With clients as local as We The Curious (formerly At-Bristol) to big players like Amnesty International, Wonderland is a communications agency that prides itself on being unconventional. We grill Alison Weir, founder and director.
How did you start at Wonderland Comms?
After 15 years at various creative communications agencies in Bristol and London, I realised it was time for me to do my own thing. I sat down with my partner Rich and sketched out Wonderland. I ran into an accountant’s office on January 4, 2016 to register the business, and the rest is history.
If you knew then what you know now, what mistakes might you have avoided?
I’ve made plenty of mistakes! The thing is, mistakes can be a good thing. Each one has taught me something important. They’ve either made a better person, better at my job, or both.
What advice would you have given yourself when starting out?
Start recruitment as soon as possible! It takes time to find great people. Especially when team and culture fit is such a high priority.
If you knew then what you know now, would you still be sitting there?
1,000,000,000,000,000,000 percent. People ask if I feel I should have set up Wonderland earlier, but I’m glad I did it when I did. Everything that happened before, both good and bad, helped me create a business that I’m truly proud of.
What do you know now that you didn’t know then?
Doing badly in exams doesn’t equate to doing badly in life.
People will tell you to dress a certain way and wear make-up. But refusing to conform to industry stereotypes will help you stand out from the crowd and stay true to yourself.
Wearing very baggy trousers (it was the early 00’s) and no belt means people will see your bum daily, which won’t help you seem very professional.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received so far?
“Treat yourself as a client”. Our culture is massively important to us, our brand is a physical manifestation of the culture, and our wonderful, talented Wonderlanders are our biggest ambassadors. Everything must work hard to make sense and stand out in a competitive industry.
What is your business highlight?
Staying true to ourselves. We’re proudly unconventional. We’re unapologetic in what we do and how we do it. We’ve created an agency with people truly at the heart of the business and every one of our clients has real purpose at their core.
What is your business low point?
I’ve wracked my brain but there genuinely hasn’t been one! We’re happy, healthy, busy – it’s all good.
What keeps you awake? (other than pets and children)
*Annoying sleep brag alert* The honest answer is – very little. I’ve always been a very good sleeper. I work through challenges as they happen rather than letting them fester. Also, my bed’s pretty awesome, which helps.
What’s changed from when you started out?
We’re bigger! In the beginning, there was just me. There are now five of us full-time and we’re recruiting. The business has grown by over 70 percent this year and we’re lucky to work with inspirational, purpose-led clients from the get go. We’ve just started working with Heinz which is HUGE for us.
What’s still on your to-do list?
Finding another new, central, unique office space! It’ll be the second time we’ve had to scale up since we started. And we are still looking for our next member of Team Wonderland (hint hint, any PR superstars reading this).
What’s next for Wonderland?
We’re chuffed that people have responded to Wonderland so positively. They genuinely seem to love what we do and how we do it. Working with Canopy & Stars at Crane 29 and We The Curious has been brilliant, we’d love to do more with them in 2018. Someone recently said “the world is your oyster”, so we’d add “working with other like-minded brands and businesses” to this. Those who would relish working with Wonderland’s band of ballsy and proudly unconventional people.
Oh, and myself and Rich are getting married in November. Our first Wonderland wedding!