Meet Gemma, our Creative Digital Designer

I’m Gemma, co-founder and Creative Digital Designer here at Grow Your Website. Given that I’m going to be offering my expertise it’s only fair that I share a bit about me.

I’m Nottingham born and bred and have always loved helping people and lending a hand where I can. I’ve lived in Stapleford and Long Eaton and now live in West Bridgford with my partner, Jamie, his kids (at weekends) and our dog, Cassius.

gemma family

I enjoy travel, tapas, crab sticks and meeting new people. I watch Casualty on catch-up and write lots of lists so I get the pleasure of ticking things off.

And despite throwing my dummy out of the pram when Jamie made me watch Game of Thrones, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever seen. Not normally my kind of thing.

My creative side

When I cast my mind to the days when I performed in my “pots and pans band” on the front garden, I guess I’ve always had a creative side.

And the same goes for business. I remember me and my mate Scott cycling around the block with portable house phones, pretending we were important business people haha. And trying to sell rose water to passers by.

Them were the days.

Fast forward five years. Oops, I mean 30, and I’m offering my creative services to others and feel so proud of what I’ve achieved.

Finger Lickin’ Good

I wasn’t 100% sure what I wanted to do when I left school. I knew I wanted to earn money immediately so in the week I turned 16 I bagged a job at KFC in Long Eaton.

You could sell chicken to a vegetarian!

A random customer

I had an absolute blast. Working at KFC taught me:

  • how to communicate with people
  • how to organise my time
  • and that work is fun

One of my highlights was when I was up-selling Popcorn Chicken to my customer when he said, “you could sell chicken to a vegetarian”.

Yes, I could!

I knew working for a fast food restaurant could result in severe weight gain so I tried so hard not to indulge. In the two years I worked there I only had a handful of KFC meals. That’s willpower for you. The smell on my clothes and hair at the end of a double shift though – gross!

Such a great experience – and one I’d recommend to all school leavers as a first job.

Things didn’t go my way – but I’m glad

I started to study A-Level German with the view of becoming an English/German translator. I’m not sure why I wanted to do this as a job but something really appealed. Maybe because I thought I had a good grasp of the basics, such as “Würden sie das bitte wiederholen? (can you repeat that please)”.

I struggled that much with the grammar, I remember sitting in class with a tear in my eye. It was the first time I ever felt I’d failed at something – and it broke me.

I also began studying Graphic Design and was made to feel stupid in class because I couldn’t draw and render a sphere. I tried so hard but honestly, I’m not a pencil to paper kind of designer. Give me a digital setup any day!

I quit both of these classes and put all of my energy into IT – something I knew I’d be able to succeed in.

I’m glad I did. Some things are a good fit for you and some just aren’t.

I’m a Creative Digital Designer

After 6th Form I studied a Business Admin modern apprenticeship within local government. This was what I’d call my first “real job”. I really enjoyed it and worked with some amazing people.

I don’t know shit about web!

Me, in 2002

I finished my on-the-job learning much earlier than planned and my manager asked if I’d spend my last 6 months on the web team. “I don’t know shit about web”, I remember saying. We joked, but a few days later I was in a different team writing HTML – completely alien to me at the time.

I was still on the web team two and a half years later when I applied for a Creative Digital Designer post at the University of Nottingham. I was a little dubious applying for a roll that was asking for way more experience than I had, plus, the salary was something like 70% more than I was on at the time. Talk about daunting.

I was invited to an interview so went shopping for my first ever interview-worthy outfit. I wore a pale grey fitted suit with a smart pink top from a shop in Nottingham called International – remember it? It was where Burger King is now, just off the square.

I crapped myself in the interview. But they obviously liked me.

I remember the exact moment I received my offer. I was in ROKO cafe with my mum and nan and screamed uncontrollably when they asked me to join their team.

My little side hustles

Around about the same time (December 2006) I started up my first ever business, I4DZYN (meaning eye for design – cool hey, haha).

I loved that I’d taught myself (with the help of my manager at the time) how to code that I wanted to do it as much as possible.

It was great working in higher education, but it never seemed to give me enough creative freedom, being constrained to just one brand.

Which is why I ran a business too – for variation and to help small businesses stand out online. With a year, I’d re-branded as Gem Design.

This went so well that I reduced my hours down to four days at the Uni to ensure I still had a work/life balance.

I dated for a couple of years but it wasn’t long before I fell in love.

Me, in 2015

I dated for a couple of years between 2014 and 2016, but it wasn’t long before I fell in love. With photography.

I experienced first-hand the low quality and misleading photos that people uploaded to their dating profiles. I’d found a niche. I made it my mission to abolish the bathroom selfie. My dating business, We Just Clicked, helps single people stand out and find love on online by capturing eye-catching photos and writing engaging dating profiles – and it works. I’ve help loads of single people meet potential partners. Such a nice feeling.

I’m not wanted anymore

Jump to February 2020 and I’m in an office with my team, my director and someone from HR.

You guessed it. A restructure.

I had the opportunity to apply for UX/UI Frontend Designer role, but I decided to take voluntary redundancy. I’d been looking for a new challenge for a while so it seemed like a no brainer. It was time to turn my side hustles into a full-time income.

I now help people in business stand out and get noticed by offering digital and print design services – all the time!

And I shoot brand photography and LinkedIn headshots (among other things), again, to help people stand out and create a great impression.

My latest venture

I met Karol at a networking event in 2018 and we decided to attend the Nottingham Digital Summit together to learn from like minded experts.

We kept in touch and have continued to support each other and bounce ideas around.

After deciding that we’d like others to benefit from our vast experience in digital design and development, we embarked on a joint venture, and Grow Your Website was born. 

A social media graphic promoting our free website reviews

I’m your Creative Digital Designer and Karol’s your Digital Business Consultant and together, we’re here to help you grow your website.

If you’ve not experienced one of our exclusive website reviews yet, I highly recommend you book yours now. We’ve had amazing feedback and I love that we’re helping businesses to improve their online presence and generate more leads.

Have I honestly been rabbiting on this long?

That’s me. I talk a lot, don’t I?

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning a bit about me and my background.

Do get in touch if I can help in any way. I’m always happy to answer any questions you have and hope to see you on a website review very soon.

Gem

Don’t forget to connect with me on LinkedIn

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