#FemaleFounders No.5: The Extraordinary Club - Matchstick Creative
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#FemaleFounders No.5: The Extraordinary Club

The Extraordinary Club (TEC) is the product of two powerful women working together. Founded by the forces of nature that are Dawn Paine and Angela McClelland, The Extraordinary Club is sure to be appearing in your world soon, if it hasn’t already. Offering a suite of services for digital entrepreneurs and businesses, TEC is like your fairy job mother. Need a business strategy? Call Dawn and Angela. Need to figure out how to get funding or host a business-changing workshop? Call Angela and Dawn. They’re the fix-it women of business. And we couldn’t be happier we spoke to them for our fifth instalment for #FemaleFounders.

If you aren’t already, make sure you follow our updates on Twitter & Instagram to catch all the posts in the series. But for now, let’s get down to business with the formidable female founders behind The Extraordinary Club.

1. Why did you start your business? What spurred you on?

Angela: I’ve been in a corporate environment all of my working life – I’ve held leadership roles in Barclays, HSBC and Santander to name a few.  But, I wanted to become more involved in the digital and creative sector. I love the Liverpool region and I was keen to build something for myself in the city I was raised in. Thanks to my background in banking, I feel I have a lot to offer the sector.

Angela has been in leadership roles in Barclays, HSBC and Santander and I was Marketing Director at Nintendo for 10 years and was also Vice President of Marketing at Universal Pictures.

Dawn: My background has been with big, creative companies, including 10 years as Marketing Director at Nintendo and then a role as Vice President of Marketing at Universal Pictures. Even whilst I was working at those companies I found myself drawn back to Liverpool. I feel as though it’s at a real tipping point at the moment. There is so much opportunity for growth in our region in the creative & digital sector.

There was a report recently from Nesta discussing the growth in the creative sector called Creative Nation.  Interestingly, the survival rate of micro creative businesses in our region isn’t great. We set up The Extraordinary Club to help address that imbalance and offer our wealth of expertise. I think we’ve both reached a point where we want to give back and do our own thing.  

I feel as though Liverpool is at a real tipping point at the moment. There is so much opportunity for growth in our region in the creative & digital sector. – Dawn Paine

2. What are the unique challenges you have faced as a female founder?

Dawn: Personally, I feel it hasn’t been a huge issue, but we’re acutely aware this isn’t the case for all female founders. Something I am becoming more aware of, however, is the tendency to still see all-male panels. At an event recently where all of the metro mayors attended I was dispirited to see they were all men. However, I am noticing publications like Forbes are recognising the growing number of female founders in our age bracket – it’s great to see women starting their own thing later in their career.

Angela: I agree – I think we’re too young a business to have any real issues crop up just yet, but I am still finding I’m the only woman in meetings still. In a meeting recently I noticed out of the 18 people in the room only three of us were women.

In a meeting recently I noticed out of the 18 people in the room only three of us were women. – Angela McClelland.

3. What were the steepest learning curves during your first year in business?

Angela: For me, it’s got to be getting comfortable with a more variable income, rather than a fixed salary.

Dawn: For me, it’s getting used to the smaller budgets I’m working with. After working at huge companies like Nintendo with marketing budgets that sometimes stretched to the millions, it’s become an interesting creative challenge to work with real-world budgets.

4. What is your favourite thing about founding your own company?

Angela: I love the autonomy to create a bespoke response for a client. In previous roles that just wouldn’t have been possible, but with my own venture I get to decide to do something and get it done.

Dawn: I agree – no confinement and no rules makes me happy!

5. What is the best business advice you have been given by someone else?

Dawn: I think mine has to come from my time at Nintendo. Their founder, Fusajiro Yamauchi, was a very spiritual and philosophical leader. He taught me it was important to have humility in business. He used to say; “If success is defined by anything it has got to be a combination of great planning coinciding with good luck.”

If success is defined by anything it has got to be a combination of great planning coinciding with good luck.

6. What business tools can’t you live without?

Angela: My phone! It sounds silly, but I can’t live without it – who can?

Dawn: For me, it’s got to be Twitter. I use it for everything.

7. When you’ve got a tough business decision to make what would be your first steps to solving the problem?

Angela: We’ve not come across too many issues yet as we’re still so young as a company. However, what we would normally do is sit down and talk it out face to face.

Dawn: We’re best friends and there’s a lot of respect between us – so there’s never any ego or politics in our decision making. The thing that’s great about partnering with Angela is we approach a problem from two different perspectives – it’s one of our company’s strengths.

8. Who are your heroines and why? Give us two.

Dawn: From the past, I would have to say Agatha Christie. I think it’s underestimated how subversive she was and she often gave equal focus to both men and women. And from my present, I’d have to say the President of WACL, Kerry Glazer. She’s the best example of world-class leadership for me. She’s business savvy, focused, dynamic and kind.

Angela: From a business point of view, Jo Malone. She started selling on stalls in marketplaces and built this huge empire. Then, she got sick and started back up again when she had recovered. It’s pretty inspiring. And from a personal perspective, my Mum. She’s the matriarch of my family – everyone goes to her for advice.

9. What piece of advice would you give yourself if you were starting your business now?

Dawn & Angela: Always check against your strategy and plan. Where are we and where are we trying to go? Then, break it down into quarterly and monthly goals. You have to be doing the kind of work you want to be doing.

10. What’s your go-to marketing tactic for your small business? Why?

Dawn: I advocate for approach and strategy before tactics. Your marketing tactics are important, but it’s not worth anything if you aren’t building relationships and making valuable partnerships. The thing that makes The Extraordinary Club unique is that relationship building is at the heart of it and we extend that into everything we do.

The Extraordinary Club exclusive news

Be sure to keep an eye on The Extraordinary Club’s Twitter feed for an exclusive event dropping in October. We’ve been told it’s going to big. And don’t forget to check out the rest of the posts in our #FemaleFounders series.