In this interview we will be talking to the professional, dedicated and wonderfully creative Natalie Hewitt of Hewitt & Carr Architects
Firstly let’s take a quick look at the background of the company. Established in 2011, Hewitt & Carr Architects are a leading Stoke-on-Trent based architectural firm passionate about enhancing and delighting the communities they work and live in. Their mission is to create authentic places that promote vitality within their region and enrich lifes within their communities and cities. They specialise in providing innovative and creative solutions for every architectural services opportunity.
We were fortunate enough to meet Nat and Mark at our Business for Breakfast referral networking group in Leek and quickly became very close business friends, we realised that we had a lot in common with the dynamic duo echoing our own dedication to customer care and the clients experience from the beginning of a project to the end.
Without delay let’s pass it over to Nat where she will explain her background, how Hewitt and Carr Architects originated, and their exciting future!
What got you interested in the sector you are in?
‘My early years were spent, like many other sport driven young adults, wanting to be a P.E teacher, however as my education progressed into A levels I realised that it wasn’t the career path for me. Having achieved my highest grade at GCSE in Graphic Design I found myself forging an affinity with the process of turning a figment of my own imagination and creativity into something tangible. This fascination was reinforced at A level, and led to the success of my product design coursework. At the time I was chairperson of the school council and, due to a fire, circumstances dictated a need for new external seating. I therefore embarked on designing a new bench for the school, and am very proud that six were commissioned and paid for by local businesses. I believe it is this early success that gave me the determination and drive to succeed in everything I do.
It soon became apparent that my design skills were not focused in one area, but I was sure I wanted to pursue a creative career. I was beginning to look into my options when architecture was suggested by my tutors. This suggestion captured my interest and I began to take notice of the built environment. My final decision came whilst walking down a street in my home town of Leek, Staffordshire. I came across The Grand Theatre and Hippodrome which had originally opened in 1909 but had recently fallen into disrepair. I was appalled to see part of the town’s history reduced to this sorry state and all I could see were the possibilities to once again bring it back to its former glory.’
What do you love about your job?
‘Where do I start? To some it looks like my job is just about drawing pictures and colouring them in but what they perhaps don’t realise is the amount of work that goes into it – after all it has taken me 9 years of training to get to this level.
Every project is different and every client wants or even needs something which will ultimately change the way they live, work or play – that is what I love. The chance to change lives – use what I’ve learnt to help realise people’s dreams and ambitions. People don’t always think about the built environment in which they live other than the small bit they call home, so my job is to think about it for them.’
What are the negatives about your sector and how do you differ?
‘I think, especially in the more rural areas and smaller towns and cities the architectural profession still comes across as being quite stuffy. We are creative people and therefore I believe should be in a creative environment. Clients should be able to relate to you – feel comfortable about discussing the way they live and how their family operates in their home. The commercial clients however should see a professional outfit that can think outside of the box and provide them with a good quality design for the right price. It is this flexibility that HCA has set out to create. Our small studio in Cheadle, Staffordshire is home to a real creative bunch of people and we think that comes across in our approach to the profession as a whole.’
What are your aspirations for the future?
‘With regards HCA we have our eyes firmly fixed on a property to act as our show case and headquarters. It takes some imagination at this stage but hey our future is set.
As for me, well I haven’t really stopped – I left school at 18, went to university and trained for 9 years and I am now the co-director of one hell of an architectural practice about to take Staffordshire by storm so I’m kind of living my future. The only thing left to hope for is a place to call home, on my own little piece of England, which has been designed, developed and built by me.’
What advice would you give to someone wanting to work in your sector?
‘Architecture isn’t something you do for the money. You take on architecture for the love of design – for that moment in your life when you can say to family and friends “hey I designed that you know”’
You are involved in a networking group, which one is that and why did you join?
‘HCA are members of BforB Leek. Introduced to it by our accountant Karen Lowe of Geens, we thought it would be a good opportunity to meet people. Being new to business I don’t think we would have come this far without the support and guidance of those people in that room. We are proud to say we’re a member and will continue to actively seek referrals for our fellow members – Cheers Guys.’
What’s happening in your business right now that you’d like people to know?
‘Having been established only twelve months I am pleased to say we are very busy, having achieved 120 commissions we continue to bring in new and exciting opportunities both in the residential and commercial sectors.’
What are your 3 rules of success?
- Treat every job as though it’s your first.
- Always wear a smile.
- We abide by our mantra – We will design anything from a toilet to a temple.
I’d personally like to say that I really enjoyed reading this interview, Nat’s a great, professional and creative person to know who never fails to share her experience and provide guidance to her colleagues and business friends at every turn. Maybe we can grab Mark next time…??
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