First Dates for those who create: the power couple behind Nor-Folk and The Click

Date
17 February 2016
Reading Time
5 minute read

Bobby and Fiona Burrage’s relationship started off as one of designer and account director, but developed into husband and wife, and parents of a little three-year-old Burrage. They met when Bobby hired Fiona at his Norwich-based agency The Click, and the pair has since launched their own graphic design-led lifestyle brand, Nor-Folk. Here they are, talking about the ups and downs of living together, parenting together and working together.

Bobby Burrage

How did you meet?

About two or three years after founding The Click (during 2007), I needed somebody to run the studio, manage our client accounts and generally take care of anything that would distract me from design work. I was told about Fiona by one of our clients – he sung her praises and assured me that she’d be perfect for The Click and could help us develop the business. I prepared a “job advert” and asked him to make sure Fiona saw it. It wasn’t until months after she joined us that I told her she was the only person interviewed for the job. She was head-hunted and didn’t know it!

How did you know you could work together?

After first meeting, it was about 18 months before Fiona and I became “an item”. During which time we established a great working relationship and struck up an amazing friendship. There was something about her – I can’t explain it – but I knew I could trust her with my company – my life even. By the time we were a couple, Fiona was already running The Click – I was just a designer, doing my best to do good work, meet deadlines and oversee the team. It was Fiona that was strategically running the business.

What’s been your favourite project you’ve worked on together?

This is an easy one. It has to be the creation and launch of our own brand, Nor–Folk. Having spent over a decade creating brand identities for our clients, it was so liberating to do it for ourselves. We were suddenly our own client and could do things how we wanted. Nor–Folk has been up and running for a year now and it’s genuinely part of our lifestyle – it’s part of our family – our son Stanley is very much part of it too. Together, we are the Nor–Folk.

What makes your [creative] relationship special?

We respect each other’s opinion. There’s a genuine belief that it’s a team effort – very little of our work, if any, is solely created by one of us. There’s always something from us both. The other day I was preparing a branding presentation for a client and, with just a day until the meeting, Fiona came up with a killer strapline, which made the whole job twice as good in an instant. 

What’s the best thing about Fiona?

Fiona is so hardworking and passionate. She doesn’t have the ability to do things by half – she gives everything she’s got and more – whether it be a creative project, playing sport or being a mum and a wife. She is a huge inspiration to me. Her energy and passion is infectious.

What’s the worst thing about Fiona?

As a by-product of working hard, Fiona really struggles to switch off and relax. It’s a cliché to hear about a creative person waking in the night with a new idea, however, this is my reality. The times I have been woken at 3am to hear the words “I’ve got an idea…” is ridiculous. I’ve been robbed of days’ worth of sleep as a result of Fiona’s non-stop “thinking.”

What does your future together look like?

We often discuss our future, our plans and our dreams – they are constantly evolving – especially since starting a family. I think, as people, both Fiona and I need goals – we are naturally driven to do better. On Saturday 13 February, we will have been together seven years. The journey we’ve had together during this time has been quite incredible – roll on the next seven years.

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The Click: Humpty Dumpty Brewery

Fiona Burrage

How did you meet?

The very first time I met Bobby was when I nervously walked up on stage to graduate from Norwich University of the Arts (formerly Norwich School of Art and Design). He was the guest speaker on the day. A couple of months later I saw him again at a design awards ceremony (when I worked for a competitor) and was in awe of him. Given his age and that we weren’t in London, he’d achieved a lot with his work. As we’re writing our answers independently, I’ll be interested to see whether Bobby remembers this part.

How did you know you could work together?

I’d been working for another agency for a year or so after art school and a mutual friend suggested I get in touch, as The Click were looking for an account director. I was really nervous during my interview – thankfully Bobby took the lead. We spent the next 18 months working closely together and were best friends before, when in Barcelona, at a friend’s 30th, we officially started dating on 13 February 2009.

What’s been your favourite project you’ve worked on together?

Launching Nor-Folk. We’ve worked on some very special projects at The Click, but I don’t think anything beats being your own client. We launched our graphic design-led lifestyle brand, Nor-Folk, a year ago. It was born out of me documenting our lives with our young family on Instagram. Initially focusing on creating unisex apparel for children with a graphic design, Scandinavian and minimalist aesthetic, we then broadened out into adults and homewares. One year on, we now have more than 50 stockists worldwide, have a distribution house and are collaborating with creatives around the world. Next week, we are shooting a video with tokyobike to launch their new children’s line, Little toykobike. Every day a new opportunity presents itself and I thrive upon being (creatively) free to pursue what interests me. 

What makes your [creative] relationship special?

Mutual respect, love of design and shared ambition.

What’s the best thing about Bobby?

Support. He recognises when I need help, before I’ve even asked. 

What’s the worst thing about Bobby?

Unintentional pressure. Balancing a child, marriage and two businesses takes some juggling. Bobby doesn’t intend on adding to my stress, but he will point out when I should be doing something better or different. Unfortunately he’s usually right.

What does your future together look like?

As our son, who is almost three, gets older, our journeys and travel destinations will become more exotic which will further broaden our outlook. I envisage more collaborations with other designers and brands – expanding Nor–Folk’s offering. In the next couple of years, we are set to build our eco-home nestled in the heart of the Norfolk Broads – the perfect place for us all to unwind and enjoy some time out of the studio and city we live in.

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Nor-Folk: The Wonder Years Collection

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Nor-Folk: Perpetual Type Calendar

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Nor-Folk: Work Hard Play Hard T-shirts

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About the Author

Emily Gosling

Emily joined It’s Nice That as Online Editor in the summer of 2014 after four years at Design Week. She is particularly interested in graphic design, branding and music. After working It's Nice That as both Online Editor and Deputy Editor, Emily left the company in 2016.

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