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Susie Warran-Smith CBE DL.

Entrepreneur, Author & Broadcaster 

Moderator: Introduction to the theme

Born into inner city poverty against a backdrop of racist and misogynistic 1960s Britain, Susie finally ‘made it’ becoming a self-made multi-millionaire at 59 years old. Admittedly slower than some entrepreneurs, but she got there in the end.

After working for 35 years as a highly successful designer, illustrator and marketeer specialising in brand development, she decided to set up her own company with her best friend's daughter, Brady Last. They started in her small conservatory on two laptops and with a large stash of Yorkshire tea bags. The kids had left home and at 54 years old, so she thought she should do something risky for once in her life.

She put her entire savings into starting a business even though there were no clients in sight. Susie wanted to use her design and illustration skills to develop her own brand, one that had design and her quirky humour at its heart. She convinced Brady to join her in this one last hurrah.

The sector, which in her opinion had the least amount of wit and verve, was accountancy. The most visually boring area inside that? Tax. So naturally she set up a tax company. Bright orange and lime green instead of the industry standard of blue, blue and more blue, pervaded the office. Her own signature art plastered its walls. Marketing materials, social media and the website featured ducks (really) and steampunk instead of the cheesy stock photography of beautiful models pretending to be business people gazing out of expensive office windows.

Accountants laughed at them, banks wouldn't give them an overdraft (never mind a loan), and rivals tried to put them out of business. Five years later it was sold to EY, that big multi-billion pound turnover company who just loved the staff and the brand.