Meet the IPSE Inspire Freelancer of the Year finalists

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IPSE is delighted to announce the 10 finalists for the Inspire Freelancer of the Year Award 2017. The award is for those aged 24 and over.

Yoni Alter. Graphic Artist.

Yoni, a graphic designer who graduated from London College of Communication in 2007, grew up with an overwhelming passion for drawing. After studying art and design in Jerusalem, Yoni arrived in London looking to establish himself in “the creative capital of the world”. Yoni’s eye-catching, colourful designs mix a range of commercial and artistic styles.

The inspiration for his debut London show at the Kemistry Gallery was the city’s urban landscapes and architecture. His colourful designs show London architecture in a simplified, almost abstract way. They pay homage to the “creative vibe of this amazing city”. Since then, he has worked on a number of significant, high-profile designs for BoxPark, The Tate, London Live and the Guardian.

For the Tate, Yoni produced a range of London-themed best-selling products such as T-shirts, mugs and badges. It meant a lot for him personally, because the money raised went towards the Tate’s project to make art more accessible for everyone. He also has an online shop where he sells his prints.

Yoni believes London is the creative capital of the world. He feels the city gives him the freedom and opportunity to express himself in a vibrant, competitive market. He also emphasises the importance of producing art and ideas that “go beyond the UK”, and has been commissioned by major global companies such as McDonalds, Microsoft, Nissan and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Yoni says his work makes him proud and he loves the fact that his passion now gives him the income to support his family. If he won, he would use the prize money to promote a number of innovative upcoming projects that have already begun to gain traction with some important designers. These projects “include a light element in them and some are interactive”. Winning Freelancer of the Year would help make them happen.

Mandy Barker. Graphic Design.

Mandy left her full-time agency role in 2016 to set up her own graphic design studio, Sail Creative. It is an independent, creative branding agency focused on arts, culture and positive social change.

Mandy set up the studio to create meaningful and creative work and to give brands a voice and purpose. She aims to push the boundaries, explore, experiment and discover new ideas and methods. “Challenging the status quo” is at the heart of what the studio does.

Working in a niche connected with social change and community engagement, Mandy uses a personal approach to build brand awareness and secure contracts. Core themes such as equality are central to almost all of her work – something Mandy is very proud of.

Sail Creative is currently working on a bold, creative and exciting rebrand of Curious Arts (an LGBT arts festival). They are also rebranding a law firm specialising in representation for the LGBTQ and Romani Traveller communities, as well as producing new designs for Eat Me Cafe.

Mandy’s greatest business achievement was a project called Words Bare, which showcased and challenged some of the comments LGBTQ people face. For the project, she gathered research and case studies from across the UK, then used them as the basis for works of art, which she presented in a curated exhibition. The event was widely praised for “making this intolerance visible”, and Mandy has now been commissioned for a Newcastle event in July.

As her business develops, Mandy wants to use her story to empower and inspire young people, especially women. She wants to use communities, events, education and public speaking to show the power of believing in yourself. In particular, she is keen to raise awareness on a national scale. If she won, she would put the prize money towards digital advertising, copywriting, valuable content, SEO and a bespoke website for Sail Creative.

Charlotte Beevor. Surface Pattern Design.

Charlotte has been a successful, bespoke surface pattern designer since graduating from Leeds College of Art and Design in 2014. Vibrant colour and patterns are at the core of her work, and she has designed prints across a range of surfaces and products – from interiors and fashion prints to sportswear and stationery.

Winning the prestigious BDC New Designer of the Year Award at the New Designers exhibit in London in 2014 was the springboard for a string of high profile collaborations with organisations including,, Marks and Spencer and Hillary’s Blinds. When she won the BDC New Designer of the Year Award the judging panel commented: “Charlotte demonstrates raw talent – her portfolio is full of exuberant joy, brimming with painterly motifs and unusual colour combinations. The panel feels that Charlotte’s work has fantastic commercial viability and versatility.”

At the Premiere Vision show in Paris, Charlotte won the Colour, Lululemon Athletica and ComON award which helped her achieve both global recognition and work in Italy, Canada and Paris.

Freelancing gives her the opportunity to work on a diverse and exciting range of briefs and products. Charlotte prides herself on “being different”, resisting the pressure to become more commercial and staying true to her unique eye for curating and designed ideas and collections.

For Charlotte, winning Freelancer of the Year would be a much welcomed recognition of her achievements since graduating. In the future, she plans to extend her portfolio with further collaborations to create exciting, eye-catching and stylish collections for major companies. After significant successes at a number of different trade shows, she now plans to exhibit her work and also represent independent British designers at events in Paris, Shanghai and New York.

Winning the award would allow Charlotte to move into a new studio space and exhibit at international trade shows in London. 

