Updated: Mar 15
In this new blog series we aim to highlight fantastic creative people who we either work with or admire every week! This week, we speak with Ciarán O'Fathaigh, founder of Renegade Production
Hello - my name is Ciaran O'Fathaigh and I'm the founder and creative lead of Renegade Production, an independent, multi-disciplinary creative production practise. My practise covers photography [35mm film in particular], design, artworking and digital design and strategy.
1) What led you to start up your business?
The desire for independence and ownership. I've managed to gather some amazing experience and skills from my professional trajectory so far and I've worked for myself in the past as a freelancer, but I found myself regretting my lack of ownership of my ideas and my time.
I also found myself engaging the services of more and more people with my skillset, experience and instinct for projects I was running. I found myself thinking, "There are a million people in my position hiring people ... just like me!" I could see the budgets being allocated [in fact I was allocating very significant slices of budget myself] to 3rd parties to produce things for projects that I could easily have produced myself. And I was finding increasingly that I had far more in common with the people from these 3rd parties - agencies, freelancers and sole traders etc - than I did with my colleagues.
The final straw was working with an agency called The Bureau on an initiative run by a massive health charity I was working for at the time. They're amazing guys, very talented and capable and the fact that I needed to take that step and strike out on my own became came very stark while working with them.
2) What were the biggest obstacles to starting up?
Time and fear, simply put. I have 2 children as well as domestic financial responsibilities, so it was very easy to doubt the wisdom of jumping ship – there’s this massive, crippling concept of "security" that is inextricably attached to perceptions - both internal and external - of your responsibilities. It took a lot of courage and rationalising to jack in the thing that represented "security" for my family and I. And for me, time was linked to fear in that I feared sacrificing time spent on other things - things that appeared to be more responsible than taking a punt on myself. Part of the reason for me walking away from my professional situation at the time was to create time if that makes sense? Time to commit fully and invest in Renegade Production
3) What do you love about your business?
Freedom, integrity and the people I'm meeting along the way. It's very early days, but I'm not restricted conceptually, artistically or intellectually at all any more, which is just amazing. I'm honestly still getting used to it. As for people, I'm coming into contact with some really intriguing and inspiring characters whose paths would never have crossed with mine otherwise. In terms of my business and what I do professionally, I love how agile and flexible my practise is and I love how one discipline tends to flow pretty seamlessly into another. Each skill set validates the one next to it and the work we do flows naturally through these fields.
4) Who would be your dream client
That's a difficult one to answer ... I always tend to have a soft spot for independent business owners partly because there is a lot of natural empathy. Public and social organisations (3rd sector-type organisations?) are cool, too - I'm currently working with a service run by Lambeth Council and part of that involves a 12 month, seasonal photostudy of West Norwood Cemetery and Crematorium, London's only fully functional Magificent Seven Cemetery which is just amazing, so I'd love to do more work with historical bodies and trusts etc ... and independent record labels and filmmakers? I have a quite a bit of background in music in various roles including composition and production, so that would be great.
5) Where would you like to take your business ultimately?
I'd love to be able to provide training, apprenticeships and youth development for local kids that may not have some of the same advantages as some of the newer, more affluent people who are becoming attracted to the area - I have a fear that they are getting left out of - or not being extended - many of the opportunities created by the recent economic upturn locally. There is so much vision and talent in the area. I'd also love to be working on some national and international-scale projects and initiatives, too – again for public-centric initiatives.
6) Where have you received the most support along your journey?
Some (ex) colleagues have shown real belief in my ability to succeed and have been incredibly encouraging which has been a very humbling experience.
Close friends and family have been great, too and again, have shown real belief in me. Oh, and new clients, funnily enough!
7) Would you consider going back to employment for someone else now?
No. I'd consider partnering up in order to expand and sharing resource and opportunity with perhaps a larger entity/benefactor/whatever, but I'll not give up my endeavours to work for someone or something else.
There are way too many amazing opportunities just waiting to be noticed for me to start looking back over my shoulder.
8) What do you consider the key skills a small business person must have?
Self belief, discipline, tenacity, determination. Always strive to be the best in your sphere and be your own harshest critic and most enthusiastic cheerleader.
9) Have you been influenced by any business books or blogs recently?
@instanthustle - I'm not one for inspirational quotes on social media or that kind of thing in general, but I'm really loving their tips and advice at the moment.
I've been taking some deep dives into Carl Jung's work, too - particularly on architypes and shadows - and I've been doing my best to apply a stoic philosophy to my endeavours and behaviour.
On a very different note, I listen to grime, rap and trap every day - nothing fills my chest with confidence and motivation more that 808s and quality bars!
10) What would your top tips be to anyone considering starting their own business?
Believe in yourself - there will always be times when literally nobody else does. You are the only person truly capable of approving and certifying your own actions and endeavours. When other people do it's nice and reassuring, but ultimately it's a luxury. Never quit. Be grateful for every tiny shred of hope and progress that comes your way.
11) Do you think networking is important for your business?
Absolutely - but with purpose. Don't shoot with a blunderbuss as it were ... Don't be afraid to reach out to anyone, but don't be afraid to keep things moving if relationships aren't flourishing right away - people need time to think and see and that's ok. The best clients – in fact, the best relationships - are rarely ones you have to chase.
Thank you Ciarán!
To find out more about Renegade Production
Don't miss reading more in the 'Have you Met?' series
Interview 18- Maddy Carrick
Interview 17 Anja David
Interview 16 -Bridget Daley
Interview 15 -Karen Arthur
Interview 14 -Rebecca Trowbridge
Interview 13 -Angélina Jandolo
Interview 12 -Kelly Harris
Interview 11 -Sara Dalrymple
Interview 10 -Ciarán O'Fathaigh
Interview 9 -Elizabeth Knights Trench
Interview 8 -Aba Edwards-Idun
Interview 7 -Roxsanne Slatford
Interview 6 -Lara Pearce
Interview 5 -Ashanti Jason
Interview 4- Shannon Reed
Interview 3 -Claire Connor
Interview 2 -Becca Teers
Interview 1 -Cat Bateman
Singing for my Supper
If you enjoyed reading this article and maybe others I've written, found a tip that worked for you or learned something new, it would be great if you'd consider sending me the price of a cup of coffee :) https://www.paypal.me/thanksforreading/2.50
Space at 61 is a venue for hire in Nunhead near Peckham. Often used for childrens parties, workshops, classes, talks, filming and popups you can hire us from £20per hour. The 'Have you Met?' Blog interview concept was created by by Shona Chambers owner of Space at 61 and Shona Chambers Marketing. To read more like this visit www.shonachambersmarketing.co.uk