Kicking the life into the Donkey
There is no better way to bond with your grand-'¨father than to work with him.
When Leanne Millar set up her own marketing business, Kick-Ass Donkey Ltd, based in Preston, last year, she asked her devoted grandad, Brian Burns, to join her.
And the pair have a strict rule to ensure they allow themselves some quality family time.
Leanne says: “I have no employees other than my grandfather coming to work with me daily and helping out with some research. At 72, he is retired, and it keeps him busy. In the future, I would love to expand, and my long-term goal is to create employment opportunities within the local area. This is far more important to me than money.
“I see my grandfather most days for work, however we have a strict Friday each week where we go out for lunch at The Ribble Pilot and are not allowed to talk about work.”
The 30-year-old, from Preston, left school at 16 with no qualifications, but was determined to make something of her life.
She reveals: “I had no qualifications, yet somehow I managed to get into college and began studying ICT. After achieving 99 per cent and 93 per cent respectively in my first term examinations, I received a letter of commendation from the principal of Burnley College for the highest exam results ever seen from that course.
“At age 18 I took a break from education as I was offered a position working full time in the health and social care sector. This was a career which spanned over 10 years, but I never lost my love of computing. At age 23 I applied to attend the University of Central Lancashire and I graduated with a Bachelor of Science with Honours degree in Interactive Digital Media. This is where my story with marketing began.
“As a newly qualified graphic and web designer I began to freelance for many small companies in Lancashire. I worked for businesses in Germany and Lanzarote. What I cut my teeth on, however, was a two-year placement working with The People’s Awareness of Neurological Disorders Association (PANDA), which helped me to learn and understand my craft. My work went from basic at best to what it is today.
“Due to the marketing team consisting of mainly myself, I had to up my game for them to be seen. As a marketing person, I strive to ensure all of my work is accessible, which I learnt was vital for PANDA. If there is any particular message I could send out to any designers or developers, it is to research accessibility and incorporate this into your work. You have no idea how much this can make a difference to the people who rely on it.”
With Leanne’s new skills, she launched Kick-Ass Donkey Group Ltd, which is believed to be Britain’s first pay as you go marketing company.
She adds: “We handle all aspects of marketing including logo and brand design, web development, search engine optimisation, e-mail marketing and social media marketing. We do not believe in sending out tonnes of spam e-mails, begging for work. We would, however, love for businesses to get in touch, just to share their story, and get to know us a little better. It would be good to make new business friends.”
Brian, of Lea, who has previously travelled the world as an engineer for the REME, adds: “I attend workshops and meetings with Leanne. I find that professionally it gives the team depth and diversity by having an older person present, and increases trust within the Kick-Ass Donkey Group brand. Personally, since losing my wife, Leanne’s grandma, last August, it has helped me to have something other than grief to focus on. I enjoy learning and have enjoyed learning from the people we have met and Leanne about an industry I knew little about.”