International Women’s Day – Midnight Blue

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Friday 8 March is International Women’s Day, so all this week we are featuring some of the inspirational women we have met through our SHE Means Business event. Today we feature Anna Peck and Michelle Stacey, founders of marketing agency Midnight Blue and speakers at our May event.

Anna Peck & Michelle Stacey from Midnight Blue

Anna Peck and Michelle Stacey – International Women’s Day

Midnight Blue aims to simplify the brand-building process to help entrepreneurs and ambitious businesses across Hertfordshire grow.

In just four years, the business has become an indispensable partner to businesses across the region, helping them create branding strategies that support growth and scalability. Businesses turn to Midnight Blue because its founders, Anna Peck and Michelle Stacey, quickly get to the heart of their issues bringing creativity and fresh thinking to solve the challenges they face.

That is because, says Michelle, a business can only be effective in its marketing and sales when its brand proposition and strategy is clearly defined and articulated.

Anna and Michelle’s own business journey is as inspiring as the brand strategies they create.

“We met at NCT classes when expecting the first of our children,” explains Michelle. “At the time we were working on our own projects – Anna focused on design and me on strategy – but quickly realised that together we had the skills, experience and drive to bring something different to businesses.

“Over the Covid pandemic and 2020 lockdowns, Midnight Blue was born.”

Today, the business continues to grow, with its clients including successful entrepreneurs, educational establishments and charities. What many of its clients have in common is a desire to help other people – a passion that Michelle and Anna share.

A business born from pregnancy

Both Anna and Michelle were high-flying executives in the creative and media industries working for large London-based marketing and branding agencies. They were working alongside household names and brands including McDonald’s, Vodafone, Britain’s Got Talent and the X-Factor building these world-class brands.

“It was lots of fun and enormously rewarding,” says Michelle. But a change in jobs and the birth of her second child changed everything.

“I was promised the world, but on returning to work after the birth of my second baby, I was told that ‘we didn’t actually think you were coming back’. There was no desk, computer set up, or anything.

“I was told that working remotely would be fine, but pre-Covid the technology set-up just wasn’t there. I remember working from home waiting to be dialled into an important client meeting – and nothing. Being ‘in the room’ was still seen as important to building a career.”

Eventually, the option for redundancy came up. “It was sad,” explains Michelle, “because suddenly so many of my friends with children were being made redundant from their big London jobs.”

It is a story that is echoed across many professions with fewer women in senior roles, largely in part to the challenges of juggling a busy career and family life.

Midnight Blue is clear to practice in what preaches when running the business. Its brand proposition is to build a network of trusted partners that offer complementary services and support that clients might need. It is also working to strong environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards, with Michelle having recently completed a sustainable management leadership course.

“Many of our partners are working mums who want the flexibility we can provide yet still work on interesting projects. And being mums – and dads – we want to create a better future for our children.

“We have found that working mums, who multi-task all of the time, will achieve a huge amount to high standards in a short space of time. Short-sighted businesses are losing out on this phenomenal resource.”

Role models

The need for strong female role models in the workplace remains important, and no more so in the male-dominated marketing and branding world.

“My very first marketing job was with a marketing agency founded by a woman,” says Michelle. “I started on reception and worked up to a senior account manager. She had drive and passion and whilst she was my boss, she was a real inspiration.”

Now, Anna and Michelle very much inspire each other. “We have different skills and approach problems in very different ways, but we do spark off each other. Together, we make Midnight Blue.”

Michelle believes it is easier for women entering the workplace today than even a decade ago, but they still face daily challenges. Men working in creative agencies will often ask for a pay rise saying they deserve it, she says, “but women still feel the need to prove themselves ten times over to get recognition.

“We need to believe in ourselves, in the talents we have and go for it.”


About She Means Business

Launched in 2017, SHE Means Business is our free bi-monthly lunch & learn event supporting entrepreneurs in Hertfordshire. A relaxed and friendly space to connect with like minded people, be inspired and learn from each other. Held in our Watford office, it includes a delicious lunch and is FREE! Find out more.

Our next event is on Wednesday 13 March featuring Mental Health – book your place

To receive information on future events join our SHE Means Business mailing list here.