Continuing my series where I interview small business owners, we meet Chris Bayles from Mint Sauce Media. I discovered the design agency through a networking event in York and not long after that they created my logo for me. Fun to work with, they made it all very straightforward and it was a speedy result, one which I am very pleased with.
Passion and Creativity feature strongly as a theme on the Mint Sauce Media website – and the theme continues throughout the interview with Chris. I loved hearing more from him about how he started Mint Sauce Media, Chris’ inspiration, and above all seeing his obvious passion for what he does.
First of all, how do you describe your business to your friends?
They describe it to me! – “You draw pretty pictures all day’
There’s obviously a bit more to it than that, but they’re not far wrong. They realise I’m lucky enough to be doing my dream job.
How long is it since you started Mint Sauce Media?
I started out as a freelancer 8 years ago, and have grown steadily over the years. I felt the time was right to start a bigger business offering more services, so I partnered up with my fiancé Jennet at the start of this year, brought a few people on board and Mint Sauce Media was born.
Where are you located?
We are based at Clifton Moor in York.
What inspired you to start your business?
I have always been interested in design, and have worked as a Graphic Designer for over 24 years. I realised there seemed to be a gap between agencies charging a fortune for great design, and cheap companies charging next to nothing for awful design and websites. So I wanted to provide a service that offered companies agency standard work but without the agency standard price tag. One company I worked for charged their client £75 to change a couple of words in a paragraph. That’s daylight robbery.
I also like being involved in all aspects of a project, from meeting the client to delivering the final artwork. It’s nice to get to know your clients and find out more about them and their business. When I was working for design companies it often felt like a conveyor belt of job after job so I never had the chance to immerse myself in who they were and what they were about. Whereas I now have the freedom to do this and as such, feel I can do a much better job.
What problem do you solve for your customers?
We help them to stand out.
We aim to help our clients grow through strategic and beautiful design. Maybe certain clients are struggling to be found or finding it hard to drum up more business. We can’t stress the importance of looking professional enough! Mint Sauce Media ensures they have a strong web presence that works for their business. So we don’t just develop bespoke, strategic websites that rank highly on search engines, but we make them look pretty too. We also back this up with beautifully designed marketing materials and anything else they may need designing and printing.
“Creativity is our forte, and it shows in our work”
Logo design for York Dance Works
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Without a doubt, pleasing my clients. Every project I undertake, whether large or small is important to me, and I’ll put my all into creating something they will be more than pleased with. To see their positive reactions and comments on social media gives me a huge buzz!
What’s the biggest frustration with working for yourself?
I’m very lucky in that I work with wonderful clients that I get on with very well. Every so often however, somebody will come to me wanting a new brand identity. I’ll spend hours on this, send over the artwork, then never hear from them again, despite several emails.
Fortunately, this doesn’t happen often, but I find it very unfair that companies can do this, especially to fellow small businesses.
What does your usual work day look like?
I look forward to each day, as I never know what it’s going to bring. Firstly I answer my emails, then I dive straight into my web/design work. I love what I do, so I can’t wait to get started.
It’s great to have the freedom to nip out if I need a break, or a bit of inspiration. It’s very usual for me to work late into the evenings, but I don’t watch a lot of television, so I may as well be productive!
What are you working on right now?
I am currently working on a website for a café, and also some branding work for a Mexican restaurant and an Outdoor Activity Company.
There’s lots of web work and branding coming in at the minute which is fabulous as I really enjoy it.
What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own business?
If you are in a position to be able to do this, then do it. The freedom you have to build your dream and watch it grow is great and gives you a real feeling of satisfaction.
It requires a lot of hard work and dedication, but if you believe in what you are doing and are motivated, you will find the hard work and dedication comes naturally. I was very lucky that my fiancé and business partner Jen was able to support me during the leaner times, and it’s thanks to her that I have been able to do this.
What is your favourite product that you sell?
Websites. These are your companies ‘shop window’ and are often the first impression you make on a potential client. We can make websites do almost anything you want and the technology and interactivity make websites very interesting to work on.
Have you learnt anything new about yourself since you started running your own business?
Above all, I’m more disorganised than I thought I was!
If a celebrity was going to buy from you, who would you like it to be and why?
I’m not big into celebrities, but anybody with a sense of humour who’s a bit of fun. I love working with people who you can have a bit of a joke with.
Failing that, I’m always shocked by the quality of the design work shown on The Apprentice. I don’t know which agencies do their design but it’s just awful. It would be nice to show Sir Alan, or Lord Sugar or whatever he is known as now, what good design looks like!
Do you have a nickname?
Just my surname – ‘Baylesy’
Do you have a favourite food?
Anything spicy. It’s between Thai and Indian, but I think Thai just edges it!
What was your first ever job? What did you learn from it?
I worked in a greeting card factory doing all the menial jobs. I learnt absolutely nothing.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
A Graphic Designer
What is your favourite brand and why?
I’d probably say Nike for this, purely because of the simplicity of the logo and what It represents. The swoosh can be used on its own and it is instantly recognisable.
What is your favourite song?
“I am the resurrection” by the Stone Roses
Do you have any pet hates?
Unpunctuality. If you agree a time, be there 5 minutes early or on time.
If I gave you an extra day in the week, what would you do with it?
Have a day off!
Who would play you in a movie about your life?
Simon Pegg – purely because I get likened to him. Blonde with a sense of humour.
Looks wise, maybe someone like Brad Pitt? (only kidding!)
Weirdest thing you’ve been asked recently?
Who would play you in a movie about your life?
Finally, what else should I know about you?
That I’m a thoroughly nice chap who’s very easy to work with! I care about the work I do and will always give my all.
I started this blog by referring to Chris’ passion for what he does, a passion that comes through clearly in his answers. For small business owners, the passion for what we do is everything. We often work long hours, we must skill ourselves to complete tasks that are outside our comfort zone and our interests, and we’re often doing it alone. Therefore positive feedback from customers, a satisfaction in a job well done, and the variety and flexibility in our work are often the motivators. But without the passion, the spark of a business will soon fizzle out. Chris’ passion for good creative design is backed up by his genuine interest and care for the client and their business – something that I believe sets Mint Sauce Media apart from your average design agency.
So, are you clear on what is driving you and your business? How does it differentiate you from the average? Are you consistently communicating this to your potential clients? This is something I can help with so if you need clarity in any of these areas and would like to chat about working with me please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org