13 October 2020
You Better Werk | Starting your own business in lockdown
You Better Werk is a YouTube channel designed to amplify the ambition of young women, trans women, and non-binary people across the world.
Our founder, Lyssa, was recently a guest on the show where she shared her experience of starting her own business in lockdown and how to be authentically badass and weird in your marketing career.
You can watch the full video here 👇👇👇
If you are would like Lyssa to join you on your podcast, please get in touch.
You Better Werk Transcript
(warning, this is lengthy AF! Might not be fun on mobile.)
Welcome back to the YouTube channel amplifying the ambition again women trans women and non-binary people across the world. My guest this week is Lyssa-Fee Crump. She is the founder at Kraken marketing, and I’ll put the link to her website below because it’s such good branding and it’s really really interesting to see how she brands herself. We had a great discussion she’s also based in Cornwall and she started her business during the pandemic. She talks about being authentic about being weird, and about her non-traditional career path. I hope you enjoyed this video if you do please give it a big thumbs up and hit the subscribe button.
I’m really excited to be here.
Yay, I’m really grateful for all of your support the channel so far so it’s really great to finally get to interview you and talk about your career journey and some of the challenges, and some of the highs and things like that. So, you described your career path as non-traditional. And I wondered if we could start by you explaining what you mean by that.
Yeah, sure. So, I think a lot of people see that the traditional career path is going to college and then go to university to study what you want to go on to do. At college, I studied Performing Arts specialising in dance. So I got really good at jazz hands, and I should say it was a fantastic course (that made it seem like it wasn’t) but it was wonderful and I loved it. And it actually really helped me come up my shell and build my confidence because I was incredibly shy. And then I didn’t go to university. I got accepted to go to Bath Spa to do a dance and biology combined degree. And normally when I say that to people, those two things don’t go together.
But they really do. Sports science is a well-understood area of study, but there’s only one university at that time that did dance science as an undergraduate, and that was one I didn’t get into. And so I was going to do a combined degree in some biology.
But then I decided I wasn’t actually going to be a dancer. So instead of having a wonderful time at university but getting in lots of debt I just decided to kind of start exploring the world and working and I kind of fell into marketing. It wasn’t anything I ever decided that I wanted to do but I ended up working at an e-commerce company and sold camping equipment which was something I loved, the outdoor stuff.
And then realised Oh marketing is quite cool, and when someone clicks this, if you do this and they click this then you can see that it’s happened. It was like the full digital path of seeing like instant gratification, basically, what you’ve done if it worked or not – I was like oh yeah I like this.
So, good and I think that, as someone with quite a traditional career path. I have been guilty of, and probably through slight jealousy as well, kind of going, Oh, people are travelling like for a year, like going on holiday.
But a lot of people find it very valuable and I think that was the case. Would you agree for you?
yeah, and I did mine in kind of short bursts I didn’t do a full gap year unfortunately which I always wanted to.
I went to work in a hotel in France and do a ski season.
At 18 then that was my first thing. And then when I moved back from to Anglesey in North Wales, and then came to home for a bit more and then I moved to London, so I was working my entire time of going places.
And then I did a couple of months in South Africa and Australia, where I had like, I think, a long holiday rather than travelling I don’t know. I don’t know what the time length is the distinction but I called it travelling, I don’t know in anyone else would.
For a long holiday.
Anything more than two weeks for me is more than a holiday.
It was definitely., I had the full experience of staying in like the grotty hostels which I love, and just living on, no money, having the best time.
And you said in your bio shockingly to some that you don’t have a degree. Do you find that that comes up a lot for you?
So, I’m a bit of a nerd, and I constantly look at all the marketing jobs in Cornwall, even when I’m not looking for one, just like to see what’s there. And so many of them want you to have a degree.- When it’s not necessary.
And in the tech world as well (I’ve got a lot of experience working in the tech world) they are often asking for like a computer science degree. When it’s not necessary, you can be completely self-taught, and a genius without a degree. And sometimes people won’t even like let you in the door for an interview. If you don’t have one. I’ve been really lucky that it hasn’t actually hindered me in my career.