Rich Daley. Software Development Consultancy.

Rich’s company, Fish Percolator, is a software design consultancy that makes embryonic concepts a reality for clients. His projects range from basic staff motivation measures to major progressive and socially aware projects, such as a Leeds-based service to help the victims of domestic violence. His business is built around making a difference through technology. 

One of Rich’s projects was Noiiz, a Netflix-style app for sound. It’s essentially a subscription service where music producers pay a flat fee for access to a database of music samples. Fish Percolator spent 11 months building a large proportion of Noiiz’s technology.

The Leeds-based service for the victims of domestic violence is called Crisis Dashboard. It’s a mobile app that helps domestic abuse victims get support discreetly. The app was developed for Leeds City Council and is now being trialled in two cities.

Another app Rich has worked on is GSOH (Great Sense of Home), an open data app for Leeds City Council, which uses a quiz to determine the perfect neighbourhoods for people.

Before making the move to self-employment, Rich worked in the corporate sector for a number of years. Being self-employed has given him a much more stimulating work environment, as well as the opportunity to work on a much broader range of projects. Rich has also helped set up the ‘Biscuit Club’ at his co-working space, where freelancers from all fields come together to talk and collaborate on new products and businesses.

Rich has two major projects in the pipeline, and the prize money would go towards them. He would also set some of the money aside to purchase a high-tech workstation, and also to develop a training programme to deliver a variant of the software-based Agile Manifesto to other industries.

Alexy Dury. Deaf-related professional services.

Alexy runs DeafAspect, a deaf-led organisation offering professional services to deaf and hard-of-hearing communities in and around Oxfordshire.

Alexy has worked on numerous projects including deaf awareness and British sign language sessions, consultancy on deaf-related issues, support work, one-on-one support, guidance and deaf relay interpreting. Her proudest achievement was working as a consultant for SignVideo, a video relay service for deaf people.

Working on a freelance basis allows her to provide a broader range of services and support over a wider area, whereas before, she was limited by being tied to certain companies. Alexy’s USP is that, because she is deaf, she is able to offer a relatable and sympathetic service to deaf and hard-of-hearing communities.

She has been expanding her skill set and improving her marketability by developing new accountancy and tax skills and using them to set up her own business.

For her, the future is all about expansion. She has progressed to Level 6 of British Sign Language – the highest level – and plans to take more training courses to expand her skills even further. Today, deaf people are feeling more and more isolated and embarrassed, and Alexy is determined to create a close and understanding community for them.

If she won, Alexy would use the prize money to fund further training, such as Deafblind level 2 to 6, as well as mental health advocacy training, which would help open more doors in the world of social care.

Chichi Eruchalu. Business Coaching & Strategy.

Chichi is a strategist and coach for entrepreneurial women looking to step up and stand out in the business world. She helps her clients gain confidence and overcome their business fears by developing strategies to establish them as authorities in their particular areas, connecting them with the people who need to use their services and “making consistency their new best friend”.

Chichi graduated from Durham with a degree in Business Finance, then worked in full-time employment before embarking on her career as a freelancer.

Now she offers her services both to solopreneurs and to new and established businesses, helping them to build their strategies and create “authentic” businesses. Chichi has also created a CEO Mastery Facebook community, which has already grown to over 2,500 women in less than a year. She offers one-to-one coaching too, and has also created five group programmes to help women with visibility and consistency.

For Chichi, her biggest achievement was leaving the constraints of her 9-5 job, which she moved into after graduating. Her move to freelancing began when she created a video that went viral; it helped her build up momentum, grow her business and, ultimately, go it alone. Since then, her online community has grown exponentially: she now has over 2,500 members and her group programme is sold out.

Chichi identified some areas of potential weakness in her business – such as sales – and got the training and coaching to improve her skills in those fields. She is always striving to broaden her skillset.

Now her mission is to spread her message further still and train women all over the world to start their own business and achieve their potential. If she won, she would invest the prize money in more events, workshops and advertising – particularly on Facebook. She would also invest part of the prize in her community of clients.

Melissa Holloway. Medical copywriting.

Through her company, M Holloway Ltd, Melissa provides medical copywriting services to healthcare advertising agencies, medical device companies and consulting services. Her work requires a combination of desk research, strategy and creative thinking, and involves collaborating closely with clients and colleagues. She produces motivating and engaging material, which also adhere to regulatory codes.

Recently, she has been working on the global launch of a new treatment for hepatitis B and a new multiple sclerosis medication. In 2016, she also started working in collaboration with a medical device company on a UK market survey. She has worked on projects worth up to $50 million, advised a wide range of start-ups and investors interested in the UK market, and also developed best practice guidelines for American healthcare providers working in diabetes.

