We caught up with Rebecca Jeffery who appeared on The Apprentice but now runs a successful business with her sister. Rebecca Jeffery is full of life, energy and passion for what she does as she shares her insight into her life in business with her sister Fi which they set up over three years ago, aptly named Fi and Becs Design and Marketing.
Life for Becs began in the corporate world in the worlds of funerals and telecommunications. As she explains, “I loved what I did and had a real passion for the marketing side of things which was great. I worked long hours and loved what I did and for me it was like a childhood dream fulfilled as I loved writing as a child and dreamt of becoming an author so the world of marketing and copywriting is probably as close as I could get. I do feel very fortunate to have had the roles that I had!”
Life changed in 2012 following the birth of her little boy Olly and some time on maternity leave where she did some freelancing for her sister who was working in design and needed some words for a client. From that moment on, although they probably never realised it at the time, their business was born and the sisters began to work together. As Becs adds, “Fi is my older sister by six years and we have always got on well together and what started out as a bit of freelance work became a business in 2013. My maternity leave was coming to an end and I was weighing up all my options and the possibility of going back to the corporate world full time or part time but took a brave decision not to go back to employment and start the business with Fi.”
Fi and Becs have complimentary skills and a like-minded approach to business. Fi has a design background that marries well with the copywriting and wordsmithery of Becs which has a multitude of uses – advertising, proposals, point of sale materials, brochures etc and their clients range from the smaller end of the business scale with farm shops to more household names and the larger operations of Matalan. As a business, clients are at the core and as Becs adds, “We both love to be creative and come up with campaigns delivering what it is the customer actually wants to see and we use the stories behind our clients in their brands and collateral to help them deliver and demonstrate a real point of difference.”
Much has been written over the years about siblings starting out in business together but Fi and Becs are certainly bucking any negative trends. “It took about six months of working together to set the parameters and framework for the way we work today,” continues Becs, adding “After six months we really respected each other and we are wired the same way too which really helps and in meetings it is like we can read each others minds – we certainly know what the other is going to say even before they have said it.!”
Fi and Becs both have young children – Becs has Olly who is now 4 and Fi has two children under the age of 9. “Family is integral to who we both are and has been right from the start,” continues Becs. “Our business is built around us meeting the needs of our clients whilst being Mums too. We make no attempt to hide from our parental roles and embrace being Mums, flexibly working to get things done and our clients all know that we work later but are not around much from 3-7pm and that is OK!”
Family dynamics and sibling relationships in business can be a challenge but Fi and Becs embrace this relationship. “We are totally honest with each other,” continues Becs, “and it helps to keep things real and we can deal with moods and normal things in life, probably because we are sisters. There is nobody that I would rather be in business with – Fi is mega and our dynamic enables us to work with clients and take them to the next level, and to do that with your sister is amazing!”
“For us there are not really any downsides as we have lots in common with the business and the kids and the way that we work but we are conscious that when there is a wider family get together that we do not let every conversation take the two of us back to the business, which would be really easy to do and it is important to try to have time away from the business and not to let it take over your life, but that is easier said than done when it is something that you do and are passionate about every day!”
The business continues to grow and now has over 180 clients on their books. “We are so proud of where we are today but have big plans for the future too and we are both incredibly proud of our achievements, not least in that we have created a successful business and balanced being Mums at the same time. Whilst you never get a lot of downtime, we would not have it any other way and one thing that we have both aware of is the grey area between the personal and business lives that we lead but we never apologise for being Mums either, and our clients understand.”
As a growing business Fi and Becs face challenges like other businesses too. “Our challenges are about growth and keeping up with demand – a great position to be in and we are always on the look out for freelancers who we can work with, understand our brand and get the model.”
We could not finish without mentioning The Apprentice which as Becs sums it up, “was the most massive piece of free advertising for our little business, the business that I was running with my older sister. I was only on the series for six weeks and never won a task but at the same time I never stabbed anyone in the back either. I was me, honest and open and these qualities have really helped us in business too. Our connections on social media grew as a result of the show and have helped us to grow subsequently.”
Fi and Becs continue to make their mark and summing their life in business together Becs is clear. “We are flexible in the way that we work and what we deliver to clients to make it work for them, don’t take ourselves too seriously and like to have fun and it is all about family. We want to see our kids grow up and be involved in their lives and we have created the framework that allows us to do that too.”
Flexibility, fun and family wrapped up in one business!
Find out more at www.fiandbecs.com