In Conversation With..

Issue 80

JASON KNIGHTS Managing Director of Blue Kangaroo Design, Gateshead. Blue Kangaroo are a design agency that works specifically with entertainment character licensing and toy industry clients all over the world. He is also a Northern Powerhouse Export Champion.

What were your career ambitions growing up?

From a very early age I wanted to join the army, my parents had been in the forces and my brother was serving. In 1988 I joined the Royal Corp of Signals as a Junior Leader and then carried on to the regular army.”

Tell us about your current role?

I am the MD of a company called Blue Kangaroo Design, we are a Newcastle based design agency and we are lucky enough to work with clients all over the world.

What is your proudest business achievement?

The proudest thing for me has been to build a team of highly talented designers. I see Blue Kangaroo as a family and to have a team surrounding me like we have is a hugely rewarding achievement.

How has your industry changed in the last decade?

Our industry hasn’t changed a lot over the past decade, obviously technology changes on a daily basis but the day to day operations of a creative business don’t tend to change too much. We have always worked remotely so the past few years haven’t been a huge change for us.

What are you currently working on?

We currently have over 100 projects on the go that range from developing a piece of IP, right the way through to designing and building a touring exhibition around the UK.

Tell us about the team you work with?

I am extremely proud of the team we have here at Blue Kangaroo, we have a real mix of people who are at the top of their game as well as a group of new young creatives. As a business we believe in bringing through young people who can learn on the job. The creative side of the business is headed up by Paul Richards who has a wealth of knowledge working with and managing global brands.

What is the best piece of business advice you have been given?

A mentor called Keith Whisson from Shiremoor Press has given me a huge amount of advice over the years. The main piece that I have always remembered and kept to is pay your bills as soon as you are paid. I have a very open relationship with all of our suppliers, and they get paid as soon as I do. I have found that being honest and doing the right thing has been the back bone of the business.

What has been your biggest challenge?

My biggest challenge has been keeping up with the growth of the business, we have been very fortunate over the years to work with some of the biggest names in our industry, so making sure that I am driving the business in the right direction has had its challenges.

How do you unwind outside of work?

My family are the most important thing to me, I have three grown up kids and wife who all keep me on my toes.

Favourite Book and Boxset? I’m not a huge book reader but I do like a good audiobook, one of the team gave me ”Let My people Go Surfing” by Yvon Chouinard a few years ago. He is the founder of the clothing brand Patagonia and a very reluctant business man. The book is a great listen about how to build a business when really it’s not what you feel comfortable doing. Boxset wise there’s a few, Ozark, The Sopranos, and Band of Brothers are my favourites.

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