Ignite Creative Founder Kary Stewart has a long career in content production. In 1998 she won a Media Week Award for her work on a street art youth marketing campaign which spurred her on to start the first incarnation of Ignite. Since then she has continued to work at the forefront of the digital evolution focusing on the realms of music and art. In 2007 she founded FairTunes, a music and radio charity with four others. She is also a radio presenter and DJ.
G: Tell us about your businesses?
I run Ignite Creative a multimedia production company.My background is firstly in IT and then in music, youth marketing and also radio. Ignite Creative used to be “ig-nite PR & Marketing” in the late 90’s. I then got sucked into the radio world and went to work for Radio 1 for a while. Then in 2000 I ended up living in San Francisco by chance (another story involving the desert planes of Burning Man art festival in Nevada) and once there I built a radio syndication network for a music label group as well as producing content for global party Earthdance. I was surrounded by the spirit of Silicon Valley and by the time I returned in 2003 I was really in tune with developments in multimedia. I started working part time as an Assistant Producer at 1Xtra whilst building a client base and finally becoming a fully-fledged business in 2007.
We produce all sorts of content for websites and mobiles including video, audio, podcasts, copy, photos and social media content. Part of the work involves design and development too.
We produce radio and film documentaries and are currently developing a feature documentary and a transmedia drama also.
On the team there are radio and film producers as well as a developer and designer.
The other side to the company is training which connects very symbiotically with content creation. For example most of our community production projects involved training people to create content for themselves. We are National Open College Network accredited and often run quite long programmes but we also deliver really affordable one day workshops in film, photography, and podcasting etc. – all the areas we work in as producers. We’ve just launched these and they’re proving to be really successful so this is an area of growth for us/
I am also one of five Directors for a music and radio charity called FairTunes. FairTunes is also based in the offices. We have built several studios in Colombia, we have a project under way in Algeria and currently launching a UK project too. The other Directors all work in music and production in various capacities – from running fields at Glastonbury Festival to producing bands, building specialist film scaffolding t running large scale arts events so we have a lot of skills sets covered. Why did we start it? We all wanted to give something back. People can grumble a lot and sometimes it’s easy to forget that many others don’t have the same opportunities or the benefits of having people who believe in them.
G: What are the main challenges maintaining your business and how are you overcoming them?
Content production tends to get overlooked. People and brands build websites and then think – hang on what are we going to put in it? Same with social media – it gets overlooked as something ‘someone’ can do in their spare time.
In the world of commissioning it can be hard for small independents to win commissions ahead of the more tried and tested independents. But we persevere anyway! After all the big production houses were also small once.
In terms of the training side the challenge is probably increasing the profile of our courses with a small to non-existent marketing budget. We’re still trying to figure that out.
As for FairTunes – where do I being? We’re a young charity and the main challenge is getting the fund. We haven’t done too badly on a very measly amount so far though. However the aim is to keep approaching the bigger funders with our vision so we can have a much stronger and far reaching impact..
G: What would you say has been the most memorable experience while developing your business?
With Ignite there’s been so many! Some of the highlights have been winning a Community Radio License for Streetlife Radio after almost 4 years of working with them. Every BBC commission we get is memorable. Working with Joe Rush of Mutoid Waste fame was incredible. He is an amazing artist and part of our work involved sorting through decades of photo and film archive – some incredible images. Filming at Glastonbury is always a great experience.
And for FairTunes.. Myself and two other Directors travelled to El Salado last year – a village in northern Colombia where the inhabitants had suffered massacres at the hands of the paramilitaries. The people were amazing. We built a music and radio studio and taught them how to use it and produce stuff. Some of them hadn’t event touched a mouse before! One of my favourite moments was when a local master accordion player Carmelo Torres recorded in the studio – the first time he had been able to do so.
G: What were the funniest moments that happened while running your business?
We have laughs all the time but I really can’t remember anything specific…
G: Tell us about DO’s and DON’Ts when running the company?
– DON’T blag about what you do
– DO speak passionately about what you do
– DO perfect your skills and services
– DO listen before you respond.
– DO know where you customer base is and how to reach them
– DO collaborate, form partnerships, work with others
– DON’T spend more than you need to!
G: Why do you choose Shoreditch to run your business?
For the creative energy. I used to work on Hoxton Square in 1997. There was so much creativity in the air and such strong sense of Do-It-Yourself entrepreneurship. The buildings may have got slicker, the hipsters more hip, the bars more plenty but the energy of potential and creativity remains. I love it here!
G: What should help for the development of Shoreditch entrepreneurial community? What this community is still missing?
– A directory of businesses from small to big;
– An online platform where we can publish work opportunities;
– More networking events.
G: Who/what are your favourite CEOs/Businesses in Shoreditch?
Jez John from Webstars – the web designers across from us.
Vacant Pig – a small record company that has been in the area for close on 20 years and in the same studio.
PD3 – previously Tully & Co a youth marketing agency where I worked and was a shareholder at the aforementioned studio on Hoxon Square.
G: What does the future has in store for Shoreditch?
Shoreditch will continue attracting creative people and more money into the area. My hope is that there will continue to be room for everyone, from the affluent to the start up and from the creative to the techies.