Orange Aid - The Man Who’s Putting The Fizz Into Web Site Design
The last almost eighteen months have been a kind of acid test for business people. I have been impressed by how resilient and innovative many entrepreneurs have had to be in responding to Covid 19. From consultants conducting zoom meetings to restaurants delivering take out food and all the other ideas in-between.
What happens though when your main business is mixing music, playing to live audiences and the fixtures in your bookings book are tripping over one another with gigs for students' discos and wedding parties where, let’s face it, part of the fun is getting up close and personal. This was the mainstay of Steven Helliwell’s DJing business. On the 16th March 2020 when Matt Hancock announced that all unnecessary proximity had to halt and that for now, the party was over, the then 27-year-old Steven Helliwell had to think on his feet.
Steven explains: “When the music suddenly stopped, I was shocked and thought ‘What now?”
As it played out - after Steven got the red light from the government - he saw orange and wasted no time in calling on his other training and skill - digital creative media marketing. That was when he set up Huddersfield’s Orange Media. As Steven explains this to me, I think of this moment in his career like the traffic light sequencing, and happily he has now passed through the green light and is looking forward to the road ahead.
Steven says “Without the pandemic I would not have focused on my other skill which is digital marketing and web-design. I had gained a degree in Interactive Multimedia at the University of Huddersfield and this was clearly the moment for digital communication. I am now able to help a wide array of businesses improve their online presence and it has raised the game up a notch.
"I knew that building up a business at this time was not going to be a walk in the park and there was a palpable mood to reach out and help one another. I recognised there were charity organisations out there supporting people for whom the pandemic could have a devastating impact on their lives.
"I’ve enjoyed helping launch Rhubarb Smoothies Radio, the West-Yorkshire based easy-listening radio station. Music and quality radio have been really important in helping people feel connected and their mix of smooth listening was apt for the times."
I also offered my design work for free to a mental health charity that caught my attention - WarriorKind. This is a charity established by a woman called Sarah Drage who had endured her father’s death through alcoholism. Sarah had written a poignant and shocking article for the Telegraph, when she admitted that her father’s death from alcoholism felt like a release.
Sarah says of Steven: "I met Steven in a networking group where I asked for help to grow our mental health charitable organisation WarriorKind. Funding for the charity/community sector has been greatly impacted due to the pandemic.
"Steve didn’t hesitate , he contacted me immediately offering his graphic design and search engine optimisation expertise. Steve explained that the better our reach means the more people we can support.
"Establishing a charity takes an army of talented and passionate individuals - without people like Steve offering their skills for free - then we wouldn’t be in the position we are now.”
Steven says: "I have forged a good working relationship with some other talented communicators and business owners and this episode has stretched me. In the early stages of the pandemic people naturally retrenched and it was difficult to move business along - but I am seeing movement now. I am doing more consultancy for web development than ever, and this includes some interesting startups. I haven’t jettisoned my club nights and I have brought in a new business partner for that aspect of the business - but creating my digital graphics marketing company is a new stretch and I am enjoying the development process."
As for how I came to know Steven, I was introduced to him by a school friend who had hired him to fine-tune a brand identity and develop a website for her health insurance business. I was impressed with the work and called upon him for my own branding.
I am from a press background and could be accused of being a better customer to my local stationers than to Facebook and the Apple store but none the less, there is room for traditional and digital talents in the marketing mix. Steven came over to Ripon to meet me as I had asked him to design a brand to market my own writing. He nailed it and secured the brand for me.
My lesson in this experience is one of putting the right mix of people together.
For Steven Helliwell’s business the future looks a mix of orange and red which I suppose could be described as a kind of peachie.