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By Fi or Becs, Dec 29 2016 11:00AM

Chatter from Becs:

This year has been a real shocker. I don’t mean a shocker in the sense of being dreadful, atrocious or appalling (although I’m sure many people may actually agree with those sentiments…) I’m simply referring to the huge unexpected events that dominated the news in 2016.

It feels like we’ve had a year of newsworthy BOO moments. From the UK surprisingly opting for Brexit, to the USA trumping our EU departure with their own political shockwave in the shape of The Donald – the unexpected arose, the unlikely actually occurred and some very-important-people were forced to eat their hats. Twice.

The shockers even continued on TV. We had the amusingly delightful Ed Balls wiggling his flat footed way through to Strictly’s week 10, the baffling Honey G being offered a recording contract with Simon Cowell (!) and a genuinely lovely business person Alana winning the Apprentice for once (hooray to nice people finishing first!).

Sadly, 2016 was also a shock year for losing great people. It feels like we woke to sad news far too often with many well-loved personalities passing away including Terry Wogan, David Bowie, Prince, George Michael, Carrie Fisher and Paul Daniels. Closer to home, my own accidental apprentice adventure was certainly unexpected!

Last December I assumed that 2016 would be full of: working, being a mum and probably trying to convince my husband to have another baby. Instead… I applied to The Apprentice in January and the last 12 months have been an incredible (at times absurd) rollercoaster. It just goes to show - you really never know what is going to happen.

My Nan used to say ‘que sera, sera- whatever will be, will be'. While all these big newsworthy things are happening around us, focus on your own little life and try to make your own future happen the way you want to. If you’ve had a rubbish 2016, make sure you try to like 2017 a little bit better. As the lovable Paul Daniel’s used to say "You'll like this ... not a lot, but you'll like it".

By Fi or Becs, Dec 16 2016 10:00AM

Chatter from Becs:

Hands up if you love Christmas pudding, hands up if you hate broccoli… hands up if you’re EXCITED FOR CHRISTMAS! This is the endless game that my four year old likes playing at the moment. Needless to say I am required to put my hand up. Frequently.

Like many other households this month, the crazy Christmas excitement is reaching fever-pitch in our home. Sleeps are being counted, advent calendars are pounced upon first thing in the morning (we even have one for the dog!?) and letters have been scribbled to Father Christmas. While the kids are going doolally, the parents are wishing they had never bought that bloody Elf on a Shelf (otherwise known as “you do the sodding Elf tonight”) and planning their childcare plans over the holiday period. If you’re not lucky enough to have helpful grandparents within each reach, juggling work with childcare plus Christmas is the standard festive reality for many families during December.

Three years into running our business my sister and I have wised up to the horror of trying to work through Christmas with our excitable kids around. After going slightly mental in year one, we decided to do a Christmas shut-down in year two and we’re repeating the same plan for a fortnight in year three. It’s honestly the only way that we can all stay sane.

The other day MPs debated whether to force UK shops to close on Boxing Day. I watched the debate online with a starry-eyed glimmer of Christmas hope for all the parents working in retail who might get their own slice of shut-down sanity too. Alas, our Government decided that it wasn’t its place to ban shops from opening on the 26th of December. Shame.

Back to Ollie’s hands up game… hell yes I love Christmas pudding. I disagree about broccoli, (just wait until he spots the Brussels sprout…) and as for Christmas excitement – just imagine the millions of retail workers with their hands up if they didn’t have to work on Boxing Day. We all know what would have happened if this was Miracle on 34th Street.

By Fi or Becs, Dec 7 2016 04:21PM

Who doesn't love some naughty novelty items during the season of silliness...

Following on from the popularity of our Fi & Becs client lollies last Christmas, this year we decided to order some slightly different lollipop designs. Amusing ourselves by deciding to print 'NOT A TWAT' onto 100 lollies (and 100 less offensive 'Merry Christmas' designs too) we were delighted to suddenly get flooded by tweets, emails and messages from people asking to buy our NOT A TWAT lollies online!

So... on Sunday afternoon Fi sat with a cup of tea and we launched an online shop on our website! (closed now!) Alongside the tasty, apple flavoured NOT A TWAT lollies she added some splendid novelty mugs and her wonderful series of children's books (obvs). Online shop - ta da!

NOT A TWAT Lollipops

PRICE: 1 Lollipop £3.50 / 5 Lollipops £15.00

Delight your twat-free friends, family or colleagues with these exceptionally tasty NOT A TWAT lollies.

Each lolly is 5cm in diameter, apple flavoured and handmade in the UK. Available as a single lolly or in a collection of five, every lolly is individually wrapped and presented with a bow. Enjoy 5cm of deliciously tasty, apple flavoured non-twattish delight.


PRICE: £9.50

Prove to your family, friends and colleagues that you're NOT A TWAT by drinking your cuppa from one of these amusing mugs. These mugs make a great gift (especially for those annoying work-based Secret Santas) or you can treat yourself for amusing brew moments all day long. Perfect for boring board meetings or conversation starters over a cuppa.

