Inspirational Woman: Lucy Werner | Founder, The Wern

Lucy WernerLucy Werner is an author, speaker, teacher and PR expert with over 15-years publicity experience.

She is the founder of The Wern, an award-winning PR & design consultancy for startups and entrepreneurs. Her first book “Hype Yourself: A no-nonsense DIY PR toolkit for small businesses” is launching January 2020.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

Hello! I’m Lucy Werner (Wern) and I’m author of “Hype Yourself: A no-nonsense DIY PR toolkit for small businesses” out in January. I’m currently on maternity leave with my second child but as I’m also the founder of my own consultancy The Wern, I’m doing a lot of work on the shop window and behind the scenes of the business as and when I feel up for it and the bambino is asleep.

I’ve run my own consultancy for the last five years and my partner joined me this year after being made redundant, we realised he wouldn’t qualify for paternity leave elsewhere so set up a design arm. We work together out of our garden office in east London.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Not at all, although I did know I didn’t want to run my own agency with staff, so it was odd I felt into that and digressed for a while.

This year, I did put some very ambitious targets for myself and I wrote a business plan for the year and actually did that thing of creating a vision or mood board of what I wanted to achieve.

One of the things I had on there was a book and I actually secured a book deal by the end of January, so everything I’ve done (aside from client work) in 2019 has been about growing my audience and a long-build marketing plan for that arriving in 2020. This also means that I’ve got a fair idea of what I want my 2020 to look like in terms of business goals and objectives. I genuinely think that nothing makes me more ambitious than pregnancy because it really focuses me on what I want my life to look like and what is possible.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

I think anyone who says they don’t face any challenges is lying. Running your own business creates a whole bunch of challenges.

For me, this year it has actually been the personal challenges with various family illnesses that I’ve found really hard. I’m very grateful that I work for myself so in some tough times I can take a step away, but I’ve also been able to throw myself into work as a distraction when I’ve needed too.

But what has been amazing is this emerging culture of the founders of businesses being the face of their companies and sharing their hardships too, so we don’t have to pretend everything is all fine, all the time.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Getting through this year and still smiling? Haha. I mean in all seriousness, when I look at what I have achieved this year from brand refresh, new website, launching design & branding arm, creating our first product ’52 PR Tips’, writing a book, promoting a book, creating my first online courses, alongside my day-to-day client work – it’s been a BIG year in The Wern. When I write it all out like that, I’m really proud of our team output. The book has already reached number one on Amazon PR wish list, number two in hot new releases and I still have a few months to go until launch!

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

I hope it’s because people know that I care and I’m honest (read direct). I don’t work on projects that I don’t think I can deliver on. For me, PR & design shouldn’t be seen as outsourced services but an intrinsic part of your business and I’m really proud and honoured to be part of people’s companies to help them do that and many business owners have now become lifelong friends. When I deliver great work that makes a difference to their company I’m genuinely over the moon, it is THE best feeling to know that I helped to do that.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

In both instances,  I prefer a much more informal approach. I would rather be able to phone someone or have someone call me in a moment where I/they have a specific question they need help with.

I would also say that in the last year I’ve met some amazing founders and we all continually pull each other up and share our best practice which is brilliant for feeling like you are part of a squad.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, what would it be?

For all my own historical self-confidence issues, I never had any qualms about asking for more money and that has served me well. So, if I could impart any of that bullishness to help others also ask for promotions, pay rises, higher speaker fees etc, then that is one very small cog in the big wheel of issues.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

Learn to love yourself first, stop trying to fit in and just do you. I was so busy seeking approval externally from boyfriends, school mates, work colleagues and trying to be like them when really, I needed to give myself the approval to be myself first. It took me a lot of personal development and to reach my 30’s to get that.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

The personal challenges really will be front and centre for a while, because it is and always be family first BUT there is something about my career that has always inspired me and kept me going. As long as I can keep successfully helping small business owners with their business, I have that satisfaction that I am good at what I do so my goal is try and find more accessible ways to do that with online courses, workshops and teaching in 2020.

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