I am Ema Townsend, owner of Panache Creative Media. My career started in Graphic Design many years ago. After formal training, I began working for a Coventry based printing firm. I was soon in charge of artwork, design and the darkroom (yes darkroom, before computers were used in mainstream print)
Leaving the company after several years, I wrote a business plan and won a loan from The Princes Youth Business Trust and set up my business in Design & Print.
Soon after, I saw a trend shift into people using the internet more so learned as much as I could about ecommerce and the internet and began building websites. After adding further elements to the company like direct sales marketing and advertising, I transferred those skills and knowledge and took on a demanding role in Local Governement whilst maintaining my businesses healthy client base. As Marketing, Media & Communications Manager, I set up a self financing business unit. Now let me say at this point, I have heard many jokes over the years regarding council workers and their love of tea, some of which is true but I can give you the inside scoop of how hard these people work to deliver services to the public under extreme pressure and stress of working to ever decreasing budgets and shorter time scales. Despite opinion, working for a council is not a job for life and I certainly didn't witness staff standing around drinking tea all day ;-)
In my role, I modernised design and print practises and saved the Council £100k in my first 6 months. How I did that - I set up an in house advertising agency negotiating favourable rates from all paper based and online advertising channels. Centralised all design and marketing work by building an in-house creative design team. I centralised copying and print functions on 44 multifunctional devices and developed a robust electronic job ticketing database system which recorded every single job and allocated budget transfers against departmental expenditure codes.
My team and I worked hard on producing the 'Focus' Magazine which went out to all local residents, we wrote the copy, took the pictures, designed the magazine and managed it's web offset print. It was received well by the residents and won a highly commended communication award which I am very proud of, especially as were going up against London authorities who has teams of 20 working on their magazines whereas we had just 3!
Still hungry for more, I saw the opportunity for helping out other local authorities and advised on modern methods and new technologies such as interactive touch screen platforms and emerging digital print. We (now a growing team) took on work for others and were quickly making a profit.
As work demand grew, so did the team and the pressure remained constant with us at least needing to break even every year which was challengi and with bringing in new equipment and upgrading machinery especially as at year end, any surplus money was absorbed back into the council.
I stayed at Warwick District Council for 14 years with my last big pieces of work; managing the implementation and content uploads of a brand new Intranet system with a portal allowing staff to ask anonymous questions of management; being part of a staff engagement team which was high on the agenda of importance in my last few years.
Like most other Government bodies, austerity measures were introduced and restructuring took hold and I was forced to look at my own team. Higher Management decided to change direction for our team and only wanted us to concentrate on work for ourselves moving forward. I struggled with this decision but agreed to do a Catalyst Leadership training course which did help me in seeing the bigger picture as far as the authority went however, it also meant I had to let go of clients that I had brought with me some of which I had. been looking after for years. This did not sit right with me. I did try though and managed a procurement tendering process for print which they still use today and I did everything asked of me and more. I felt like there was an itch I just couldn't scratch though, something was missing and I knew that my clients and working with others was where my strengths were and so with heavy heart, I knew it was time to move on to something new.
I surround myself today with skilled creatives and have built up an excellent portfolio of suppliers and tradespeople that I've worked with over the years that complement the services I can provide. I still design myself and work with other designers, website creators, marketeers & leaflet distributors. With a strong background in print, I know how a job is produced end to end so design with that in mind making sure the client gets best value every time.
I love to work, I love to help people, I love what I do. If I can use my experience to help or advise someone else, I will always jump at the chance. I talk in plain english and tell customers as it is, I think this is why I have quickly become the first person customers email & call when they need help. They know I will always go the extra mile for them.