Inspirational Woman: Sarah Senior | Managing Director, White Rabbit Creative

Sarah Senior

A talented entrepreneur with a passion for creative and the drive to get results, Sarah had an impressive track record in design and client account direction in food retail and brand management before making the leap from client-side to client services.

This wide-ranging experience & expertise gives Sarah a unique insight and perspective into the challenges faced by marketers and businesses alike.

Following a spell managing the client services team at the Chicago-based division for her previous employer – an international packaging design specialist – Sarah returned to the UK and decided that the time was right to pursue her dream of running her own business.

Sarah identified that there was a gap in the UK packaging design sector for a company that offered a considered approach to creativity, whilst putting customer experience front and centre.

In January 2016, Sarah set up White Rabbit Creative Ltd (in partnership with her husband Michael, who is the company’s Creative Director) to provide expertise to businesses in need of strategic creative thinking and execution.

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

I’m Sarah Senior, MD of White Rabbit Creative. We specialise in creating branding for fmcg products in the food & drink industry and we also work across other sectors creating identities for campaigns and marketing materials for clients throughout the UK.

My career began in London, working as a designer in a PR firm on accounts such as Ben & Jerry’s, Red Stripe and McCoy’s Crisps. I then moved to the other side of the fence, working in marketing and picking up skills in brand management, product management, retail and manufacturing.

Back in 2008, I returned to agency life as an Account Director, where I enjoyed adding real value to my accounts – drawing on my client-side knowledge that I’d built up over the years.

After spending time in 2015 working in the Chicago offices of our previous employer with my husband Michael (who is now my co-director at White Rabbit), we came back to the UK driven to be in control of our own destiny – that’s when the idea for White Rabbit came about.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

In the early days I didn’t have a rigid career plan as such but found that by sticking to what I truly enjoyed, I had soon amassed quite a lot of relevant experience in similar fields. I realised quite early on that I preferred giving direction rather than being a designer myself, so I moved into marketing. This is something which has really helped me to understand things from the client perspective and has been invaluable in shaping our offer.

I’ve certainly planned where I want to be with White Rabbit Creative: We’d identified that the UK branding and packaging design market had a gaping hole with no-one truly offering a considered approach to problem-solving that puts the customer experience front and centre.

I’m driven by the goal of establishing the go-to branding & packaging design company outside of London and I’m delighted to say that in the two years since we launched White Rabbit, we’ve made positive strides towards that goal, in terms of our offering and in attracting top creative talent to join our team.

Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?

As with all start-up businesses there have been many challenges along the way – some big & some less significant.  I’ve found that it is very demanding having to wear all the different hats needed to run a business as well as dealing with a busy day-to-day workload. Naturally this has eased a little as we’ve recruited new members of the White Rabbit team and I’m now able to concentrate more on the bigger picture.

What advice would you give any budding entrepreneurs?

Do your homework first; but be true to yourself and follow your professional dream!

It almost goes without saying that nothing can replace hard work & persistence, but it’s also extremely important to maintain your focus on what you want to achieve whilst also examining & re-examining every area of your company’s offering. Keep your ideas fresh and relevant to your customer and be sure to learn from any mistakes you make along the way.

I’d also say it’s important to be clear about your points of difference compared to your competitors and ensure that you communicate these differentiators from the outset.

It’s also OK to take it easy on yourself from time to time and to step back a little from the business to maintain objectivity and to be receptive to new ideas and sources of inspiration.

If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?

It’s hard not to mention issues with inequality in answering this question – which I have experienced first-hand throughout my career and on more than one occasion.

It’s so important to have a strong belief in your own capabilities, whether male or female, but for some reason I think women seem to expect so much more of themselves than they really need to.  I’m grateful to have worked with some truly phenomenal women throughout my career, many of which just didn’t seem to realise how good they were.

I hope that through White Rabbit, we’re able to provide recognition and reward to all of our team equally without getting blind-sided by those who simply shout the loudest – something I think happens all too often in business.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Whilst I’ve worked hard to carve a successful career working for a variety of businesses, my biggest professional achievement has been the launch & rapid growth of White Rabbit Creative.

I’m delighted to say that although we’ve only been in business for two years, we’ve now exceeded our year 5 targets already – three years ahead of schedule.

We started from scratch, without a single client and we’ve managed to build a credible design business with a fabulously talented team and client partners that we love working with. I’m really proud of this achievement and know that there’s so much more to come!

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

Following this phenomenal period of growth in the two years since White Rabbit was launched, our next challenge is to keep completely focused on delivery, especially as we scale up.

We’re also committed to recruiting at least two more team members by the end of 2018 and the challenge will be to attract the same pedigree of talented professional as we have on board in the current White Rabbit team.

We are always looking for ways to future-proof our offer, partnering with experts in other fields to help us meet our client needs.

We’ll be looking to help established and emerging brands to fulfil their true potential – growing our business along the way, hopefully by referrals from happy clients.

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