Continuing with our series of Member Spotlights, we welcome Colin Grist from Few and Far. This is an inspiring and familiar story of someone who came from a large agency background who wanted to spread their wings and make a real impact. Colin and his co-founder Thomas launched their creative agency in 2018 and made it their pledge to collaborate with charities. They’ve worked pro bono charity campaigns that drove such great results that it naturally led to paid work to make an even bigger impact. Enjoy this Q&A where we get to know Colin and Few and Far better…
Tell us about yourself and your company…when were you founded? Where did you get the idea for your company?
I’m Col, 37, and co-founder of a creative studio based in Leeds called Few and Far. We started in 2018 and work specifically in the third sector, helping charities to make more of an impact online.
When we started, we had both come from large agency backgrounds and found that although we were producing great work, we weren’t having an opportunity to work alongside – or even speak with – the clients we were helping.
We wanted to start something small, where the team can have a voice. A place where we can hire great people who do great work, with a philosophy of ensuring we collaborate closely with the people we help, therefore ensuring the work we produce is the best it can possibly be and that it makes the biggest impact it can for our partners – and Few and Far was established.
I had already been freelancing for around 18 months at the time and my life dream was to always start my own agency and I knew that I wanted to start it with someone who could have complimentary skills and the same drive as me to make it happen.
That person was Thomas, who I invited out for a casual drink and instead ended up presenting him with a 107 page slide deck(!) about the vision for my agency, how I saw it working with us both and how I wanted us to make a difference in the world. He quit his job four months later and we got to work.
We’ve been profitable since the day we started and we never received any funding or start up help which is something I’m quite proud of. We’ve managed to successfully navigate the first year of a business, and then the pandemic, which has pretty much been ongoing ever since year two for us.
Describe your lightbulb moment at which point you knew your venture might actually become a success.
The lightbulb moment for me, was actually only about 18 months ago.
Although the agency is now four years old, year one was all about proving to ourselves we could make the business work, and year two and most of year three was all about navigating a pandemic.
In my previous roles I was lucky enough to work with many great charities, from WaterAid to Blue Cross to NSPCC and Cancer Research UK – I always wanted to try and get back to working with these types of good causes if we ever had the chance.
We were asked if we would help a local homeless charity called St. George’s Crypt to create a new website for them. We offered to do the work pro bono and found that 12 months later their online donations had increased 5x compared to their previous year.
We then provided the charity with a paid project – which was a timeline creative piece to celebrate 90 years of the charity. This project provided them with a 10x increase at Christmas compared to their previous year campaign – within the pandemic.
These results really resonated with us and made us realise that our branding, website and creative work could really make a difference to charities and the great stories they have to tell. Ever since that we’ve pivoted entirely to trying to help charities and do-good causes as much as possible.
What are you most passionate about in business? How do you continue to challenge yourself?
Helping good causes make an even bigger impact. If we find the right collaborations where charities believe in the work and the difference we can make it’s genuinely been magical. The work we create has become award-winning, it has helped them increase their brand awareness, their online donations and everybody walks away really happy with the results.
Every new partnership is a new challenge. We take it upon ourselves to learn as much about their work, their problems and how we can help and because we are a small team, that relationship is the one thing we concentrate on from start to finish of their project.
Their objectives and what they want to achieve are a different challenge to solve every time and that’s what keeps us motivated and is what gets me out of bed in the morning.
What or who inspired you to establish your company?
I felt that because it was something I’d always wanted to do (ever since I was 16) and that I had worked at both small and very large agencies it was the natural next step for me. I didn’t want to get too old and look back with regrets about never trying to run my own agency.
Taking the leap from full-time employment to freelancing was actually a bigger jump for me than starting the agency as I felt like I was risking it all, whereas starting an agency and persuading someone else to join me felt much more comfortable due to my experiences and what I learned whilst working for myself.
I want to give a shout out to my wife Fearne as she’s always had my back and pushed me to go freelance when I was doubting myself. If I’d never have taken her advice and taken the leap Few and Far wouldn’t exist.
What was the best advice anyone ever gave you, and did you follow it?
“Go for it” – My wife pushing me when I decided I couldn’t do my full time job anymore and needed to take the leap into freelance. Few and Far and what it has become would never have happened without that experience and what I learned prior to starting the agency.
Who do you most admire and why?
I admire anyone who is giving up their time to good causes. I find it incredible that CEOs, Trustees, Charities, Foundations and volunteers give up so much of their lives in trying to make a difference to this big blue planet we all live on.
Their impact can sometimes feel small in the grand scheme of things but it all makes a difference and I believe that even small, positive changes can have a wider effect on how we all view things and help one another to make the world a better place.
We’re hoping the work we do can contribute in some small way to their overall impact and make a difference to their cause.
Thanks so much to Colin Grist from Few and Far for this insightful look into how they’re doing things differently and making their mark. If you’d like to feature in a future Member Spotlight, let us know in the Founders Hub Slack.