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Vanessa Cazaboun, E+C Associates

LSBU Architecture graduate Vanessa Cazaubon harnesses her passion in sustainable design ideas through her business, E+C Associates

Vanessa Cazaubon is as serious about sustainability as she is about architecture and design, which is why it’s an integral part of her business, E+C Associates. Vanessa met her original co-founder whilst studying Architecture and, after a challenging first couple of years that saw her take sole control, her sustainable design agency is going from strength to strength.

“The idea of sustainable design was always a big thing as part of my studies and covers many things, including minimising the damage done to the environment. It comes as a moral responsibility and we kept that in mind when originally starting our business. It’s certainly key to what I do now,” she explains.

A rocky start

In the first year, the business pair found that implementing their ideas wasn’t always straightforward. Struggling to secure clients at the start, Vanessa and her partner helped each other to stay positive and motivated. “Building a business is definitely not easy,” she says. “We hit lots of bumps in the road on the way and kept getting close but never landed a client, and so inevitably we began to feel negative about what we were doing. But we never gave up. We would pick each other up and keep going, which helped us to realise that, sometimes, the biggest obstacle to success can be ourselves.”

That all-important first project

Completing a project for a business moving premises to a large 98m2 office was the breakthrough E+C needed, and proved to be the springboard for better things. “In a big space, the challenge is to make the most of light, but we did so by using glass walls that made the most of that natural resource,” Vanessa says. The clients were delighted with the results, which sees daylight stream through the space and allows air to circulate naturally without the need for expensive air circulation equipment.

Moving forward

Much has changed since those early days, with Vanessa now running the business on her own after her partner left to pursue other activities. “There’s no doubt that it has been difficult, but although he has officially left he is still always a phone call away and I have other sources for support. I think it has developed me more to take on this responsibility and having to ensure the quality of work is delivered, but overall it’s great.”

Rewards and challenges

With Vanessa clearly relishing the responsibility she has for her business, what does she enjoy most about being her own boss? “Meeting new people and helping others, and seeing the satisfaction of clients when they realise they don’t have to struggle or feel confused any more. As an example, one of our clients was outsourcing overseas but felt vulnerable, and we succeeded in meeting the requirements and more.

“In terms of overcoming challenges, I have found ways to prioritise and manage my time, even ways to mitigate work for admin, which is repetitive. A lot of preparation work is needed in order to work for your client so preparation is hard work, but once you get the job it’s good from there. I may be running things single-handedly now, but practice makes perfect they say, and so it won’t be difficult for very long!”