Penni & Jo Pickering, Kabo Creative
A coffee with the team at Kabo Creative, who are not only very talented, but they’re very lovely too!
Penni, Jo and I are in a lot of the same freelance networking groups, and I’ve really admired their work since hearing about Kabo Creative.
After chatting with Penni a few times I found that we’ve got a lot in common and our views on design and collaboration are very very similar! I was (and still am) really excited when they said yes to being part of this series.
What coffee do you like to drink?
Latte, with cake!
Tell me about the work you do
We’re a married couple with complementary skills who, in the most simple terms, design things for clients. What that practically means is our design studio produces WordPress and Shopify websites, and graphic design (think logos, branding, print materials, etc.) for small businesses.
We also love teaming up with other freelancers and small businesses to produce great things for clients, be that SEOs, other designers, copywriters, etc.
Finish this sentence. Great design should be...
…well thought through. We ask our clients ‘why?’ a lot, as good design is based on a good brief.
There’s nothing more soul destroying as a designer than someone who just wants a monkey with ‘design skills’ to create the thing they have in their mind.
One of my (Penni) pet hates is when a client asks for a carousel on their website. My first question is always: Why?
Almost always the answer: we have 5 important things that need to go at the top of the homepage!
Studies have shown that website visitors don’t click through carousels and are more likely to scroll past than read static content. It’s also less likely to be accessible content for those with screen readers and other disabilities, but that’s another point entirely!
It’s our role as designers to push back and ask questions to produce something great at the end of the process.
If you hate carousels too, use this (it’s helped us make our point many times): https://shouldiuseacarousel.
Finish this sentence. Great design elevates your brand by...
…making it memorable.
When lockdown eases, the first project I would like to design would be... because…
That’s a tough one! Lockdown, while changing our lifestyle, hasn’t changed our business very much at all. We’ve always worked remotely with our clients, having spent a year hopping around South East Asia while running our design studio.
Ignoring the lockdown element as it’s not really changed how we work or who we work with, the kind of project we’d LOVE to work on is anything equality related.
We get excited working with customers whose businesses have a cause at heart, but one who is working to reduce the harm of inequality would be something we’d be proud to be involved in. As two gay female business owners we’re passionate about equal opportunities regardless of your skin colour, gender, sexuality, disability status, or anything else.
What piece of design do you wish you’d created?
I (Penni) was brought in to develop the site from Everywhere Brand’s flatlays once they’d carried out the rebrand and we both fell in love with their work. They took something so stiff and formal (telecoms can be so blurgh), and gave it a personality. They really found what was unique about the founders which carried through to the company, ending up with a telecoms company you actually connect with. The resulting website sells using emotion first, features second, which is so rare in that industry.
Everything from the logo, to the colours, photography, typography, copy, even the choice of email address and contact form button text is branded playfully. We both love it!
What do you think makes someone a great designer?
Listening. Without really hearing a client, you can’t create anything relevant.
Other things: doing the research, being a problem solver and always learning. Our industry moves so fast, being humble and learning from others is really important.
If you weren't doing design, what would you be doing?
Jo would still be creating things! Woodwork or something physical. She never stops hinting that she needs her own workshop to tinker in!
As for me (Penni), if money were no object I’d blow the lot racing cars (I think I’d love rallying, but having not raced anything since I was 16, who knows if I’d be any good!).
And finally, can you tell me about 3 other freelance designers or small biz owners whose work you admire
There are so many it’s hard to pick three – we’ve been surrounded by such a supportive community of small businesses, freelancers and designers since we started our little studio.
But if we HAVE to pick, we choose:
The lovely brother and sister team behind Everywhere Brand. They are brilliant designers who make it look effortless. We really love their work!
Marketing and design are so interlinked we don’t think one can be without the other.
I (Penni) was a marketer before touching code or design, and have followed the Everyone Hates Marketers podcast for a long time. Louis is the man behind the podcast and he just gets it. The number one podcast on our list.
When we first started our business we hit up the local events on Meetup and nervously turned up with our freshly printed business cards. The first one we tried was held in a canteen in a Cambridge office called The Marketing Meetup.
A few years down the line and Joe Glover has taken this meetup he created purely out of the kindness of his own heart into a proper multinational brand pulling in the greatest names in marketing. Watching it grow has been incredible and it’s all down to the founder, Joe, and his positively lovely attitude.