Actually, that’s something I’m trying to stop saying at the moment is that I’ve been lucky in my career. I was saying this the other day – I was like, No, I’m not lucky I’ve worked really hard. Stop belittling yourself.
But I haven’t come up against too much resistance, and occasionally people have asked me what degree I did because I’ve held quite high-level positions in companies and when I say I don’t have one, they’re often shocked. But not like, oh, get thee gone just like oh that’s surprising.
But yeah, I, I worked really hard to learn on my own, and do lots of courses and there’s so much information online. Just because I was interested. It didn’t feel like work it was just fun.
Yeah, I think that that job description can be quite a barrier to people especially early on in their career when they don’t have the degree because we look at it as like a checklist of things. And I think the overriding thing from the people on the channel that don’t a degree is like just apply, because you’ve got other experience, you know, in the time that three, you know people are doing three years of partying and maybe going to some lectures and you had to get the old essay or whatever you’ve kind of had all this other experience or like you say you might have taught yourself and that’s where the value too and if the company doesn’t recognise that then they’re probably not the right company.
Sometimes you just need a conversation. Sometimes different people are writing the job adverts to the people actually hiring the person so they don’t always know, it’s like I’ve seen so many jokes online about bad job adverts that have been written, including one that said something like they want 10 years of swift programming experience and the language have only been around for like five years. And just people not quite knowing what they need when they write the ad, which is like miscommunication internally, it’s no one’s fault.
There’s also a really interesting stat about women and men applying for jobs. I talk a lot about diversity in tech.And women tend to only apply for jobs, if they meet 100% of the requirements, whereas men tend to apply even if they only make 70%. So, as women, we need to be more confident in our abilities and it was something we’ve won like as a role just go for it.
Yeah, and often like, especially if it’s a step up, you’re not gonna apply for it. If you have 100% of the experience because you might already be in that kind of job so, you know, I think it should be like a desirable, you know I can do most of it. And actually, I can be quite honest about this that I can’t do but here are some steps that I might take to get that knowledge or experience.
And my experience with hiring people is that team fit is so much more important than all the skills they already have, it does need to be the right person. And they’re missing like one area you can train them and develop them if they’ve got all the checkboxes but as a person, you don’t think they’re going to be the right fit for the team then they’re not the right person for you.
Yeah, I think that’s a really really important point and I think when people haven’t done the hiring, and not necessarily aware of that and that’s really helpful to raise. And you mentioned that you have just a love of finding out more about marketing and that sort of being able to see who clicked on what result, it had, but I wondered if you could expand on that and talk a bit more about what drew you to marketing and how you kind of got to where you are now.
Yeah, I used to be really interested in psychology.
And I actually want to be a forensic psychologist.
I’m obsessed with true crime and I’m so happy that it’s like really more mainstream, true crime. For a little while that as a teenager I was a total weirdo.
But my mum, as a mature student did a degree at university, a psychology degree. And we talked about it and I was just obsessed, and I told her I wanted to do this and she very wisely pointed out there’s like three jobs a year that come up in that position so it probably wasn’t the smartest career path.
But then I found out, with web psychology how people interact with stuff online how they purchase like having the colour of a button a certain way, or things inside positions.Like there’s a whole psychology to getting people to convert and do what do we want.
That sounds really sort sinister but we want people to do certain things online because, you know, we’re in business we are trying to get views.
So I really like that and as I started e-commerce, like I say that journey from, you know if you’re putting like a digital ad out in PPC and then people clicking through, and then purchasing and then coming back from newsletters just seeing that funnel and life cycle.
Once it’s like, you know, use pretty anonymize data but you can still see this one person going through that’s fascinating and how you speak to people how they respond to it, and that’s something that I’m really into as well as the way we speak to people as brands.
Having a personality and not being just corporate and vanilla and I think one of the worst things I ever hear business say is when you asked who that customer is if they say everybody because it can’t be everybody.
If you’re speaking to everyone you’re seeking to no one.
People like to buy from people, and people like to buy from stories and having personality. So my personal brand is a bit of a weird, but it’s, and I’ve played that into the marketing but I’m fine with it I know that’s what I am. And I think it’s part of my charm.
