Arran has recently been diagnosed with Spinocerebellar ataxia 6 (SCA6), but has long been familiar with ataxia, as her father also has the condition. 23 years old, she has decided to own her future by doing something she loves for a living.
I’m regularly asked how long I’ve been in business, how old I am (a question you should never ask a lady, by the way!) and what made me start my own business. My answers to each of these questions evoke a gasp – of horror, amazement or inspiration, I’m never sure – every single time. I registered my business on Christmas day, and I’ve been working for myself full-time since February. I turned 23 last week, and I started my business because after a year of undergoing genetic counselling and genetic testing, I found out that I had inherited the SCA6 (Spinocerebellar Ataxia) gene from my father. Working for someone else just wasn’t going to cut it anymore; it was time to do something for myself and try to make a difference.
Arran Eleanor Creative Ltd.
For the record (and just in case you ever need a hand with this sort of thing), I’m the managing director of Arran Eleanor Creative Ltd. We offer creative marketing solutions for small businesses and small budgets with a focus on website design, highly-targeted social media, unique content – like this blog – and marketing consultancy. Before this, I was working for a big agency on big clients, and I’d become quite disillusioned to the world of marketing. Surely it should be about building brands from the ground up; the big dogs are already well known! Small companies and start-ups struggle to afford marketing, so they’re struggling to make a name for themselves in today’s cut-throat business world. As someone who has always been passionate about the independent businesses around me, I thought they deserved more representation, so here I am.
Arran and her CEO/ life partner Adam
When I’m not running my business, I’m an artist. Believe it or not, my marketing skills haven’t come from a degree: I’m actually trained in fine art. For three years I’ve raised money for Ataxia UK by selling my exclusive range of Christmas cards, and in the days when I worked behind a bar we also raised money through our weekly pub quiz. It’s always been important to me to do as much fundraising as possible for the charity, but since my test results, supporting Ataxia UK has become like a second full-time job for me.
Finding out that I inherited the SCA6 gene was, in a way, a positive thing for my father. He seems to have become more comfortable with his condition and is doing more to make his future a more accessible one. This month, I’ve made him a director of my company – my CFO – and we’re setting up a support group in Preston to enable local people who have ataxia or are close to someone who does to share their stories and resources. Ataxia UK is my businesses chosen charity for as long as I’m in business, and I’m lucky to be able to weave this connection in to community events that we’re a part of to raise awareness for the charity too.
I could’ve received my test results and been terrified of what the next day might bring every single day. I could’ve seen it as a reason to abandon what I always wanted to achieve, but I’m 23-years-old; what sort of life would that be? I’ve used my results to forge a new path and use my expertise in marketing to reach new people and teach them about ataxia. I’m not the sort of woman to back away from a challenge, so I’m using every day to better small businesses and do what I’ve always wanted to do: working for myself is a challenge, and so is having a degenerative neurological condition always looming on the horizon, but neither of these are reasons to give up.
Arran Eleanor Rigney