By Fi or Becs, Dec 1 2016 04:28PM

Becs' old university (the lovely University of Nottingham) asked her to put together a 'Day in the Life' vlog for them... and here it is!

Becs did a degree in American and Canadian Studies at Nottingham University and she bloody loved it. She spent four years studying American history, US politics and reading fascinating novels. She even got to spend a year studying at Toronto University in Canada which was pretty amazing - although very very cold.

Becs firmly believes that all the researching, reading and writing she did during her degree led to her copywriting career... so sod all of those people who think arts degrees don't lead to jobs in business!

Enjoy watching the video!

By Fi or Becs, Dec 1 2016 08:00AM

Chatter from Becs:

Cumbria is an entrepreneurial county: discuss.

My opening sentence sounds like an essay question from a business studies GCSE. Well, I wouldn’t actually know because I didn’t do business studies at school (though I wish I had) but I do think it’s an interesting topic.

Ever since I started my business with my sister, people have asked me ‘why did you do that?’. I’m never entirely sure whether they think I’m crazy for working with a family member, or they don’t understand why I quit a steady nine-to-five job to enter the uncertainty of self-employment, but my answer is always the same – I just thought it was normal.

As a kid growing up in Lamplugh I thought it was standard for parents to run their own businesses. My dad was (and still is) a self-employed accountant who worked at home every evening and my friends’ parents were farmers, butchers, ran B&Bs and owned shops. Ten-year-old me assumed it was commonplace for people to run businesses.

Fast forward 21 years and in Greater Manchester my self-employment is the minority. Most of our neighbours and friends work for big businesses, in schools or for the NHS.

Last week, I was excited to be invited to my old school in Keswick to talk about my career, starting my business and (of course) The Apprentice. I decided to test my theory about Cumbria being particularly entrepreneurial. I asked 150 teenagers if they thought they would work for a big company in an office when they grew up. Fewer than 10 hands were raised.This surprised and impressed me. I had asked the same question a week before at a school in Manchester and over half the room had put their hands up.

The difference? Maybe the Keswick School pupils are lucky enough to grow up in Cumbria and see more family-run or independent businesses instead of big chains and corporations? I might be totally wrong, but I know that growing up in Cumbria hugely influenced my career path. Here’s to Cumbria – maybe all that rain grows good entrepreneurs.

By Fi or Becs, Nov 21 2016 05:26PM

Unless you've been living under a rock for the last couple of weeks, you may have noticed that Becs has just been fired on The Apprentice. Drat.

Becs lost every task, her performance was pretty useless, she got fired in week six and then (much to our amusement) in the famous apprentice black cab she managed to say the word 'twat' twice... on the BBC.

We've mentioned the 'twat thing' a couple of times (okay, maybe a few dozen times...) on our social media, she's been on TV and radio chattering about it and there have been some pretty good articles about twattishness in the press.

One of our favourite t-word articles so far is this one written by We loved it so much that we thought we would post it onto our website...

Twats. We’ve all met them and, in some unfortunate cases, we’ve even ended up working alongside them.

But have you ever wondered what makes a co-worker a twat and how best to avoid the same dreaded four-letter label? The Apprentice’s Rebecca Jeffery has.

The latest casualty in Lord Sugar’s search for a business partner, the freelance copywriter and co-founder of Fi & Becs Design & Marketing signed off from the show with the admission that she probably would have got further “if she had been a twat”.

Now a little less flustered and, as she admits, “slightly relieved” to be out of the process (“it shows people at their worst,” Rebecca reflects) the marketing maestro tried to explain to loaded what makes someone a twat in the modern business world.

“When I think of the word twat, I think of the word obnoxious. Someone that is a bit argumentative and a little bit grumpy,” she explains.

“I was never specifically calling anyone on the show a twat – I’m aware a lot of people will have sat on their sofas and called people on the show twats before – but I did leave feeling like I might have got further if I had been one.”

So how do you avoid being a twat in the workplace? Well, Jeffery offered a few helpful pointers actually…

Twat Avoidance Tip Number 1 - Don’t Shout

“I’m not a shouter and behaving like that will only get you so far in the Apprentice and in life.”

Twat Avoidance Tip Number 2 - Stay Calm

"Lord Sugar likes people who are level headed. That’s probably stayed in the process as long as I did. Try to remember that it’s work and not life or death.”

Twat Avoidance Tip Number 3 - Don't Take It Personally

“In The Apprentice, as in the workplace, you are trying to make friends and develop relationships. The problem is that in the boardroom you have to pull each other apart.The key on the show was to leave those arguments at the door. Don’t harbor bad feelings and try to support each other.”

Twat Avoidance Tip Number 4 - Be Nice

“Remember that people like you if you are nice. We as humans, in life, like people that are nice. We’re British. We like politeness, we like queues and we like niceness.”

