How we helped Helen be more flexible during lockdown.

This month we had the pleasure of working with Helen Duggan of HD Core & More, a Pilates instructor with a growing business initially launched in 2019. Like all of us, word of mouth is our most powerful marketing tool and she came to us via recommendation from Carla at By Twig designs.
Helen has had to roll with the punches over the last 12 months adapting to deliver her classes online, so thought we’d share not only how Carla and ourselves have helped Helen with branding, clothing and a new online shop but also a bit more about Helen and how she’s navigated lockdown.

Hi Helen, obviously in the current climate streamed and online fitness is huge, how have you and more importantly your members found the transition? What challenges have you found to overcome?

Zoom has obviously been a major godsend! Incredible to think I hadn’t even heard of it in February last year and now it’s the most commonly used word in my vocabulary!
Some clients had reservations about joining in the online classes and I can totally understand that but many have adapted really quickly and it has become a huge part of their lives. I offer live and recorded sessions so the classes suit those who want accountability of having a set day/time or those who prefer doing it when fits in with their busy work/family schedule. More remarkably, the zoom classes are not just for the younger clients, I have clients in their 80s and 90’s signing up every month who can now more easily access the classes without the potential transport issues around normal, in person classes. It’s incredible! 

Thanks for dropping in Carla. We’ve obviously known each other for a little while, and great to hear you’re so busy. Just wondering when it came to working on Helen’s branding, how did you approach it?

Helen was keen to invest in a logo, I think as a new business she knew that a clear, singular identity would give her the confidence to promote her classes as a recognisable brand. We first got together for a coffee and a bit of a discovery session where we discussed what I consider to be key starting points, namely what name she would be using, who her ideal client was, where the logo would be used and what colours and style she preferred around which I worked on developing three options for her.

Glad you asked about where the logo would be used, it’s definitely one of our pet peeves as such when people make a design without considering the difference between onscreen and in print, especially. Can you just outline the main considerations when people approach their logo design around the different mediums?

Oh yes, I always take into consideration that a logo will be used at a range of different sizes and formats, that is why my style tends to lean towards being contemporary and simple. Less is more after all. Often I’ll see a logo which has had to be shrunk down to fit a space, but then text and images are near impossible to read or see. I always ask my clients where they plan to use the logo before I start designing and certainly thin lines and handwritten fonts are very popular and may look beautiful, but they don’t usually translate well into things like embroidery.

That’s brilliant, thanks… Helen said you then came back with a set of three proofs, how did it pan out from there?

Helen liked them all but immediately fell in love with the free-flowing movement of the hd you see in her logo. The lettering as it appears is actually hand drawn to look like pilates movements, which I’m really pleased is easily recognisable but subtle too. Anyone who’s met Helen will know the informal, friendly styling absolutely suits her and her personality to the ground! She was keen to use neutral grey as it is her preferred colour and the pop of orange added the fun and warmth, as most colours on the red/orange colour wheels would have.
I’m so pleased it is still a logo that Helen likes, she has worked hard to establish her brand and the clothing is the icing on the cake!

Helen, obviously as we’ve talked about we love the simple but clever design she did for you which reminded me and Adam of when we could also do sit-ups, but can you tell us briefly about working with Carla and how you feel about your overall branding?

I absolutely LOVE the branding Carla did for me. I have a tendency to get bored with things quite quickly but I still love the logo and everything she does for me. Carla took the leap from employed to self-employed so totally understands the worries, the financial limitations that you have as a new “one man band”. She is always keen to advise, brainstorm and offer opinions when asked and also joins in the odd pilates class! If it wasn’t for Carla, I certainly wouldn’t be ‘zooming’ now, she gave me the encouragement and technical assistance I needed and the rest is history!

As business owners, we’ve just installed WhatsApp for Business which seems a brilliant service, have you found any particular service, app or business to have been a massive help to you during these weird COVID times, or in general which you’d recommend?

Other than Zoom, I have only used facebook which has been integral to my business for promoting my classes and more recently Instagram. The sporting community can be very active and supportive I’ve found so touch wood been a really nice natural growth to business. Instagram is packed full of businesses and people in the fitness and health space so for me it’s essentialI know you use Hootsuite as a tool to post across different platforms which I might look at, but at the moment I’m just posting on each site as I need to. Either way for me it’s word of mouth all the way!
Facebook has also been invaluable for our private online client group which has encouraged lots of interaction and generally been quite uplifting in this difficult period. I did pay for some Facebook advertising once, but it didn’t really make any difference for us, and equally I know Carla is big on networking groups and you and Adam have BNI but again I’m not sure if it would be a good fit for me…. But maybe something to think about for later in the year, not sure what others in the fitness and exercise industry has found?

