Alex Thomas Design

We put 5 questions to Alex Thomas from Alex Thomas Design

Tell us a bit about your business – how did it get started, how long have you been involved?

I’ve been a graphic designer for over 20 years, but I’ve been working for myself  for about 5 years now. I started my career working in consumer magazine publishing for Future Publishing in Bath. I worked on a number of their IT and computing magazines, but mainly on MacFormat magazine, which I loved as I am a huge Apple geek!

After leaving Future, I moved into marketing and corporate design, working for an IT company called IPL and a homewares company called Cox & Cox, creating their marketing materials in print and digital as well as working on their websites. I went freelance in 2013, and continued working for a number of my previous employers in a freelance capacity, as well as for a variety of other clients all over the UK.

What are your favourite (and least favourite) parts of running your business?

I love the variety of work I get to do. One minute I can be making a white paper for an IT client, the next I’m creating a website for a wedding venue, then in the afternoon I’m doing a quarterly review for a solicitors. I also love the fact that my commute is only a few minutes as I work at home. I also love the flexibility of my job as it means I can spend time with my young family and balance that with work. The most challenging part of the job is finding new work. Freelance can be a real feast or famine profession, and so it’s important to keep momentum going to avoid those quiet spells from going on for too long!

What are your aims and goals for the business in the next 12 months and what are you looking forward to achieving most?

My main goals for this year are to gain more clients in Devon. We only moved here in Easter 2018 and so I am keen to get more local business, which is why I helped set up this group!

What is it about Okehampton and the surrounding area that makes it so ideally suited for you and your business?

My family and I moved here to be near relatives, which is the most important thing for us. My work is quite flexible, as I can work almost anywhere and so it is all about living in an area which creates the best work/life balance, which Okehampton definitely does. I also grew up in a smaller town like Okehampton and so I prefer it to living in a huge bustling city!

Tell us one thing about your business that will surprise people or that you think they wouldn’t otherwise know about it?

As well as my graphic design business, I also run a website about self published and independent comics called Pipedream Comics. I self-publish my own magazine called The Pull List, which features articles from the website in print form, and I sell these at comic conventions around the UK.

You can find out more about Alex’s work at www.alexthomasdesign.co.uk

Donalds Menswear

We put 5 questions to Mark Turner from Donalds’ Menswear

Tell us a bit about your business – how did it get started, how long have you been involved?

“Donalds” first opened it’s doors back in 1984, following Hepworths decision to close it’s Okehampton store. Donald Rooke owned and ran the business until his retirement in 2016.  Mark started working with Donald in 2005 as Shop Manager, and began learning all aspects of the business: product knowledge, measuring customers, completing alterations, buying stock, made to measure etc. In September 2016 Mark & Gail Turner became the new owners of Donalds Menswear.

What are you favourite (and least favourite) parts of running your business?

There are many things I enjoy about running my own business: meeting new and catching up with regular customers; the variety of tasks in any given day or week; being responsible for the buying of stock (especially new brands to the shop); and the pride (and some relief!) when these new brands are well received by our customers. Also being part of the local business and wider community.

The least favourite part I would say is losing the “spare” time that used to be spent with family and friends. But along with other challenges that occur, it is something that comes with the territory and is both expected and accepted.

What are your aims and goals for the business in the next 12 months and what are you looking forward to achieving most?

In the next 12 months, we aim to update and grow our online and social media presence, while continuing to offer the same service, range of stock and introduction of new brands and products to the shop. Many will have already noticed the new colour of the shop front and business stationary.

What is it about Okehampton and the surrounding area that makes it so ideally suited for you and your business?

The Okehampton area is generally a great place to live and work – as I have done all my life, and Gail moved to from Tavistock around 19 years ago. So when the opportunity arose to own our own business here, it just seemed right!

Tell us one thing about your business that will surprise people or that you think they wouldn’t otherwise know about it?

Some 100 years ago, the building that Donalds Menswear currently trades from used to be a Bank!