I’d like to introduce Christopher Heneghan from Blue Kelpie.
What was the ‘Aaahaaa’ moment when you decided to go Vegan?
I had been vegetarian for a few years and then I realised that I wan’t eating any eggs and very little dairy so I figured I might as go vegan. If I knew the issues with dairy back then I would have transitioned sooner.
When did you embrace a compassionate Vegan lifestyle?
A few years back now. I first tried being vegetarian as a kid and went vegan around the age of 16 but by my early twenties I was living an unhealthy life and I wasn’t managing to do what I wanted to.
What were the reactions of family and friends when you first embraced Veganism?
When I was younger people were surprised that I would want to do this, that was the late eighties and no one I knew was even vegetarian. Since then I get mixed reactions but a lot of people seem to admire the resolve I have and often remark how healthy I am.
Why did you start your business?
I first started making websites in 2000 but then went on a few different career paths before falling back into it in 2011 when my brother asked me to make a website for him.
What problem are you trying to solve? (Or – what’s wrong with the status quo?)
For me it’s more about being selective of my clients. I won’t do work for the resource sector and certainly not for a business selling animal products.
What’s your point of differentiation over your competitors?
Customer service. So many of my clients complain about their experiences with other web designers and they are happy just to deal with someone who is friendly, easy going and still professional.
What’s the reaction to your product/service been like?
A lot of my work comes from long term clients and word of mouth. I don’t even have a marketing budget so I guess we’re doing something right.
What is your most popular feature/product/service and why?
WordPress development is the main thing we do. We fix problems with existing sites and improve their performance. We do this work so well that other agencies contract their development work to us.
We also make great looking websites for new clients.
Tell me about your journey to get to this point, what have you done?
Life is really cool and I have been very fortunate. Of course it takes hard work and discipline to make any business work but being genuinely curious about ways to do things better and learn new skills helps us to keep up with the bigger players in our field. I love making websites. so it’s a great way to make a living
What mistakes have you made?
Motivation can be tricky at times so playing too much guitar could be one thing. I’m not really feeling the pain there.
What have you learned, and what would you differently next time?
I have learned so many ways to improve my workflow and the importance of good client relations and solid networking. I can’t say I regret anything. I appreciate the learning curve.
What advice would you give to people thinking of entering this area?
If you have an interest start making your own sites. Learn how to use a CMS like WordPress or Joomla. Try to emulate those sites that you like the best. Not everyone needs to be at the cutting edge of design in this industry but keeping up with design trends is paramount.
A degree in computer science doesn’t hurt too.
What type of customers do you attract?
I seem to attract really cool people. Local businesses that are run by friendly, easy going people. A lot of my client relationships are fantastic so meetings are like having lunch with an old friend.
What features/expansion are you planning in the next 12 months?
That’s all a bit top secret at the minute. Starting a new venture at the minute in the UK. Potential for a massive app on the horizon too.
How did you get started online and what technical challenges did you have to overcome?
Being online is obviously essential so that part was easy. The technical difficulties came from learning how not to do things first so that I can learn how to do them better next time. There were a few moments along the way that it was painful to know how many hours a project took when it had gone over but those ones were some where I really learned how to do this better.
What did you want to be when you grow up?
A TV camera man.
What do you do for fun?
Playing music, going to the beach, fun with my kids, art, writing, connecting with nature and hanging out with friends and the fellers at the ManKind Project too. There is so much to do!
How do you spread your message about veganism?
I am active on social media and I also get involved organising a few events. The main thing though is just by having conversations with those who are interested and demonstrating with my own life that it can be a good healthy lifestyle that is 100% compassionate too.
How do you think the Internet and Social Media has impacted on the Vegan World?
I think it has spread the word more than ever was possible before. It is great to see so many young people becoming vegan now and I think Facebook has played a part in this.
You can find out more about Blue Kelpie here.