One of the pages off Helen’s shop with multiple angles of the garments, zoom function and all the variables listed by size and decoration.

It was great helping you chose some quality gear for your clothing which I think everyone would agree look great. One of our challenges sometimes is people being unfamiliar with certain brands we supply when they might only shop on the high street where everything is labelled up for a specific shop. How have you found the garments you and Adam picked out from the possible range? How do you feel it compares to off the peg, high street clothes in terms of price point and quality?

I like the fact that you offer a range of prices and qualities. Sports minded people generally are willing to pay a little bit more but for quality particularly when sports clothing is used a lot and subject to lots of washing and the products we chose are spot on and clearly better than most the stuff off the highstreet.

Obviously, I think it was the initial phone call with me (Matt) was when we floated the idea of the online shop. What were your initial thoughts about it as an option, both good and perhaps sceptical ones?

I had held back from the branded clothing side as the options that I had been previously given mean I would be forced to buy a number of items in bulk as stock in various sizes and just couldn’t take that risk that I wouldn’t be able to sell it. The option that was available with Ipswich Print and Embroidery took all the worrying away of sizing, ordering, dispatching, one click of a button and it’s all done for you. As a result you can extend your range giving your client a wider range to choose from, without the risk of financial layout and also storage…………just brilliant!

Now it’s in place and up and running how do you feel it’s matched up with those initial thoughts? Hopefully better than expected?

Undoubtedly better! I am absolutely delighted with the shop interface, it looks amazing and being a technophobe it has taken all the worries away and removed me from the ordering and management process so I just need to sit back and watch the order confirmations come in!

Clearly 99% of us are manic busy at the moment, juggling family life and work, all in the context of lockdown restrictions, but to anyone out there who’s perhaps thinking “I’d love to have the same setup, but I don’t have the time to get it sorted”, how hard or time consuming did you find it working with Matt and Adam to get the shop up and running? What did you find the most time consuming or challenging aspect to it?

I haven’t found it hard AT ALL… biggest challenge was trying to select the items of clothing I wanted to add to the shop out of your extensive range. You certainly take the pressure from doing it all on your own, and having to take a gamble on what would be popular! So I’m glad I’m local and could come down to your unit and see the garments before having to make a decision! Equally, I’d not seen it before but I really like the program you have which sent the digital proofs over with your T’sand C’s too. It was good to have all the images in one place where I could electronically approve and sign them off.

Lastly with Boris announcing his latest road map to recovery (Lord help us all!) and measures stretching to June time, it’s going to be interesting to see how 2021 unfolds. Seeing everything you’ve learned about your customers and business, what do you think the plan for HD Core & More is going forwards?

It’s a difficult one as some of my clients are not local and I don’t want to lose them. Also I think that people’s mentality has changed during lockdown and whilst some people have really missed the gym and interactive sports environments, lots of people have enjoyed the freedom and flexibility that online classes offer, especially my recorded, on demand classes.I have put a poll out to clients to establish what their preference is once lockdown has lifted but I am thinking that I will offer a balance of both. I will do more outdoor classes in the summer and also increase the 1:1 training that a lot of people are asking for to make sure they haven’t got into bad habits during lockdown.I definitely feel lockdown has made people reevaluate their lives and many more people are willing to invest the time and money, often saved now by not having to commute, into their personal wellbeing so I think the personal training and coaching side of the business will definitely only continue to grow.

What we delivered for Helen, in a nutshell!

1 – Extensive choice of clothes from pure performance and sports wear through to more casual and workwear garment. Helen opted for heat applied vinyl which is a more flexible choice for performance and sports clothing, compared to embroidery.

2 – Free online shop facility. Hosted completely free, with no commission or percentage charged. We agree a cost of manufacture and Helen dictates the final price to customers.

3 – Complete hands off sales process from start to finish – We deal with all ordering, shipping, payments and returns/refunds.

Helen doing things Matt and Adam can’t do without the requirements of 5 men strong of back and an agricultural winch system

If you’ve worked with Matt and Adam and think you’ve got something interesting you could share with our subscribers then please get in touch and let us know!

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