Melanie Cant (Mel), founder of Elm Marketing Solutions, is one of our esteemed Design Partners based in the UK and has recently earned her new status as a Rocketspark Gold Partner.
Mel designed her 50th Rocketspark website earlier this month, claiming Gold, something she is really proud of.
“I keep pinching myself, it’s been four years since I started on the Rocketspark road, so it didn’t happen overnight, but reaching 50 is quite an achievement isn’t it?” she said.
Mel used to work at an accounting firm doing marketing and customer service back in 2014 and while she was on a Xero roadshow she was introduced to Rocketspark.
Her boss at the time decided to use Rocketspark to design his website, so Mel ended up on the phone to the support team over here to work out all the kinks while they were setting up.
“I really enjoyed the experience, my background was in marketing and customer service so I was a bit apprehensive, I didn’t know if I’d be up to it, but the team at Rocketspark were really good and I loved it.”
Fast forward a year-and-a-half to 2016 and Mel was struggling during the six week school holidays as she had no one to watch her 9-year-old daughter.
“She spent most of the holidays sitting behind my desk at work. It was pretty soul destroying… she should’ve been outside playing,” Mel said.
That’s when Mel decided she had to put her notice in at work and spend some time with her family.
“At that point, my boss said, ‘well, why don’t you set up on your own, doing marketing and things you’re good at?’ I sort of laughed a bit, but then I thought, actually, it’s not a bad idea,” Mel said.
That’s when Elm Marketing Solutions was born.
“Elm is an anagram of my name, Mel, because I couldn’t think of what to call myself,” she laughed.
Mel decided to create her new business website on the Rocketspark platform and when she was talking with support about the set up it was suggested that she could become a Rocketspark Design Partner.
“I had a lot of help from the team and I got my website launched and then I started on some of my clients sites and it all started from there.
“My core services are social media support, website design, and general marketing support for small businesses who can’t afford to have a marketing department.”
Mel said she really enjoyed the challenge of design. Coming from a marketing background, she said it was a nice change that allowed her to use her creative side.
“My mum, although she wasn’t a recognised artist, she loved art, her creativity came out when she was sewing, she was a seamstress. My brother is an award winning photographer in the UK, and I’ve got a sister who is a hairdresser, so, we’ve all got these creative outlets.
“I just found mine through design and building websites. I’m quite particular about the way they need to look and feel and the functionality of them.”
Mel said her family on her mothers side have all been very creative and it was nice for her to find her creative side and be able to use it in everyday work.
Like most small businesses, Elm Marketing Solutions started with a few loyal clients, but because of Mel’s accounting background she knew she needed to have a few different revenue streams to get her business up and running.
“I knew if I set up my social media side that would be a regular income, and I had the website side, and then I had other clients who pay for me, ad hoc, for marketing support within their business."
For the first couple of years Mel networked a lot, she spent time getting to know other people in the industry who had different strengths to her, like photography.
Those early years networking have paid off massively as she is now referred to new clients by a lot of those people, and she does the same back for them.
Mel also spent a lot of time, in the early stages, getting to know her clients better to understand their needs. They would often ask if she could do this, that and the other thing, and she started by giving everything a go, but soon found she couldn’t manage it all.
“After a year [in business], I thought ‘you need to strip this back and concentrate on the things that, a) you are really good at and, b) you really enjoy doing’. So that’s what I did.
“Funnily enough though, website design was never part of my strategy... and now [it’s] about 90 percent of my business. You’ll probably find there's a lot of other website designers out there that would say the same, especially over the last 12 months because everyone is scrambling to get online due to the pandemic.”
Since Covid-19 put the UK into lockdown, Mel has seen a steady growth, and this year it’s been booming, forcing her to concentrate on stabilising her business to keep herself from taking on too much.
Mel had Covid in October 2020. She had been looking after her Gran, taking turns with her Aunt, calling and visiting to make sure she was alright. At one point she hadn’t heard from her for a while and she got a bit worried because she couldn’t get in touch with her. Mel went to her place to see her, she let herself in and found her on the kitchen floor and she’d been there over 10 hours during the night.
Mel called an ambulance and got her into hospital and it turned out she had Covid. Because Mel had spent time with her waiting for the ambulance, even though she was wearing a mask, she caught Covid too. And when she went home, her daughter caught it as well.
“Luckily, it didn’t really impact us, we lost our taste and smell, but other than that we managed to get over it. My Gran is 91 and she bounced back. But I am aware of a couple of people who recently, one’s an extended family member and another is my best friend's mum, unfortunately didn’t make it.
“We’ve really been in the eye of the storm here in the UK, we are such a small country in comparison to most others, but it's hit hard and we’ve felt it.”
Mel said, for her, on a business level it was quite the opposite.
She said, where she lived, there had been a lot of money pumped into the community to help fund businesses to get them up to date online and she’d managed to put her hand up to be a provider for those businesses.
“It’s sort of bittersweet, on one side of things I know people who have really been affected by Covid, including myself and my immediate family. On the other hand, for me, business is booming,” she said.