We are Mike and Izabela Russell. A married couple with a vision. We believe that New Media offers an opportunity to people who are eager to take their lives in their own hands. It offers the opportunity to build new businesses and online ventures. It has a potential to encourage growth of many economies too. Our planet is heading for 8 billion people at an alarming rate. Urbanisation has hit the all time high. And the bottom line is – there is only this much space that we can keep converting into concrete blocks. Perhaps we should stop now and re-design the way in which people approach work? Perhaps this is the answer to many problems that we face.
In 2011 when our daughter was born – we have decided that we needed more than the one bedroom flat in Sevenoaks, Kent. It was brilliantly located with excellent 20 minute links to central London. It was a cozy little flat that gave us seemingly all that small family may need. I was a full time banker in the City of London, Mike had a full time job as a radio presenter. We had really good wages and possibilities of growth in our jobs. Yet – we knew this was not for us. We felt big growing void inside us. And our lovely daughter made us realise that the life is too short to miss all the important moments in her life. It is too short to be stuck in a place with prices inflated due to it's proximity to the city. We knew we wanted to be at home with her and wanted to change our lives for the better.
The Wish List
One day, we made a wish list. Everything we could hope for in our wildest dreams and in the world of no limits. It included things such as:
- House close to the beach
- Big garden
- Walking trails
- Good weather
- Good and not oversubscribed schools
- More space (both in and out)
- Working from home
And many many more elements. We started to look. Within the few months we stumbled across the Isle of Wight. Neither Mike or I have ever visited before. We have decided to book a ferry and visit. I still remember the sunny day in February 2012. Zara was only 3 months old. We stayed in the Clock Tower in Ventnor. The most charming place you can imagine. Just close your eyes and land in the Queen Victoria times. That was it! We have booked a few viewings to take a look at rental market. Believe it or not the very first house we walked into was IT. It had lovely views, was close to the sea and gave us space we needed to grow our business and look after our young family. We spent happily 4 years in there until we were in a position to buy our own. Our families thought we were crazy, we gave up our secure jobs and moved miles away from any family or friends with hardly a plan in our hands. Yet deep in our hearts we knew this was the right thing to do. Not once we had doubts.
We had a little bit of an idea of what we will be doing. In 2006 Mike started his own company. Music Radio Creative – a place to buy audio. To start with just his own voice and him as an audio producer. I knew I could add my people skills and business growth ideas. We both got into work. Within a year we transformed a small idea to a fully operational company that was based 100% online. Mike was the producer and the online marketing guru. He was eating up the knowledge freely available on the internet (to those who are willing to learn!). I turned into a business development manager and customer service. I was looking after our clients and at the same time thinking of other creative ways in which we can grow. Another year and we had 50 voice artists on our books, we also had producers working for us (as Mike was needed (and most of all enjoyed!) looking after the new media aspect of things. Investing latest online marketing ideas and techniques, social media tricks and anything else in between. We also started working with virtual assistants to help me with customer care. We were on fire! 5 years later – our business works with over 100 voice artists, producers, singers, virtual assistants. We work with over 6000 customers every year and produce audio for clients in 197 different countries. Crazy, right?
It was never an easy ride, it isn't today. There are always new obstacles we need to face. The world around is is constantly evolving and we learnt that if we don't evolve with it, we can have many issues. At some point I realised that I desperately needed business knowledge. I subscribed myself to Open Uni and finished a degree in Business Studies in 2016 alongside many certificates along the way. Education was (and still is!) a key to our growth. I have now plans to start MBA. It has been an ambition of mine ever since I can remember. I am waiting for a more financially approachable time to get started – can't wait!
In that time we also grew our family. Zane was born in 2015. Some of the biggest challenges we faced evolved around our growing family. It is not easy to always know the right thing, we made mistakes but we never gave up. We thank the stars every day for the fact that our children are growing up with mum and dad around. Yes we work, and we work hard. But that's not stopping us from also being good parents.
Despite the challenges – we live in a beautiful place. We have made many new friends and family visits us often (we hope they will make the move soon!). Our children are growing in a quiet place with little crime and issues. The school they go to is not oversubscribed and has good Ofsted ratings. We have a 10 minute stroll to the beach from our house and more walking trails than we can count. Isle of Wight also turns out to be one of the warmest places in the UK. So we got the weather we asked for also! Perhaps there is something in making the wish lists to the universe?
New Media Entrepreneurs
On our journeys through the last decade we have met many people with big dreams (just like we once had), they have fears and worries furthermore they have challenges and hopes. They are in many ways just like us. New media tools – such as podcasting, blogging, social media and online marketing enabled us to grow and to take things in our hands. Now we hope we can pass that knowledge over to you, the curious entrepreneur. If you have ambition to follow your dreams, do the things other think are impossible. You have come to the right place. We are the crazy ones and we are not afraid to admit it. Enjoy the ride!