People

Natalie has redefined what it means to be ‘strong’, and it’s helping her foster a healthier workforce

Natalie at TedX Winchester. Picture: Dave Zaple.

By Daniel Face [email protected]

Published: August 11, 2023 | Updated: 16th August 2023

Natalie Welch, Co-founder of communications agency The Typeface Group, is recognised as one of Britain’s strongest women – a label she came to bear long before getting involved in any formal competitions.

TFG logo“Being the ‘strong’ person, I’m the one people think will always hold everything together”, she said.

“At one time, I would have been like, ‘I can take on anything. Just give it to me, I’ll deal with it.’

“That label would become like kryptonite for me. I took it on as an identity, a sense of duty.”

It’s her own personal example of the ‘positive label trap’, which formed the basis of her recent talk at TedX Winchester and earned Natalie a standing ovation from the crowd.

Picture: Dave Zaple

“There’s a bit of a hidden, darker meaning to some of these labels”, she explained.

“People say, ‘we want a hardworking workforce’ – but what does hardworking mean to them?

“Or if you’re labelled a perfectionist and you make a mistake, that’s the worst thing in the world.

“If we can recognise where that’s coming from, and employers recognise when they might be pushing the narrative on people, then we can have a healthier workforce.

“It gives people the freedom to be more creative. We’ve lost a lot of that because people feel they need to do what they’re told rather than thinking about what they could do.”

Creativity liberty and flexibility have always been core tenets of Natalie’s own agency, founded in 2013 alongside her best friend and business partner Polly Buckland – a ‘reformed perfectionist’ herself.

“I’d literally just gone on maternity leave, and Polly said to me, ‘did you know you can be self-employed while still employed on leave?’

“I did not!

“At that time, social media for businesses was quite a new thing, and I was doing it on the side for the recruitment company I worked for.

“Polly was freelance marketing and told me that all her clients were asking for this social media stuff. She asked, ‘do you think you could come and help me out?’

“I said, ‘Look, can I have the baby first, and then we’ll talk about it. Let’s not make any promises!’

“I went into labour that night and had Alfie the next day, then six weeks later I started working with Polly as a freelancer.”

Fast forward another six months and The Typeface Group was born, with Polly’s kitchen table for a base of operations and a nanny share between them to give the new mothers some thinking room.

“It was just us two and a very frazzled bookkeeper”, said Natalie.

“We started off as a multi-service marketing agency, as most people did at that time, where you just say yes to everything, then learn how to do it!

“Now we’re purely communications – anything to do with the written word, either digitally or traditionally – and we’ve also got a design studio.

“We’re 100 per cent remote, flexible working, and we’ve been doing that since before it was cool.

“Our team of eight is also 100 per cent female, and I think we attract a lot of working mums because it means they can still do the school run, dentist appointments, things like that.”

The Typeface Group is also B Corp certified, with Natalie and the team increasingly turning their attention towards marketing waste.

Back in March the agency managed to get over 100 businesses signed up for their first ever Digital Cleanup Challenge, and with a few tweaks to help even more people get involved, they’re ready for another round this September.

“We’re offering some actionable advice as well as a challenge a day to record how much CO2 people can reduce”, said Natalie.

“We want people to think about their digital footprint – all these things we don’t pay attention to because we can’t physically see the transaction.

“The days are gone where to rank well on any kind of search engine you had to just churn out content. It’s now about quality over quantity.

“The message we’re trying to send out is, ‘rather than smashing out emails weekly to your customers, why not do one really rich monthly one that actually gets opened?’”

That’s what’s up next for The Typeface Group – for now, Natalie is cracking on and encouraging people to take a second look at some of the labels they may have taken for granted all these years.

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