• Wed. Apr 24th, 2024

North East Connected

Hopping Across The North East From Hub To Hub

Richard Forbes Simpson

AN expert in the global commerce platform Shopify has opened his first office in Hoults Yard, Newcastle.

Richard Forbes Simpson, founder and director of Graftstudio, had been running the growing business from his home, but felt it was time to open his first office – so he returned to Hoults Yard where he used to work in a co-working space, one of the first on Tyneside.

“I wanted to wait until Graftstudio was at the right stage to move into an office and that’s where I am now. I have a growing global client base mainly in the fashion, lifestyle and beverages sectors.

“Previously, I was a contractor for agencies and worked on projects for brands such as Gymshark, Victoria Beckham, Florence by Mills. The experience and visibility gained working on some of the biggest brands in the world gave me the confidence to put more focus on my business and develop my own client base.

“My services range from assisting startups with MVP projects to building fully bespoke, Shopify Plus themes for enterprise-level businesses.”

He combined his love of surfing and technology through a degree in surf science and technology and science at the University of Plymouth. As part of his degree course he had to build a website, and that was the spark that led to his career in tech.

“I became really interested in developing websites and the sites I was creating became more and more complex. After leaving university I continued to develop my skills through online courses and a lot of reading,” Richard said.

He worked in a range of web-based roles for several Northern Ireland based tech companies before joining a Shopify Plus Agency as a freelance developer. At the same time he had created Graftstudio, where he worked with his own clients.

“I first encountered Shopify while developing a website for a client and became fascinated by the platform. I decided to specialise in Shopify as there weren’t that many agencies or freelancers working with the platform and I felt there was a gap in the market. Now I can offer a complete service – occasionally working with associates – so clients can get whatever Shopify service they need through Graftstudio,” Richard said.

Richard, who is partially deaf, moved to the north east from his native south west nine years ago when his wife was appointed to a role at Newcastle University. She is now an Associate Professor in Entrepreneurship for Northumbria University.

As a freelance he’d worked from Hoults Yard’s co-working space a few years ago.

“It was one of only a few co-working spaces in Newcastle and I loved the working environment there – the place was really vibrant and supportive, and a lot different to other places. It was also within striking distance of the city centre, and the Quayside where I love walking,” explained Richard.

“So when I felt it time to open my first office, the first place I looked at was Hoults Yard. I knew I’d find my way back here, and If anything it’s even better than it was a few years ago. The range of businesses is wider, there are far more places to get food and drink and there’s a real sense of enterprise here,” he added.

While working on clients’ websites, he’s also developing his own, which will be ready in the Autumn. In the meantime, clients find him through LinkedIn and through word of mouth.

Find Richard and Graftstudio on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/richard-forbes-simpson-26b98b9/

For more information on Hoults Yard or HyHubs, log on to www.hyhubs.com.