So, when I talk at conferences Everyone knows that my slides are going to be GIFs, they know I’m going to do an awkward finger point at some point during the talk because I can’t help myself.
That’s my personal brand and I put that into my marketing.
Yeah, we’re weirdos but if you like our vibe come work with us, we will do great things but if you just want vanilla marketing well we’re not your people because that’s not what we do.
I used to be so terrified of public speaking, even though I’ve done performing arts training, and like had a massive panic attack once on stage and just like it was an epic fail and I never wanted that to happen again. But when I go on this energy comes out, and end up doing jazz hands or like finger guns. I do that what I feel what could I talk to people anyway so it’s like how can I make this more awkward. I know finger guns.
You know, that led very nicely on to my next question.
I love that you said that your personal brand is being brave and a bit of a badass.
And I know you mentioned that you were really shy and then you kind of did this performing arts and calls at college, but I just wondered if you’ve always been a play and whether there was a turning point for you or how you kind of built up that confidence.
I think I’ve always been a weirdo. I’ve just become more confident in that, and I see the value in it now, that authenticity. I think I spent far too long. When I was younger, trying to pretend that.
Oh, like when I was trying to be corporate – urg gross.
Because I thought that’s how you were meant to be. And I was like, Oh no because that’s rubbish for everyone, let’s just be ourselves.
But yeah, it was a journey, and now that I work for myself, I feel like a new sense of freedom where it can be, like, before I’ve always been representing somebody else as well so like trying to be my weird little self, but within confines, that’s still good for their brand. And that can be a difficult balance.
Luckily, I’ve worked for some great brands that have liked my work.
But now that I have that freedom.
It’s really liberating actually.
I think like, it’s very interesting you say that because I have recently realised that I’m most uncomfortable when I’m trying to be someone else or trying to, like, Like you say, not necessarily corporate because I didn’t work in the corporate world but just how I think I should act and that’s not to say that when I don’t like that I’m, you know, completely out the bounds of normal.
You know, I don’t take things too seriously and I like to have fun and chat and all that kind of thing and I realised that I’m just so much more comfortable and that’s made me more confident and I don’t try and be different because it’s made me more anxious or nervous or public speaking, I’ve tried to do it as a different person just halfway through I’m like, this isn’t me I don’t, I feel really nervous now. I’ve got to keep this accent I’m doing
But you know what I should also say I need to give one of my really good friends a shout out here because I was very much. This is corporate Lyssa, this is normal Lyssa, and I kept very separate until she joined the company I worked at, I really couldn’t hide anymore She brought it out with me. And actually, that was so good for me.
It made me realise that I can do both I’m just, up until then I’ve always tried to keep it very separate and have this very professional as a. Yeah, no, she made. She made me weird.
You’re very passionate about marketing, obviously, I think you’ve demonstrated that very well. And you mentioned that there are many different kinds of roles and I think there’s that meme or cartoon on the Internet of like what is marketing oh it’s just messing about on social media.
I think is, you know, is a fair assessment of some people’s judgement of marketing. And I think if they knew all the different things that you’re talking about the data side there’s the writing side and lots of things so I just wonder, what advice you’d have for other people who are thinking of a career in marketing.
Oh so many things, try everything within marketing and find the bit that like you really like. And because there’s so much. It spans so much there’s so much creativity in it.
There’s being a wordsmith, being a visual designer, there is being someone that’s all about data and analytics and tracking stuff. And to kind of develop your career further. You need to have an understanding of the whole marketing mix. That doesn’t mean you have to be a world-class designer, writer, and data person because I don’t know, that’s too many things to be good at, but to have a basic understanding of the whole thing is really important.
It’s a full ecosystem. So understanding it all because nothing works on its own, it’s all linked in together.
So if you’re writing an ad and designing one that’s going there, that needs to be tracked through and have a landing page and have this so the web team needs to be involved. Everyone needs to be involved in everything, and transparency is so important don’t get all like Gollum with the ring-like just share it around. I don’t know why I had to go Lord of the Rings and now apparently a useful metaphor.
If you don’t know who Gollum is – have a pause, have a Google.
No, I think that’s really useful and I think like you say it.
