Thrive Face Of The Fortnight – Steve Jenkins, SJD
Leaving the safety of graphic design agencies to set up on his own was a big gamble for north Norfolk creative Steve Jenkins. But he’s held true to his vision, and says the world of self-employment is exciting and fulfilling.
Thrive: Pitch us your business, Steve.
Steve: I’m a Graphic Design Consultant. I’ve been around a while and I’ve worked for a lot of agencies so I have made all the right contacts. That means that now I can offer the same level of service as a large agency, but employing me is more cost effective. I never think of myself as a businessman – the money is just a bonus! My real pleasure is gained when I can add value to my client’s bottom line. Hence why SJD stands for both Steve Jenkins Design and also ‘Success Judged by Deeds’.
Thrive: Does it feel different to work on your own?
Steve: That’s the beauty of it, I don’t work alone. I am in a creative hub. So a client will come to me for a package and if I can’t do something, I find them someone who can. I can pull in all the services my client will require for their project. I’m not one of these advertising types who bluffs that they can do everything. The definition of graphic design is the art of delivering a message visually. That comes first – I’m not one of those airy fairy types who throws art at a page for art’s sake!
Thrive: What’s your business style?
Steve: When I take on a job, I become part of my client’s team. From then on, I am their designer and I behave as such, and that seems to be appreciated. I work with lots of different types of clients – from start-ups to big corporate organisations. Both can need their hand holding at times, so I always try to be straight-forward and pragmatic.
Thrive: How did you hear about Thrive?
Steve: I met Lorna at a Norfolk Chamber exhibition and she was very interesting. I’d been to one or two networking groups before that, but I didn’t think they were right for me. However, I spoke to Lorna and she seemed like a nice lady so we met for a one-to-one chat and then went along to a meeting. It was great, relaxed and informal. We are all from different backgrounds but our group seems to share the same sensibility.
Thrive: What do you like best about the meetings?
Steve: The people who know me will know what my answer is going to be – the breakfast! The Maid’s Head do a lovely breakfast. I particularly like the sausages, mostly because you can have as many of them as you like! Other than that, I really like connecting with other members. We would all like to get work out of it, but there is no pressure for referrals. I find it good as an individual to go to meet other people and get their spin on things. I hate standing up for the 60 seconds presentation but with the encouragement of the other members, I have got better at it. It’s helped to build my confidence.
Thrive: What’s been your biggest contribution to the group?
Steve: I did the branding work for Thrive – both the concept and the graphics. It made me feel really part of the whole venture and very included. Working with Lorna was great, she then shared my ideas with the rest of the members. If we want to take ownership of our group, as we all do, then everyone has a right to a say. The reaction was great, everybody seemed to really appreciate what was done and to them it really sold Thrive.
Thrive: if you weren’t in your business, in which area would you really like to make a splash?
Steve: I am the director of the Reepham Festival, a highly successful annual music event, so I could easily move sideways into that world. But I’d most love to be an ageing rock star! I have half a dozen guitars at home but, as my wife Sue says, ‘you can’t play one guitar, so why do you need six?!’
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