that she couldn’t work for anyone else. So she decided to take the bold step of setting out on her own.

I first met Carol nearly 15 years ago when I was a client. I thought she was the cook, definitely not the agency founder. She had her sleeves rolled-up, apron on and was grafting away in the kitchen making an incredible lunch for me and my then team. But that is Carol through and through. She goes against the mould. Does what she thinks is right. Has an enormous heart, loves to entertain and has the ability to always make me laugh.

I love agency life. It’s fast paced, you can make decisions really quickly. I love the work we do helping our clients and the team we have around us. Last year when Carol asked if Hattie and I would step-up and become Co-Managing Directors we were both thrilled. It’s not your typical agency set-up to share the role, but it works. We’re using two sets of strengths and we’re both staying client-facing – that gives us a real advantage.

We’ve always been female owned – but now we’re female-led. In fact, our leadership team consists of six females and one male. Boom!

I can’t prove that it’s our female leadership style that keeps us innovative, but I do think that women think differently. One of the first decisions Hattie and I made in our new roles was to create HomeEX our brand new employee experience subscription service. It’s launching today. What a thrill. It’s an idea I had on one of my darkest days during lockdown. Agency life always has ups and downs, but like many of us I’ve never experienced anything like the rollercoaster that was 2020. It was a stressful, gruelling, upsetting and exhausting slog.

At the beginning of lockdown number one, I was doing my daily walks, trying to look after my mental and physical health. Juggling work and home schooling. Trying my best not to shout at my husband. The initial shock, and fear turned into a drive to rise to the challenge. As an agency we rallied together with a shared sense of determination that Home will survive.

But it was hard to stay motivated. In April everything seemed to go on hold.  We had to make some tough decisions, that were very hard for everyone involved.

Things are looking so much brighter now, but on a particularly dark day in July I was struggling with the difficult decisions we were having to make and feeling down. I decided I needed to focus my energy on something positive. I had a break from client work and no meetings booked in. Remember that? Definitely a sign of the times. The thought came to me to map out what my dream agency would be like. What could a successful, amazing agency business model and offering look like?

I opened Word and started to thinkand type

I thought about all the knowledge and experience we’ve built up over the years. How could we make it more accessible? How could we widen our influence and ability to improve more people’s working lives? How could we have a better platform for our thought leadership? How could we add more value to a wider client base?

Then it hit me. A subscription service.

If we could distil all our knowledge and experience into a suite of DIY tools, we could make our thinking and ways of working much more accessible to a larger audience – at a more affordable price. Agency thinking, without the agency price tag.

Not only would we be giving back, but if it was successful then a subscription business model could make us financially more stable and less vulnerable if the world were ever to go on hold again. I spent the rest of the day thinking about it.

Becoming Co-Managing Directors gave us the fire in our bellies to get the subscription service off the ground. Hattie thought it was a wonderful idea and Carol simply said “Go for it. Quickly.”

What has been joyful is how everyone at Home has pulled together to get it launched. It has taken a mammoth effort from absolutely everyone. Everyone has brought their own unique skills and strengths to the table, with bags of energy, ideas and drive to make it as good as it can possibly be. It’s made me feel really proud. And hopeful for the future. It’s shown me that out of one of my very darkest days came a positive energy that everyone has jumped on and we’ve amplified together. Oh, and it looks great. I love the HomeEX branding our clever studio developed.

Anyone who knows us or who has worked with Home will tell you, our culture is really special. Challenge and energy is in our bones. But so is a softness. A togetherness. It’s a combination that lots of organisations try – and fail – to create. Is it because we’re female led? That’s hard to say. But our environment lets new ideas thrive. Even after all this time. That’s incredible really.”

To find out more about our brand new subscription service, HomeEX, click here.