Tech and digital businesses aren't just found in London. More and more we're seeing innovative businesses set up in the north, helping power the economic recovery. One such business is RS Digital and Creative, a digital marketing agency in Leeds. We caught up with founder Rachel Smith to find out more. Rachel was supported through her loan application by Virgin StartUp delivery agents Airedale Enterprise Services.


1. Explain your business in thirty seconds.

RS Digital and Creative is a digital marketing and creative consultancy that specialises in the fashion, retail and leisure markets. We provide services such as website and app development, PPC (including Google Shopping and YouTube advertising), video marketing, social media advertising and content strategy, email marketing and SEO strategy. We also provide creative consultancy for brand visuals. I coordinate seasonal ad campaigns on behalf of my clients; this includes managing all areas of production of the ad visuals, from creative direction to sourcing the creative team to image retouching.

2. Where are you based and why is it a good location for your business?

I am based in my office at home most of the time, but I also now operate from a co-working space in the centre of Leeds called Duke Studios a few days a week. It is a shared space where other creatives, developers and startup companies work from and grow a complementary network. It also has meeting rooms and a photographic studio which is perfect for my fashion and retail clients, and also for pitching to new potential clients. Working from home and on the go is great because it means that I can pick up any online work immediately and respond quickly, which is very important in the digital world.

3. How did you come up with the idea? 

I have been working in digital marketing for almost eight years now and I have a good understanding of both sides of the coin, having worked both client- and agency-side throughout those years. I know how retail clients think and what they need from their agencies in terms of work, response times and costs. With that in mind I often found that agencies were not flexible, responsive or price-realistic enough for retailers. With the nature of retail and marketing today, there needs to be a lot more willingness from digital specialists to work quickly at a more productive cost, which I can offer. I also feel very strongly that the best marketing campaigns are born from passion and I know that my passion lies within fashion, retail and leisure - this is where my consultancy shines.

4. What stage was your business at when you applied for the Start Up Loan? 

I hadn’t started my business yet. The idea and intention was there - however I was still in full-time employment with a Leeds-based marketing agency, therefore due to conflict of interest and respect for my employer I decided to wait until a later stage to officially begin working with my own clientele.

5. How have you used it to grow your business?

I purchased some essential equipment such as a Macbook Air so that I can now work on the go. I also used it to purchase essential design and web software so that I can undertake certain types of projects for my clients. Lastly, I used a chunk of budget for initial social media advertising.

6. Who is your mentor and how have they helped you? 

Tom Leavsey is my mentor. He has helped me to focus on networking more and to get out and talk to people and potential clients instead of relying on my marketing techniques. Tom has helped me to develop my interpersonal skills, and that face to face interaction is much more impactful than an email or phone call.

7. Biggest achievement so far? 

Working with a major well-known leisure brand in the UK to develop their first HR-orientated social media strategy. I manage their content and advertising strategy on social media, reducing resourcing time spent at their various UK sites.

8. What’s next for your business?

I would like to grow the business and gain another high profile client before taking on a small office at Duke Studios where I can hire a student developer/designer to work with me a few days a week. This would be the start of my team growth.


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