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Inspired expats: The story of Herd Creative

Having worked with brands such as Good Buzz, Quite Good and more, design studio Herd Creative is built on the foundation of being flexible, and is heavily inspired by its founders’ experiences as expats.

Helen Clegg and her partner, David Kaho had always dreamed of creating their very own design studio, until the pandemic provided them the perfect opportunity to set up one up.

“We’ve always talked about wanting to do our own thing, start our own studio and go out on our own. It has been a dream for both of us,” says Clegg.

“The pandemic really accelerated that we should do this,” she adds.

With having to work from home during the pandemic, Clegg says they both realised the potential of creating their own studio with the newfound freedom of flexibility and hybrid working.

“The catalyst was really finding out we were pregnant with our daughter and thinking about what kind of lives we want with our family.”

She says that the timing was really clear to them that they had to build a future where they controlled their own hours, worked on projects they were passionate about and could work from home.

“It felt like the natural next step in our careers, we could ‘keep working for the man’ so to speak, or we could build our own future. We chose the latter,” says Clegg.

Since the pandemic, Clegg and Kaho have combined their experiences in the field to set up Herd Creative.

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Kaho, with over 10 years of in-house experience at Lion as Head of Marketing Design and is now Creative Director at Herd. This combined with Clegg’s photography skills make up Herd Creative.

“We’re a small team, but with our combined range of skills we have the capabilities of a larger agency, without the overheads,” she adds.

Clegg says the freedom of going out on their own gave them an opportunity to craft their own process around how they approach projects and collaborate with clients.  

The creative process for the pair and their clients is often very direct, “opening up doorways for different conversations” by making the work a partnership.

Clegg says the process often changes and adapts depending on the client as it may require different levels of research and discovery at the start.

Research can look at where the market is sitting, who the competitors are and design trends.

“We really delve deep into that research, insight and strategy before we started working with the brands,” says Clegg.

“We like to get information insight, connect in with clients and customers, look at who their customers are and what they’re looking at, before we start work.”

Clegg says that what sets them apart from some other design studios is that they are incredibly passionate about what they do.

“We want to create great work that gets out there and helps people and brands grow,” she adds.

She adds that Herd Creative fits into the small minority of design studios that are both Pacific-led and female-led.

“Our different life experiences mean that we look at and approach problem solving with a different perspective,” she says.

With Kaho from Tonga and Clegg from the UK, their different backgrounds change how they look at things, and this is reflected in their work.

“The culmination of how we approach things, how we see things and how we do problem solving is a little bit different,” Clegg adds.

“We’re collaboratively working with each other, constantly getting each other to think outside the box and approach things in different ways.”

David Kaho and Helen Clegg.

With their daughter now a bit older, Clegg says Herd Creative is now going “full steam ahead” as the couple focus on growing their business.

In the future they hope to own their own space and expand their team while also still prioritising hybrid and flexible working to make it easier for parents like themselves.

Herd Creative is currently looking at working with new clients and partners, particularly those “who are doing stuff for the community”.

Having Pasifika roots, Kaho and Clegg are also passionate about building relationships with Pasifika people, whether that means cultivating relationships in New Zealand or overseas, or helping Pacific-led companies.

Clegg says people planning to launch their own design studios need to be “passionate and driven” because it is not an easy task.

“Surround yourself with good people, find your team and your champions. Set goals, they’ll help guide you and make sure you’re moving in the right direction,” she says.

“But most importantly, just do it. Jump in the deep end and make sure you swim. If you don’t, you’ll never know if you could have made it or not.”

Bernadette is a content writer across SCG Business titles. To get in touch with her, email [email protected]

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