Jordan is the founder of Curlyworm Creative, a boutique content and social media agency helping clients to ditch the overwhelm. Unlike others in the space who glamourise the hustle, Jordan champions mental health above all else and has built the agency around prioritising the personal over the professional.
Made up of a collective of freelancers with Jordan at the helm, Curlyworm Creative only takes on clients who are contributing positively to their industry through disrupting the sector, giving back to their communities, or something else to get rid of the “we do it this way because we’ve always done it this way” attitude many companies suffer from. When she’s not working you can find her exploring the depths of the Norfolk countryside, along with all the food the county has to offer, with her husband and two dogs.
Thank you for interviewing with us today, can you introduce yourself to us?
Hey, I’m Jordan, Founder and Content Queen of Curlyworm Creative. I started the business at the end of 2019, originally as part of a plan to do something I love while travelling around with my now-husband and our dog. Unfortunately Covid and Brexit stopped the travel plans but didn’t stop my business from growing!
Having experienced my own mental health challenges, I now prioritise it above all else, allowing the business to ebb and flow around whatever is going on with me personally. A big part of this is never asking my team to do something I wouldn’t be prepared to do. Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean I know how to run a PPC campaign or create beautiful graphics like they do! What it does mean is that I will never expect them to work when they are sick, work overtime unless I am too, or with clients whose values don’t match theirs. I also encourage them to be open and honest with me about what they have going on and let me know if they need extra time on a project. It’s all about good communication!
Something that always used to drive me crazy when I worked for other people was when decisions directly impacting my day to day job were made without my input. With that in mind, all major decisions about the business (including taking on new clients) are brought to the team first so they can give their opinions. Very often they spot things I haven’t noticed, which just shows how important it is to get new perspectives on things.
Can you take us through your journey to where you are now?
How the business started is actually kind of a crazy story. I met my now-husband, Liam, two days before he was due to move to the Netherlands for six months for work (he was a skydiving instructor at the time), so we spent the first six months of our relationship doing the long-distance thing. About four months in, Liam asked if I would be open to moving to join him for the 2020 season and I said yes! It meant totally uprooting my life but I was so excited. We hatched a plan to live in the Netherlands for the summer and spend the winter travelling around Europe. At the end of his season he moved into my one-bedroom flat in Norwich city centre, which would have been great if it hadn’t been for Covid!
As the Covid restrictions came in at the end of March I lost all my income as client after client stopped projects. Thankfully our plans to move abroad were delayed rather than cancelled and we made the move in June 2020. We then spent the next eighteen months living in the Netherlands, which allowed me to grow my business with a range of international clients from the US, across Europe, and even stretching as far as Vietnam! As I got busier I needed extra support and took on my first freelancer in 2021, they’ve been with me ever since!
At the end of 2021 Liam and I made the move back to the UK to be closer to family, giving me the opportunity to reconnect with my existing network in Norfolk. The business continued going from strength to strength as I focused on working with SMEs on a longer-term basis. At the start of this year I took on another freelancer, allowing me to expand into Paid Ads. Today Curlyworm Creative is a full-service social media and content agency with me working full time in the business and three freelancers working part-time.
Since starting, have you made any changes to your business model?
The biggest change is going from being a solo freelancer to having other people working for me. Part of this was improving processes (read, putting them in place) within the business so that everyone knows what’s going on with various projects. It took a while to get stuff out of my head but we got there in the end!
Have you ever had a mentor? If so how has this benefitted you either personally or professionally?
I haven’t had a formal mentor but am in the lucky position to have a supportive network of other freelancers and business owners who are always willing to lend an ear and make suggestions. That relationship goes both ways too!
What outlets do use for marketing?
My main outlets are face to face networking and my personal LinkedIn. I find that face to face is great for building a personal relationship because you can immediately gauge whether or not you’ve clicked. LinkedIn is great for solidifying those relationships – many times I’ve had people come up to me at in-person networking events saying they feel like we know each other because they follow me on LinkedIn!
What or Who has inspired you most recently?
I think inspiration is a tricky thing because it involves looking at what others are doing, something I generally try to avoid doing as a chronic over-comparer! That being said, there are a couple of people I admire – Hannah Anderson from Kyma Media for her honesty about how running a company impacts her mental health, she really does lead by example; and Joe Glover from The Marketing Meetup for his positively lovely approach to business.
What is the best piece of business advice you have received to date?
That ebbs and flows are a normal part of business. When you first start a business you expect to be at the bottom and to continuously be on an upwards climb, but it doesn’t work like that. Yes, you will definitely have upward climbs, but there will also be periods where things look a little scary. When they happen you kind of have to zoom out to remind yourself that your overall trajectory is going in the right direction.
Another piece of advice to live by is that not every client is a good client. It doesn’t mean they’re bad, just that they’re not the right client for you. So don’t be afraid to turn people away if their values don’t fit with your own!
How do you create an evenly balanced work and personal life?
It’s taken a while (just ask Liam!) but now I would say I have a great work/life balance. For me that looks like not working past 6pm unless I’m going to an evening event, not working Wednesdays, and never ever doing work stuff at the weekends. I have a separate work phone which I leave out of sight whenever I’m not working so I can’t check it. The only work-based thing I have on my personal phone is my calendar, for organisational purposes only!
Name a seminal point in your career so far?
Right now I’m running the social media and writing the newsletters for the Association of Breast Surgery, which I love! I also worked with The Marketing Meetup on their social media a few years ago before they had someone in-house, which was a total dream come true after admiring Joe for ages.
What gives you ultimate career satisfaction?
Working with great clients. Clients who see the value in the service I’m providing and trust the advice we give them are always welcome.
How do you define your own success?
Success for me is all about having as much free time as possible to hang out with Liam and our two dogs, Teddy and Kenny. We’re both huge foodies so going for long lunches in the middle of the day gives me all the positive feels. We also love going for adventures with the dogs, whether it’s weekends away or long walks in the Norfolk countryside. For some people success is material, and that’s great for them, but I’m all about the quality time. My view is that you never know how much time you have left, so you might as well enjoy it.
Finally, what can we expect from you next?
More of the same! I finally feel like I’ve hit my stride with the business and am right where I should be.