Marketing has lots of other terms is a big umbrella for lots of different strands within and I think when I was at university I was like, I’m going to do marketing, I didn’t really understand what it was, it just sounded out of all the graduate schemes that were being thrown my way, in terms of adverts. It just sounds like the most creative and the most interesting you know rather than finance or whatever but actually taking the time to understand the different elements and research is really, really useful.
And you’ve worked within marketing a lot within the tech world. And you said that you’re quite passionate about diversity, The tech sector in particular needs more diversity.
What have your experiences been like, and sort of what’s led you to that belief.
And it’s not like a local thing that there needs to be more diversity in tech like it’s, it’s definitely worldwide and Cornwall, on the whole, isn’t particularly diverse.
But there’s a lot of tech going on here. And by diversity, I mean, gender, I mean age, I mean race, I mean socio-economic, background like everything,
If we just have a bunch of white middle-class men working in the room, creating a product, it’s not going to work for everybody. There are some really interesting books on the subject, there’s one called technically wrong.
I can’t remember the author now which I’m really sorry about but it’s about how biased algorithms and how much of a problem it is for us go further in the world,
I did a talk about it once and I think I went as far as to say it’s going to be the end of the world, which is quite dramatic, but potentially it could be with AI and great bias programmes and software – it is dangerous for everybody and it’s not going to work.
And a really small example I saw on Twitter this week. You know you put your name in something when you’re registering, and it was that this one person that couldn’t because her next name is Wu.and the program said two letters is too short for a name, you can’t have it. And, you know, if there was a more diverse team, they might have noticed that that’s a problem and that people do have short surnames, so it’s just stuff like that your user experiences, as well if you’re not kind of prepared for every kind of user case.
And in Cornwall, there’s definitely a lot more we can do, for diversity as well.
And a lot of it goes to education and getting in to get them young, but teaching young girls in particular that they can have careers in tech and that they can have rewarding careers locally that pay really good money.
And TECgirls has been founded quite recently and they’re definitely worth checking out. They are creating a magazine for six to 12 year old girls, encouraging them to do tech.
I have an eight year old daughter, and she is loving programming on scratch because it’s like drag and drop interface so it makes it fun and they understand it but they’re actually learning how to do programming, as well.
So it’s just explaining that these opportunities are there. If they want them. And again, like with tech like with marketing. There are so many roles. I do marketing but I still class myself as working in the tech industry.
And you can do graphics design and design for games and like UX and UI and like it’s just the whole sphere of what you can be doing.
And it’s rewarding and fun.
Yeah, no, it’s so true I saw a programme a long time, other than a primary school, and they gave all of the children, probably like a similar age like seven or eight Lego, and that they have to make different things out of the Lego and on the first day that they gave it to them. The girls in the class weren’t very good, because they hadn’t been given necessarily these types of toys to play with. But then my once they’ve had it for two weeks they were exactly the same point, as the boys and it was just about making sure that they have the opportunities to grow those kind of skills, and I think they’re saying it’s like logical skills and space or spatial awareness and all of that kind of thing. And I think you’re right. The earlier that you can kind of introduce it and I put a video up last week saying, I never got, like, introduced engineering and I was in like the top math set or they were my standard awful, because I don’t really use it.
But I never knew about engineering or anything like that because this whole STEM awareness wasn’t a thing when I was at school so it’s really, really important.
And getting away from like boy and girl things – that infuriates me.
And actually, Lego has explaining to do in my book because I love Lego and I love what it’s all about. But now, and they all come in these kits and they have pictures of the thing they have to make. They’re all like pink and flowery and like Barbie Lego and it’s like – well everyone likes building and can use their imaginations, it’s like there’s like they’re really pigeonholing girls. You must like this because it’s pink and girly and it’s a little.
Why not the normal Lego for everybody. It just seems they probably are trying to get girls into it but going too far the other way you know and, yeah, they’re not girls and boys toys they’re for everybody.
Yeah, yeah. Again it’s building those skills like if it hasn’t got pictures on your imagination can run wild and you can think about different things and, you know, we do have an imagination as well. Shock Horror. From a young age. Don’t be afraid.
So, during this new normal the pandemic everything like that. You founded your own agency Kraken Marketing which has amazing branding and I’ll put the link below. And what’s that been like and what was kind of your journey to founding your own business.
