Simon’s Story

Creativity and a discerning eye for detail are just two of Simon’s talents when it comes to all elements of design. Graduating from Plymouth College of Art & Design in 2007 with a degree in Graphic Design, Simon has ambitions of creating a design brand that encompasses the personable approach.

“The design industry is very competitive, and my career journey has taught me that difference could be key to success”, says Simon. “I am the only member of my family to go to university, and apart from my brother the only one to look at setting up my own business. The rest of my family are long-term employed and don’t always have the answers I am looking for, or the business advice I need to take my ideas forward and start making a full-time living out of my design”, explains Simon.

Simon has had plenty of industry experience in design after packing his life up in Plymouth and moving to Somerset to work at Screwfix HQ all within a week of being offered the job. “I was working on the design of the brand’s catalogues and print materials, and it was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down despite it only being a 6-month contract”, explains Simon.

Simon moved back home to Plymouth after gaining more experience designing packaging for Silverline Tools and freelancing for a design studio which formed his love for creating logos and developing brand identity.

“Although I had suddenly got somewhere with my design, I still felt there was something missing”. Simon had always wanted to travel, and had family living in Australia so after some deliberation he took the flight and called Oz his home for the next 2 years. Whilst living in Australia he freelanced his design services in Sydney, further developing his design acumen and growing as a person. “I had the most amazing time in Australia, I didn’t want to leave but unfortunately it can be difficult to stay on in Australia to work and I returned to the UK in 2017 feeling lost”, says Simon.

“Although I had grown as a person hugely, I had expanded my horizons and developed my design experience, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do next and how to go about it”. Simon started labouring for a construction firm for a short while, but quickly found this wasn’t for him. “I still had this undeniable urge to create something, I knew I wanted to take a new approach with my design. I wanted to merge my experiences in Sydney with my design take in the UK – a connection with people was now important to me, rather than just with a brand, communicating with an email, or with a faceless voice on the end of a phone. Creating a brand identity could be so much more if you are able to connect with the person and their vision”, explains Simon.

So, when Simon found out about Positive People’s Pop-Up Business School it seemed like the perfect opportunity to get the answers and support he needed to push his self-employed ambitions forwards. “Whilst at Pop-Up, I learnt huge amounts. The approach they took was really engaging and forward-thinking and there are so many fantastic little quotes I could tell that really help you get over the fear and doubt when setting up your own business!”.

“They helped me realise that you just need to do what you’re doing. Take that step. Don’t think about the what ifs too much, don’t allow doubt to hinder your progress or stop you from realising your dreams, I was also able to learn more about promoting my business with the use of social media with the support of Cosmic which is something I didn’t know as much about previously!”.

Simon was able to connect with like-minded people, who were not necessarily from similar backgrounds. “Everyone was on such a high at the end of the course, we were all buzzing. I really connected with some of the people on the course and we still regularly meet up now and have our own What’s App group called the ‘Pop Up Crew Dream Team”!”.

“I’ve realised that talking to people, networking and putting yourself and your ideas out there is really beneficial to your outlook and a collaborative way of looking at things always helps you move forwards, both with your ideas and socially!”. Simon is now attending regular networking events as recommended to him by Positive People and thanks the project for directing him to the Pop-Up Business School.

“For the time being I am working part time to bring in a steady income, but my business and my design is never far from my thoughts. I’m now looking to find a mentor that can help me with direction as I don’t always know where to turn or what to do next with my business and promoting myself. Eventually I would like to have my own creative space where I could collaborate with other like-minded people as I really enjoy the social element of my work and learning from people…I think Pop-Up Business School has really taught me the importance of that!”.

You can find out more about Simon and his design work at www.simoncookedesign.com or email at [email protected] as he is always keen to share ideas and collaborate with others who may be setting up their own businesses and need help with their branding or website.