News Article ————

Satsuma Group is in the running to be crowned Best Start-up Agency of the Year in the 2023 UK Content Awards.

Author image Published by isobel.regan@dontpanicprojects.com
Published Date 08.06.2023

Here, Ellen Widdup, Managing Director of the already multi-award-winning full-service creative agency explains how the business – which is just shy of its second birthday – began and how it has grown in such a small space of time.

They say necessity is the mother of all invention – and this was certainly the case for me.

About five years ago, my husband and I divorced, and I became a single parent to three neurodiverse children – two with autism and the third ADHD.

When you believe life is ticking along quite nicely only to have the carpet ripped out from under you, you have two choices; cry, cry and cry some more or pick yourself up, dust yourself off and pull up your big girl pants.

Honestly? I did both. But the latter is what led to the creation of Satsuma Group.

Once upon a time I was a national newspaper journalist. I worked as a reporter and then news editor for the Evening Standard before moving to the Daily Mail and then turned to freelancing, writing for all national titles.

But like many women in this industry, after I had children, I found it nearly impossible to juggle the inconsistent working patterns of the newsroom, the costs of childcare and the constant pressure to compete with my male colleagues, who never seemed to have the same responsibilities as their female counterparts.

Like many nuclear families, my career had to take a backseat to my husband’s, and I became largely the stay-at-home mum, dabbling in a bit of freelance copywriting to keep my hand in.

Desperate for some regular income after our divorce, I took a low-paid permanent position with part time hours at a local PR agency, but I felt I could do more. I was bored, frustrated and annoyed with a working world that just didn’t seem to fit with the lives of people like me.

And so, I made a decision – the “pull up your big girl pants” one.

I quit my job, and launched Satsuma with the intention of creating something entirely unique using the talented workforce that simply did not fit the typical 9 to 5 hours.

Two years on, we provide fully integrated creative services to companies across the UK in the most cost-effective way, giving clients big agency know-how, delivered with the enthusiasm of a boutique and without the London price tag.

We are doing this with 25 retained clients, and 15 remote staff, 11 of which are women who have been pushed off their career path simply because they couldn’t find a position that worked around home life.

Nine of us have kids. Four of us have children with special needs. Others manage caring responsibilities for elderly relatives.

Contracted hours are adapted to suit their lives, allowing them to build work around other commitments that are equally important.

You may well ask what challenges come with being this flexible. The truth is, I’ve faced none. We have systems in place to keep people informed of where we are and when, we communicate all day long and have joined-up calendars that make sure no meetings are booked in when people have personal appointments.

What’s more, our clients love it.

Throughout 2022 we won an average of three clients each month and expanded the team by approximately two each month. Our last job advert attracted 135 applications and the scope of talent available to us simply because of the way we work is phenomenal.

The bottom line is that the working world changed considerably with the onset of the pandemic, accelerating existing trends in remote work and flexible working. But while many businesses returned to their previous incarnation post lockdown, we created a new way of working.

We brought together a diverse, dynamic and dedicated team of people who may never have met, let alone had the opportunity to work this way after being displaced from a workforce that failed to adapt to accommodate them.

And, valued and respected, they are using their incredible talent and wealth of experience to deliver award-winning campaigns, capturing the hearts and minds of the people their clients most wish to reach.

Ellen Widdup, Managing Director of Satsuma Group said: “All too often PR firms forget to PR themselves and a simple, cost-effective way to celebrate all the wonderful work you do is to enter an award. The UK Content Awards is easily one of the most prestigious in the calendar for our industry and has allowed us to really show off the incredible work we have put in over the last 12 months to drive growth and achieve real, tangible results. We are utterly thrilled to be shortlisted.”

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