Oh, it’s been weird because it’s been a long time coming but also now was definitely the right time. Which seems ridiculous in a global pandemic to start your own business.
And if someone had suggested that to me I’d be like ha, no.
But I did, and it’s been really successful.
And a lot of the work I’ve gotten has been from networking in Cornwall’s so like do it guys! Even if you don’t start your business for like another four years there are people I knew from mine that have approached me about working with them so it works. Make yourself. put yourself in those painful positions,
So I’m primarily working with tech companies, which I love because I love the really geeky content and getting to translate that to non-techie people, but some exciting stuff happening like the world isn’t slowing down that much. I’m sorry that sounds really ignorant. I know a lot of industries have been really suffering.
Tech seems to be going really well so it was a good area for business at the moment.
Because it’s lovely to be myself and be weird with my brands and have a full gothy website of my dreams, but I don’t. None of my clients are like that so don’t worry if you want to work for me I’m not gonna make you go gothy. You can keep your bright colours and beautiful It’s like,
But yeah I love it and I’m loving working with so many different people. I’m like long term projects so I’m working with lots of fun people and getting to my works really diverse so every day I’m doing something really different which is really fun.
I said all that, and I didn’t touch on the fact that my daughter’s been home for all of the lockdown as well so trying to launch your business whilst being a single parent and trying to homeschool has been interesting. I’m not gonna lie.
By the end of it, the homeschooling was kind of doing scratch programming on the computer and watching science experiments on YouTube with the things that we could do without there being tears on both sides. So I praise every teacher in the world because I am not a teacher.
My daughter’s very glad I’m not because it wasn’t great.
Children doing kind of content plans and social media is good to learn by the end, helping out the family business.
Hang on, I totally missed the trick.
Okay. My final question to everyone is, what are you proudest of so far in your career.
Oh, wow. Okay.
There are a few things can I say a few things or is that really conceited?
You can speak for an hour about what your proudest of, that’s what the channel is all about. Most people struggle to answer the question.
A few things. I try and practise gratitude a lot and like vocalise to myself things I’m grateful for, and then kind of pick myself up on things like before when I said I’ve been lucky.
I’m not lucky, I work hard – so it’s something I try and do because I am so self-deprecating as a person naturally so I have to regularly big myself up.
I was awarded the Young Business Person of the Year in 2017. And I was really proud of that. That was at the Cornwall Business Awards. And I’d been a finalist like two years before and not won, so actually winning it was like, yeah! Setting up my business, and it working straight away, whilst being at home with my daughter, but actually just managing to have a career was being a single parent.
In Cornwall, like I’m really proud I’ve made it work and she’s really happy and a good kid.
I’ve managed to still get a career and be a good role model for her and its something for her to look up to, while still being challenged and growing and developing
So, yeah, external recognition, not gonna lie, love it, give me all the awards, please.
But also, just the knowledge that You know, there’ve been a few adversities in my path but managing to keep, keep going, and get to a good place.
I think all of those things are amazing things to be proud of. And you should be. I think more beautiful to practice like you say saying what they’re grateful for and saying what they’ve achieved and, and often talk about perhaps writing stuff down, so that you don’t forget what you’ve done because sometimes life goes quickly and you think I’m not done that much and you can look back at sort of a physical record of what you’ve done and then be surprised about it so yeah i think that’s phenomenal and as I say, especially in a global pandemic with everything to have a successful business, and that’s just, Just fantastic and I’m so pleased for you. And I hope that you continue to go from strength to strength and, and just want to say a massive thank you so much for coming on the channel.
Thank you so much for having me. I’m really pleased to be here, and your channels doing some awesome stuff and I look forward to watching all the videos so I’ve got one to look forward to with me.
I hope you enjoyed that video. It was really great to hear about her journey into finding marketing, the tech sector, and to now setting up Kraken Marketing. If you know someone or you’d like to be interviewed on the channel please send me a message, follow us on Twitter and Instagram at work better you hit the thumbs up, hit the subscribe button, hit the notification bell to not miss anything else. If you want to view this video as a podcast. The link to that is below. Have a lovely week.