Case Studies - See how we Help our Tenants to Grow and Expand
The Elsie Whitely Innovation Centre (EWIC) has always been a home for creativity and innovation, but one of our latest tenants is really pushing boundaries when it comes to entrepreneurial spirit.
Collective Elements, brings together a wide collection of creative elements under one alternative banner. “This is not an Ayn Rand type movement in Halifax!” says Emma Ashcroft, director of talent management company. “It’s simply a collection of very different aspects of media, art, and more recently, sport.”
Collective Elements began life as Sharron Ashcroft Management, in 1996 in a space at Dean Clough Mills where Sharron was joined by daughter (and current director) Emma Ashcroft as Sharron’s assistant in 1997. They worked together for 10 years until Sharron left in 2007 and Emma made a deliberate move into representing fewer actors and more creatives, such as directors, writers and photographers. Emma says: “It wasn’t the best time really, looking back, to start shape-shifting as I had a 6-month old baby and the economic downturn was really kicking in, but there was a massive dip in work available to actors. I presumed that by representing creatives, I may create in-house opportunities for the actors I represented, and that has been the case.”
In 2008 Emma’s brother Simon Ashcroft then approached her about working with his company, Satellite of Love Records. “Simon’s the real success story here – he had no introduction to the music business. He got into through gritted determination. His label manages, produces, does A & R, and he is a musician himself now. He’s worked with the likes of Bryan Ferry and Florence & the Machine, to name a couple so to have him on board with Collective Elements is amazing.”
Music is something that seems to run in the family where Emma is concerned. Emma has a degree in Contemporary Music from Leeds University; whilst her father Ken Ashcroft worked with Brian Epstein during the early '60s, touring with The Beatles, as well as managing acts such as Billy J Kramer and DJing at "the most famous club in the world" - The Cavern Club in Liverpool; plus grand-father Stanley Hibbert was a professional touring musician, a trumpeter with bands including the Syd Lawrence Orchestra, the Tommy Sampson Orchestra and the BBC's Northern Dance Orchestra. He also taught Roy Castle along the way, as well as performing numerous times with Frank Sinatra.
Speaking about being based at EWIC, Emma says: “The Elsie Whiteley Innovation Centre has been a brilliant springboard for me with this new projection forward. I feel energised by the building, the businesses and the people. What the Halifax Opportunities Trust is setting out to do is create a space there that breeds industry. It really works in this spacious yet intimate location. It feels like a real home for my businesses.”
Caremark, the home care provider, offering care and support services to people within their own homes and in their local communities are coming up to the end of their second year at The Else Whiteley Centre (EWIC). The company offers services to help the elderly and disabled with day-to-day tasks, personal care and meal preparation. In addition, Caremark also offers the “Habito” live-in care and support service.
Alison Jackson, a qualified nurse, former Rosemary Conley franchise owner, and ex- corporate sales manager at Jaguar, started her Caremark franchise in April 2010 from EWIC. In just twenty two months, Alison has seen her workforce grow from two people, to fifty two people, of whom five are based in the office, making them a real success story for EWIC. Alison’s husband, former professional footballer and manager, Peter also works for the company, carrying out marketing and networking activities.
Despite researching in to many office spaces around Calderdale Alison decided on EWIC for her company’s base. “The atmosphere here was a big selling point for me. Everybody seems to know each other, which is what I felt was lacking at other venues” said Alison. EWIC prides itself upon its community atmosphere, and encourages its tenants to meet each other, and where possible, collaborate with one and other. A tenants breakfast is held every Friday morning, which is supplied by the Centre, and gives the tenants a prime opportunity to get to know their neighbours. Other features of the centre which swayed Alison were the central location, the tenants meeting room and the reception which “acts as a brilliant first contact point for our clients.”
Alison is always looking for ways to expand her business, which could lead Caremark outgrowing their current office, and moving up the EWIC ladder.
Limehouse, the independent production company, producing innovative, creative and effective content for film, television, and all forms of multi-media are moving in to their fourth year at The Elsie Whiteley Innovation Centre, having been in the building since September 2008.
Nick Howard (Current MD) founded Limehouse in 2007 from an Incubator space in Leeds. Limehouse have worked with household names such as TESCO, First Direct, and Lloyds Banking Group. This continued success has seen them outgrow many offices at EWIC and have recently agreed a deal which will see them move in to the centre’s largest office, thus indicating that their future is well and truly with EWIC. Amongst the first of the businesses to take up residency in EWIC Nick has seen his staff grown from just himself up to a workforce that is twelve strong, and with the move to a larger office in the very near future this workforce may be set to grow again.
Having met business development manager Ha Smith at a Creative Networks event and having seen the centre, Nick was enticed to move his business from Leeds because of the building itself, its location, the creative space on offer and the ample car parking facilities. Since moving to the centre Nick has come to appreciate the backroom staff also. “The behind the scenes work here is brilliant, and I feel that it has helped to facilitate the growth of my business, especially in the early stages” explains the Limehouse MD.
In the early stages of Limehouse’s tenancy at EWIC they were part of “Northern Circle”, a consortium made up of all the like minded companies within the centre. This allowed them to collaborate with many of their neighbours, meaning that they could offer a wider range of services to their customers than they could singlehandedly manage at the time. Since becoming more established the need to collaborate with other EWIC tenants has decreased. However there is no doubt that the opportunity to do so in the early days certainly helped to accelerate the development of this BAFTA nominated company.
INK DIGITAL AGENCY
This year INK Digital Agency, the experts in making websites more enjoyable for the people who use them, and more profitable for the companies who employ INK, will celebrate their tenth birthday, and plan to see out their first decade with continued growth and success. Founded in May 2002 by Helen Darlington (Current Head of Creative) from the spare room in her home, INK have worked with clients such as AVIVA, Virgin Active and Renault to name but a few. This has meant for a natural progression within The Elsie Whiteley Innovation Centre (EWIC) from a relatively small office to one of the centre’s larger spaces.
INK have enjoyed three years at EWIC and since moving in Helen and business partner and husband Tony have seen their workforce double from four to eight members of staff, in addition to the growing number of freelancers. Helen believes that the sense of community has contributed to this growth. “Being surrounded by other like minded companies gives us something to gauge ourselves on. There is also the chance to collaborate with the other companies, providing a greater service to our customers.” INK have worked with creative production company, Limehouse and training & development company, Smart People.
Melanie Greenwood, director of Smart People praises her EWIC neighbours. “INK digital have designed and built me a highly professional website at a very reasonable price... and we've had fun doing it. INK are a pleasure to do business with. They work long and hard to deliver high quality products and services with lots of added extras. I would recommend them to anyone and everyone.”
Another factor towards the company’s growth and success at EWIC has been the support of EWIC business development manager Ha Smith. “Ha really champions all of the businesses here and genuinely wants every business to do well” says Helen. Ha works closely with all of the tenants in the building, offering them advice and guidance on how their companies can progress and expand.
INK are looking to expand further this year and are currently looking to recruit a digital strategist, a digital marketer and two people to join the development team. Although Helen wants the company to grow, she insists that there are no plans to look elsewhere in order to do so.