Meet our SCALE Alumni

We were fortunate enough to catch up with Kim Sanford this month, founder of Illustrated Identity, who we recently supported on the DigitalCity SCALE Programme, aimed at digital business leaders in the Tees Valley looking to grow their business.

Kim leads a creative personalised clothing company featuring humorous messages that resonate with customers and make them smile. Seven years on the business is thriving and she is now taking her brand worldwide.

What attracted you to your current business?

I always wanted to be a graphic designer. I like creating, making and designing things and always have done since I was a child. My first job was with the company Rabbithole in Leeds, designing for the music industry with some really fascinating clients. It allowed me to be creative and have fun.

How did you come to launch your own business?

After an operation on my left kneecap, I had to learn to walk again. It took me six months to get back on my feet and I moved back to Leeds to work in the fashion industry and e-commerce, where I realised I could work for myself. I also spent some time travelling around Thailand and America, where I got the idea for some of the slogans on our T-shirts.

How did you hear about DigitalCity’s Scale programme?

I heard about DigitalCity from fellow business owners who had been on the Scale Programme and they told me it was very worthwhile. I’d already been running my own business for six years, but I still found it really was 100 per cent worth it. It was a chance to think deeper about growth and the company, rather than be reactive, planning to driving it forward. The course helps you think about other options that can make everything work smoother, help us work better as a team and push us in the same direction.

What were the strengths of the Scale Programme?

It provided a really good environment in which to grow. It created a community of like-minded people and provided a lot of expertise and technical processes that help run a successful business which can be applied to your own work. I now have three graphic designers and it’s a six-figure company specialising in athleisure clothing. We also do branded workwear, making it all in-house and supplying companies and organisations with uniforms, including The Salvation Army, the National Trust, gyms and T-shirts for events and marketing tools.

Where do you see the company going in the future?

We want to push exports to America, Germany and Sweden. We are doing this using good SEO, which is my background, and I’m hoping to take on two extra staff to design, print and embroider.

Scale would have been useful earlier, but it just goes to show it’s never too late to get involved with the programme. You never sit still in business, you can always scale up and the programme could apply to a multitude of businesses.

The DigitalCity SCALE Programme is aimed at digital business leaders in the Tees Valley looking to grow their business. For more details and to register your interest please contact David Dixon, Digitalisation For Growth Manager at david.dixon@tees.ac.uk

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