Women In Design feat. Natalie Minto

Introducing Natalie Minto, co-founder and Operations Director of The Onlii, a sustainable creative agency. With a corporate background in process improvement and procurement, Natalie brings fresh perspectives to agency operations. Since 2021, she’s championed diversity and invested in creative talent. Here she shares 5 things she’s learned and her thoughts on role models.


Olivia @ ADLIB: Could you please introduce yourself as well as your background?

I’m Natalie, the co-founder and Operations Director for a sustainable creative agency called The Onlii.  We set the agency up in 2021 and achieved B Corp certification in May 2023.

Prior to starting the agency with my co-founders (who have lots of experience in creative agencies) I had never worked in an agency before but I actually think it’s an asset as I view things in a different way and feel like I bring a fresh pair of eyes and point of view.

I also have a lot of transferable skills as prior to joining The Onlii I worked on projects and programmes for a number of large organisations within the private, public and third sector.  My career prior to The Onlii was very corporate with a focus on new processes and procurement, which all help me in my current role.  This has helped me to put to put the foundations in place for The Onlii and enabled the Creative and Client Services teams to do what they do best.


One of the key things I’ve focused on since setting up The Onlii is investing in our workforce and creative talent.


As part of our core values we focus on 7 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, including “Gender Equality” and “Reduced Inequalities”.  So I’ve been learning about the lack of diverse talent within the creative industry.  Which has led me to reach out to organisations like Black Girls In Design and Women in Design, to understand how we can bring on board future generations of creatives at The Onlii and across the industry as a whole.

 

Olivia @ ADLIB: What are 5 “stand-out things” you’ve learned that you’d like to pass on to your peers as well as the future generation of talent within your sector?

  1. Always ask the question. Don’t worry about looking stupid or being dismissed. It’s better to feel comfortable that you know what you are doing and to have a clear scope, prior to starting work or a project.  It can also spark new ideas or ways of working once you fully understand what you need to do.
  2. Never stop learning. Throughout my career I have always enjoyed taking on new projects and learning new skills. I also love to read, anything from books, Substack and magazines. Plus I listen to a lot of podcasts which give me ideas and insights on how people have managed situations (including running a business).  This also helps me to keep an eye out for what’s happening within the sustainability space, new trends and pop culture.
  3. Be decisive and don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself. Women in the  workforce are not really encouraged to do this but it’s something I wish I had started doing earlier in my career.
  4. Embrace change. It will help you within your career and life and will make you more adaptable.
  5. If you are not enjoying a role don’t feel you need to stay because its comfortable or you need to work a certain length of time before doing something else. I have always moved around quite a lot as I wanted to work for different companies and within different industries and I think this is what gave me the confidence to pivot and start working in the creative industry.

 

Olivia @ ADLIB: What is your take on the importance of role models?

I think that role models are important as they can offer critical advice and at time provide you with a blueprint for a scenario that you might be facing in your work or personal life.

They can also help when you are not feeling at your best for e. g. if you are feeling anxious or if imposter syndrome is kicking in.

I have been fortunate enough to have some great role models over the years who have always been happy to offer advice or support and they’ve helped me become the person I am now.

 


If you’re inspired by the stories and wisdom shared in our ‘Women In Design’ series and would like to contribute your own experiences, we’d love to hear from you. Creatives at all levels, please email Olivia and your story could be the next we feature.
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Olivia Lowe