Twat Avoidance Tip Number 5 - Avoid Buzzwords

“Never use terms like ‘thinking outside the box’ or ‘I’d like to touch base’ and avoid that ‘important’ tag on your email – that big red tag at says something is very important – it’s annoying.”

Twat Avoidance Tip Number 6 - Client Care

“Never refer to a person or potential client as a “Warm” lead or a “hot” lead they are not a ‘lead’ they are a client or a person.”

By Fi or Becs, Nov 15 2016 09:00PM

Chatter from Becs:

Last week Alan Sugar fired me on national TV. I guess there aren’t many people in the UK who are able to say that. The whole experience has been incredible, but the truth is - I applied to The Apprentice on a whim.

Last New Year’s Eve, I was chatting to my brother in law (who is a brain surgeon and would probably be amazing on the show) and in our wine induced wisdom we decided that I would be an excellent candidate on the programme… famous last words. So in January, on the day before the applications closed I casually applied. Four months, three auditions, a screen test, a psychological interview and 40,000 candidates later I was offered a place on the show. Flabbergasted is the word.

I got the call from the production team on a Wednesday afternoon whilst looking after my three-year-old son. My phone rang, I promptly bribed Ollie to stay quiet with a DVD and a packet of Quavers (standard parent tactics) and I danced around the room in excitement and genuine amazement. In the auditions I wasn’t the typical Apprentice buffoon. Rather than spouting insane Trump-esque declarations like “one day the whole world will chant my name” I was smiling sweetly and chirping “I would describe my business style as like a bouncing puppy”. Yet somehow the almighty powers at The Apprentice chose me as one of their final 18 candidates. Wow.

I was chucked out in week six - drat. I didn’t have very good luck, my team lost every single week and my own performance was essentially useless. Not too surprising when in real life I don’t like confrontation, I can’t haggle and I make nerdy jokes to put people at ease… <puts her head in her hands>. But I’ve got to say, I loved it all. Including the people on Twitter comparing me to a plastic spoon or as weak as a kitten with polio. I’m certainly the accidental apprentice candidate for 2016, but at least I managed to leave with what’s been hailed as ‘the best taxi interview ever’ – I’ve got my straight-talking Cumbrian roots to blame for that.

By Fi or Becs, Oct 13 2016 09:00AM

Well... we've always known that Becs wasn't really a hard-nosed business type...

It's slightly worrying that this is how Becs describes herself at the start of THE APPRENTICE. We all know that this programme is famous for tough business people, back-stabbing and shouty behaviour... how is our friendly little Becs going to survive?!

Hmmmm.... hard-nosed? More like wet-nosed (hah!) uh oh. It's going to be a rocky ride over the next 12 weeks everyone... Enjoy watching!

By Fi or Becs, Oct 2 2016 06:00AM

Becs looking a bit intense... she normally smiles more than this.
Becs looking a bit intense... she normally smiles more than this.

So… we have some slightly exciting news today.

Some of you may have noticed that we've been crazily busy this year (which we have!) but we've also had something HUGE rumbling along which we haven’t been able to tell you all about.

The cat is now FINALLY out of the bag… Becs is a candidate on the 2016 series of The Apprentice on BBC One! (Yep, it's true - we're not just pulling your leg!)

It’s so nice to be able to announce it, the secret has been killing us!

The first episode airs on BBC One at 9pm on Thursday the 6th October so tune in and enjoy watching Becs running around London with the other candidates, standing up for herself in the Boardroom (!) and trying not to talk too much in front of Lord Sugar. Gulp.

Everything at Fi & Becs will continue as normal for the next few months, so if you have any projects or on-going work with us please don’t worry. We do have some other plans afoot including launching our Partner Page on our website and working with some talented freelance designers, copywriters and marketing people.

Enjoy watching!

By Fi or Becs, Sep 13 2016 04:52PM

Amazingly this October we will have been running our little business for three years (blimey). This feels pretty long, yet it's also flown by crazily fast in a blur of logo designs, website building, school pick-ups, new clients and copywriting.

With three years under our belt (and 120 clients in our portfolio!) we have finally realised that we may need to work with some nice freelancers to keep up with our workload... but we also want to make sure that our clients keep getting the same Fi & Becs friendly and approachable service.

So... we have put together some Fi & Becs rules of business! These are the rules that we both live by and that we love about our business - we think our clients might love them too.

Here is the Fi & Becs rule of business number one:

Never call a client a warm lead. Or a hot lead. In fact, never call a client a lead at all.

If you work with Fi & Becs, you can guarantee that you will never be called a lead. We will not treat you like a lead and we will never pester you, speak to you like a sales person or email you to "touch base". In fact, this kind of dreadful business speak makes us want to vomit in our cups of tea.

Our potential clients (and existing ones) are never leads, they are lovely, individual businesses who we love providing with a bespoke, personable and fantastic service. Leads are quite clearly only for dogs - as proven by Becs' photogenic dachshund Bongo.

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