Clare's Journey to Enlightenment
Back in the depths of my memory, I recall Steve and I talking in early 2003 about starting up a graphic design agency to utilise the wealth of knowledge Steve had gathered in his years in the industry. His background was in print (as was the 'way' back in the pre-historic era) and as internet services were still in their relative infancy we made the decision to make the most of his skills and focus on print work.
With the support and encouragement of Paul Fong of Hunter Page Planning and Mark Faherty of Trio Accountancy Services, Maple Rock Design was born in November 2003 in what was then our spare bedroom.
We moved into the offices at Thornbury House in January 2004 and so began our journey - Steve, myself and our 3 year old daughter Izzy. During the early weeks and months Steve focused much of his time on developing professional relationships with several local businesses, eventually meeting Michael Ratcliffe and then adding Steve's expertise to the Cheltenham Chamber of Commerce.
Fast forward this picture to early 2010. By this time we'd got 'brave' and added in website development and html marketing - both skills we consider to be key strengths for Maple Rock. I'd left my job of over 17 years in academic publishing to fully focus my admin skills on Maple Rock. We'd also begun working with Endsleigh Insurance, Axonex Limited, Arctech Design Associates, Cheltenham Borough Council, The FA Group and many more. In addition Steve and I (plus Izzy and our second daughter Maddy who was 4 years old by this time) had the fantastic support of our designer Karyn and developer Rich. All was looking rosy for our future. All until April 2010 when Steve first became ill.
Steve's debilitating illness has been well documented by me and by the time he passed away in November 2010 Karyn, Rich and I had become a three-man-team - a designer, a developer and a complete novice. Yes, I admit it, I was a complete novice when it came to this industry. I couldn't tell the difference between different weights of paper, didn't understand the different methods of printing and was generally stumbling around somewhere between grief and blind determination to succeed. What I was able to offer were the organisational skills to take the Maple Rock team forward.
Over the next few months, we all met this massive life change with gritted teeth and much enthusiasm. After all, this was what Steve and I had created for our future and it wasn't just my responsibility to him that drove me forward but to our two children, to Karyn and to Rich.
I don't mind admitting, there was more than one occasion that I really felt I had bitten off more than I could chew. But with the support of Steve's friends and colleagues plus some new friends we kept on going and here we are, 2 ½ years later and approaching Maple Rock's 10th anniversary in November 2013.
The future' does anyone really know' As I've already mentioned, our ability and experience with HTML mailings are second to none and we are continuing to expand our portfolio and client base whilst still supporting existing clients. We regularly attend local networking events and are always happy to chat over ideas with people whether it's a formal enquiry or just to act as a sounding board. Anyone who has visited our offices will agree that we're a happy and extremely creative bunch and have always got tea, coffee, cakes and biscuits on the go!
One thing I've learned in the last 10 years is that we should never limit our expectations or horizons. The Maple Rock family never ceases to impress me and I hope that anyone who meets any one of the team will see what a fantastic bunch we really are. All this developed from a single Mac computer in our spare bedroom' anything is truly possible.