Interview Spotlight With Katie Cope

Katie Cope is the founder of Keppel Leopard Creative – a branding agency specialising in the creation of brand identities for female-led businesses. 

Based in Manchester, Katie uses her varied experience in events, theatre, film & TV to create emotive, engaging, and original brand strategies and designs for her clients. She regularly runs workshops on branding techniques in the local area, and is also a mentor for The Girls’ Network to help the next generation of female entrepreneurs. When she’s not working, Katie loves to spend time with her family. She has 2 boys aged 8 and 3 and has been married to her husband Daniel for over 10 years.

Thank you for interviewing with us today, can you introduce yourself to us?

I’m Katie, the founder of Keppel Leopard Creative – a branding agency specialising in creating brand identities for female-led businesses which I have been running for the last 4 years. 

Before running the business my full-time job was working in the events industry; I worked in a venue in the heart of Manchester which hosted political conferences, large gala dinners and international exhibitions. I also had the opportunity to work on the organising side of exhibitions in my last full-time employment before I went self-employed. 

I have also worked in Film & TV within the Art Department of a Netflix production and have always had a passion for theatre so I have had a varied background!

I am also a mum of 2 boys and own a very loveable staffy called Star (you can sometimes hear her in the background snoring!) When I’m not working, I love spending time with the family and I love sitting down to watch a good movie! I’m also a mentor for the Girls’ Network which connects young girls with businesswomen to provide them with the support and connections to follow their dreams.  

Can you take us through your journey to where you are now?

I started my business journey when I was made redundant from my full-time position. At the time, I was 7 months pregnant with my youngest. I was given no warning, 1 week’s pay, and 8 days holiday pay and that was it. 

I had two (realistic) options: just wait for everything to blow over or try to get another job at 7 months pregnant. OR I had a 3rd wildcard option which was to start a business. So, five days after I was made redundant, I had set a business providing graphic design services to small businesses. 

Since then, the business has gone through parenting changes and a pandemic. I joke that it could be hit with a meteorite, and it would still be here!

Since Starting, have you made any changes to your business model?

Yes! I originally started by offering just graphic design services, but realised that my clients weren’t getting the recognition and visibility that they wanted from graphics alone. That lead me down the rabbit hole that is Branding and Brand Strategy and Design which is what the business offers now. 

Have you ever had a mentor? If so, how has this benefitted you either personally or professionally?

Yes, I have had a mentor for business, and it has honestly been great. For me, when I started my business I thought that I needed to do everything on my own, but I soon realised that certainly wasn’t the case! Having a mentor just gave me the time to consider certain aspects of my business, and to just be that gentle reminder of what I wanted to achieve. 

What outlets do you use for marketing?

So last year I made the decision to move my marketing strategy away from Social Media, and whilst the handles exist on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn I no longer post on these channels. The biggest reason for this was ultimately it didn’t align with the business values. 

The main ways I now market is networking (face to face and online), providing training and workshops and through word of mouth. 

What or Who has inspired you most recently?

I’ve recently just signed up to the Better Business Act which Mary Portas is leading. I’m very much for treating clients and customers as humans with individual needs, wants and desires, not as numbers or something that has to be push through a funnel. 

What is the best piece of business advice you have received to date?

Be okay to fail. Every day I do something that I fail at, and that’s okay. Because at least I’ve taken that leap of faith and tried it, and from that failure I’m learning. You don’t learn anything if you win all the time. 

How do you create an evenly balanced work and personal life?

This has been something that has come up for me recently because there has always been a strive to live that “work-life balance”. 

In the 9-5 this was something that I definitely wanted, but as a business owner my main aim is just to have balance. I love the business; I see it as part of my life. 

So, there will be some days and weeks where I will be working much more in my business, which may mean missing out on family time. But there will also be times when I am fully focused on being with them. 

I think the ultimate aim is to ensure that when you are doing one or the other, you are 100% focused in that moment. 

Name a seminal point in your career so far?

I think it would have to be when I left my job in events to work in Film & TV. 

At that point my job was full time and permanent and I had a young family, and I left all of that to go into a seasonal job where I had a 2-hour daily commute to set! 

I think having that faith in myself and doing something that I was interested in was the catalyst for my decision a couple of years later when I started the business. 

What gives you ultimate career satisfaction?

It may seem cliché but ultimately when I see my clients getting the recognition they deserve. It means that I’ve done my job properly and that is everything to me. 

Are there any leading entrepreneurs or SME leaders that you admire and if so, why?

I’m a big fan Rachael Rogers, Simon Sinek and Mary Portas – I like the vision that they have for the world and the idea that there is space for everyone and to treat each other as individuals.  I also like Chris Do and Seth Godin for creative and marketing techniques. 

How do you define your own success?

Success to me is being content: personally, in my career and financially.  

Finally, what can we expect from you next?

I will be launching my fully bespoke branding service in April which is incredibly exciting and something that I’ve always wanted to do rather than offer a set package service. It means that my clients are going to get a truly bespoke brand tailored to their needs. 

And my hybrid programme which I launched this month will always be running alongside it as an evergreen service.

But ultimately who knows?! I’m always one for trying out new things so there may be some other projects in the pipeline later in the year!

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