Helen, Website Designer

A client, who knew me in my previous career, asked me this today, so I thought I would share my journey.

Advertising and beauty

When I left school, more years ago than I care to count, I had a couple of office jobs before I got my main job, pre-children, working for the local newspaper, The Bury Free Press. I sold and designed advertising which I loved, mainly due to the fantastic bunch of people I worked with. Once I had my children, I trained in beauty therapy, which I had always loved from an early age. I remember experimenting with mud packs that set like concrete and stick-on nails that just looked ridiculous! The beauty bug had bitten me.  I continued working as a beauty therapist while I trained in reflexology and clinical aromatherapy, and finally became a college lecturer. I loved those early days in class with groups of enthusiastic, beauty-passionate students like I had been. Sadly, the classes got bigger, the teaching time got shorter, and we had to diversify into teaching other subjects like English and maths too. It was time to leave teaching, but I stayed working in beauty until I took the brave and rather impulsive step of launching Foghorn.

Cheat sheets galore

All the time I had been teaching and working in beauty, I had been tinkering with websites, but I didn’t go to technical college and my degree is not in IT. Instead, I put myself through a rigorous training programme from home. I studied hard, filled many notebooks with ‘cheat sheets’ and learnt a lot by trial and error. According to my nephew, Ben, who is a highly skilled software engineer for an international software company, that’s what you do at college too! I was lucky enough to be able to gain real experience by creating several websites free of charge for friends and by then, I felt right at home with my computer and cheat sheets.

Always learning

To extend my knowledge further, I attended webinars, listened to podcasts and even joined a very technically focused Zoom group.  I stayed in the background, trembling slightly, but I was amazed that I understood what they were saying! Terms such as BITS, RAMS, ROMS, API, and CAMELCASE meant something to me! I got it! I understood what these techie people were saying!  Did this mean I was a techie too? Could I call myself a website designer soon? Well, to be honest, I had always enjoyed studying and learning new things.  In fact, in one anatomy lesson, the stand-in lecturer called me “The Why Girl” because I asked so many questions.  I thought it was a compliment as I was so fascinated with the subject.  Years later as a lecturer myself, I realised what a pain in the **** I must have been!

Foghorn was born

The decision to finally go for it, become a website designer, and set up Foghorn, was not taken lightly. I had bills to pay, but there was something fatalistic about it.  I just had that gut feeling that it would be okay.  Now, in my third year, I can reflect back and announce, “I wish I’d done it sooner!”.  Not because I want to make millions, (although a villa somewhere in the Caribbean would be nice).  It’s because my ethos is to offer a website design service that is available to even the smallest of businesses.  Employing a website designer from big agencies usually means big overheads and therefore big prices for any website, however small.  The beauty of my small agency is just that.  It’s small, personal and it’s always me at the end of the phone.  This could be seen as a disadvantage. I don’t have a junior to pass work onto to get it done quickly.  It actually means that I can keep the cost of a website way down.  To date, I have never let a client down by not being able to help them within a couple of days.  I pride myself in giving the kind of bespoke service you only get from small companies.

Foghorn Express

This year, still believing that even one-man/one-girl-bands should be able to have an online presence, I created Foghorn Express.  I still create bigger websites when an online shop or multiple pages are required, but Foghorn Express is a single page website.   It is just as Google-ready as it’s larger counterparts, but it’s just £199. You can even be paid in two instalments! Times have been tough for business generally, so I really wanted to help anyone to have a website and that’s exactly what I will carry on trying to do.

In summary

Back in beauty school, I couldn’t have dreamt what an exciting career I would have.  I have worked with premium skincare brands, met industry icons, like Eve Taylor, Lee Stafford, and Mark Hill, and owned my own salon.  Now I think I have never been happier sitting in my office fighting my cats for desk space. I love creating websites for all manner of businesses from beauty salons to  fire protection companies, and everything in between.  My work motto is “feel the fear…and do it anyway”.  Perhaps I could apply that to the rest of my life when I next get asked if I want to go snowboarding!

Have a great day for real, and online

Helen xxx