Melissa’s immediate goal is to branch out beyond London. She is also focused on her new venture, Speaking Diabetes Ltd, which provides insights and advice for investors and companies involved in diabetes care. Her goal is to use her personal experience of living with type 1 diabetes for over 20 years – and working in and around the diabetes care industry for 14 years – to develop her brand.

If Melissa won Freelancer of the Year, she would use the prize money to develop and launch her new social media strategy, take further training to enhance her project scoping and negotiation skills and attend a major diabetes conference to meet with prospective clients.

Luke Nicholson. Communication & Accent Coach.

Although English vocabulary and grammar are taught to many non-native speakers in school, little is done to actually teach them how to speak. And being asked to repeat themselves is not only frustrating for non-native speakers; it can even lead to problems at work – particularly in companies where English speaking skills are essential. Seeing an opportunity, Luke set up his business to help non-native speakers improve their English pronunciation.

Using the skills he picked up both training as an actor and studying languages at university, Luke set up a business and began trading in late 2012. Since then he has personally coached people from over 65 different countries and from a wide range of backgrounds. He finds it extremely rewarding to see the positive change this has on his clients’ daily lives.

As well as teaching one-to-one lessons in his central London office and via Skype, Luke offers a range of free learning resources on his website, including pronunciation games and videos. He has also designed and created the only interactive vowel and consonant charts available for the contemporary British English accent.

In 2016 Luke launched his self-study Online English Pronunciation Course, which contains over 80 videos, 550 native-speaker audio recordings and 350 worksheets. The course is tailored to the student’s native language to prioritise what they need to learn. With this course anyone, anywhere in the world, can now access the tools to improve their English communication skills.

Luke has identified a niche market, which few are exploiting, and has created a business that ideally serves that market. The business is growing both in its number of clients and the services it offers.

Should he be crowned Freelancer of the Year, Luke will split the prize money between further development of his online course, publishing an English pronunciation textbook, and creating more learning resources.

Phil Richardson. Track Design Engineer.

Phil is a freelance track design engineer who works predominantly for consultancy clients, delivering on Network Rail infrastructure in the UK. He specialises in track and drainage systems, and much of his work involves considering the associated risks, buildability challenges and staging considerations for the implementation of safe and cost-effective designs.

Currently, Phil works mainly on the Northern Hub and the Electrification of the North West. He has worked on a number of large-scale projects aimed at introducing electric trains and improving journey times on commuter train routes in and out of Manchester. Phil also carries out bespoke consultancy work on track and drainage design for smaller-scale projects. Because of a wealth of positive feedback, he has been able to not only secure repeat work, but also greatly expand his client base.

At just 28, Phil sometimes has to deal with the prejudice of being a comparatively young professional in an industry typically dominated by older, more experienced people. After graduating in 2011, Phil worked in a full-time role, but before long he became disenchanted by the lack of responsibility and the limited financial gains.

He has now established himself as a skilled and sought-after freelance professional in a niche industry. He loves the flexibility he gets as a freelancer, and finds that it suits his efficiency and intuitiveness.

In the future, Phil hopes to both increase his output and also use a number of semi-automatic processes he has designed to source more fixed-price jobs. If he won Freelancer of the Year, he would use the prize money to purchase a new, high-spec laptop and desktop, which would greatly help him to expand his operation.

Michael Trew. Origami Paper Sculptor.

Michael started making origami as a six-year-old, and 25 years later it’s his source of income, creative expression and pleasure (and sometimes stress, he hastens to add). By 16, he had already secured major commercial jobs with the likes of Playstation, Airbus and Mizuho Bank.

Now his company, Papershake Ltd, has been operating for four years. In the past couple of months alone, Papershake have designed a unique range of origami models for a famous footwear company, made 100 red roses for Valentine’s Day, created a series of Kirigami (an origami-style form of pop-up) scenes for an animated corporate film and numerous wedding invites, place settings and hanging decorations.

His website is awash with stunningly detailed origami dinosaurs, fish, birds and flowers, across shop fronts and in pop-up food stalls, product launches and weddings. His achievements include everything from minute flowers to a two-metre-high dinosaur’s head. Michael says one of his proudest moments is when he created an origami stop frame animation for a Channel 5 advert.

Papershake has flourished because of Michael’s creativity, business acumen, interpersonal skills and, crucially, his passion for his work.

Michael would love to use more computer-assisted design in his work. He would particularly like to use parametric design software to create magical concepts that feel simultaneously both mathematical and organic. Should he win, Michael would use the prize money to learn to state-of-the-art software, design a range of books of famous poems with beautiful origami illustrations, and generally broaden the scope and reach of Papershake. 

Meet the author

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Tristan Grove

Head of Communications and Policy Engagement