Helena Duggan has been part of the Willie Duggan team for many years and involved in many big projects from the development of our own catalogue to the building of our design centre in Kilkenny city. Helena has been holding this business to account for our brand. She started her career with us as our Graphic Designer and made her way through the ranks to now having her hands firmly on our image.
During this time however, she has been keeping a secret, and that is her love of writing. She is the author of a Place Called Perfect book series which is published in many countries like the UK and as far away as South Korea! Her series is doing unbelievably well with sales in excess of 70,000 copies as well as winning numerous awards; Waterstones Children’s book of the Month in the UK and Ireland, Eason Book of the Month, WHSmith Tom Fletcher Bookclub Choice, Waterstone’s Children’s book prize and The Guardian Children’s Crime Fiction award, to name just a few. Her agent is no other than The Blair Partnership (aka J.K. Rowling’s agent!). Because of all this, we are afraid we might lose her to Disney some day…
I took some time out to catch up with Helena (also my sister, so she has to give me the time!) and her new baby Bobbie!
How are you doing since the new arrival?
Its has been a tough 4 weeks but we are getting there. Bobbie is our second so it is a little tougher when there are two to contend with. But I won’t complain as it is amazing being a mother.
You are quite creative, where did this start for you?
My mother is an artist and Dad was very creative too, we were always encouraged to be creative. As a child, I drew pictures and loved to read which all helped with building my imagination.
Have you always been involved with Willie Duggan?
We always helped out when we were young and we always knew what was happening as our dinner table doubled up as the board room during the week. Once I left college I became the go to graphics person, even when I was working with other companies.
I then set up my own business and Willie Duggan became one of my clients,
What was it like growing up in a family business?
I was surrounded by lighting, so no matter where I went I would always be looking at the lighting. It was always one of our main topics at the dinner table.
You are a graphic designer by trade, why did you pick this as a profession?
I had the choice of Architecture or Graphic Design as I had been offered both. Dad wanted me to do Architecture but my gut was saying Graphics. I chose it because I believed it would allow me to have more freedom artistically. When the recession came in, Architecture got hit really badly but Graphics didn’t get hit half as hard.
Why do you think Brand is so important?
It is fundamental, they say don’t judge a book by its cover, but everyone does. It is the face of our company. Our mother always told us, if you are ever going anywhere, look your best, and I believe the same is for our company.
But you need to back this up, it is how you represent yourself across the board. From answering the telephone, to doing client presentations, to any Marketing materials produced.
Do you think your work has helped to influence your writing?
Yes, I write plot driven stories. Graphics branding is all about what is the best way to represent your brand. This involves a lot of investigation and you create a clear storyline around the business.
The third book in your series is about to come out, can you reveal anything about it yet?
No. But it is the last in the series.
How do you manage to fit writing in around your work with Willie Duggan and 2 kids?!
I don’t know! I have had to allow myself two days of writing per week along with late nights so it can be heavy going. I suppose I really have to love it to dedicate that time.
I see that you have re-branded Willie Duggan from Willie Duggan Lighting, what was a reason for this change?
It allows the company more flexibility as we have a few different sections to our company, Willie Duggan Professional, Willie Duggan Lighting etc., so it allows us not to be too pigeon holed.
It makes the brand stronger as well, as the name Willie Duggan is well known. It is more of a statement.