Dan Greene started his career twelve years ago working at various top boutique agencies around London. In 2010 he settled at Wolff Olins where he’s now Creative Director – overseeing projects with Virgin Media, Hive, EE, Google and many more. But today we’re talking to Dan about his side project in collaboration with his wife Anna. Milk + Poop is a new venture, on a mission to help new parents get their nursery space looking tip top without breaking the bank. Here Dan tells us how the project came about and where it’s heading…
D.A.D: How many kids do you have and what are their ages?
DG: One boy. 16 months. ‘Spirited’ I think people would say.
D.A.D: Tell us a bit about your career so far?
DG: After graduating from Ravensbourne, I started working for what would be considered traditional design studios creating books, brochures, (very basic) websites and small identities. After a few years I found myself becoming more interested in having a bigger impact asking how creativity could help big businesses become something different and less concerned with what felt like quite insular design conversations. Basically, I wanted my work to have more reach and influence and was fortunate enough to find my way to Wolff Olins (design agency) where I’ve been ever since, working my way up to Creative Director.
D.A.D: You recently launched Milk + Poop with your wife. What was the catalyst for setting it up?
DG: We felt there was a big opportunity. We were trying to do up our son’s nursery and put simply, we were struggling. A lot of the stuff was cutesy rubbish and lots of baby blue. We felt there was room for a brand in this sector that was a bit more honest in its tone while providing nicely designed, contemporary nursery products. It also gave my wife and I the opportunity to work together on something we’re passionate about. My wife, Anna, was head of digital marketing at EE, so our skills are quite complimentary.
D.A.D: It’s a great company name – how did you come up with it?
DG: We wanted to develop a name that was distinctly different from anything in the sector and importantly, captured the attitude of the brand. We’d had a few conversations with friends about the reality of parenting and on more than one occasion, the sentiment of ‘well, in the first year all you’re dealing with is feeding and dirty nappies’. We felt it would be cool to take this really relatable honesty and flip it into our brand name.
D.A.D: What’s the response been so far?
DG: The response has been great. It feels like the brand has struck a chord with people – particularly from those who have started something themselves, either while maintaining their day job or going all in on a complete career change. It certainly gets more respect when people realise we’ve done it while raising a one year old.
D.A.D: Setting up a new business whilst keeping up the day job and looking after a little one is quite a big undertaking. How do you juggle it all?
DG: Being completely honest, it’s been really difficult. Anna is working her socks off in the two days our boy is in nursery, as well as working every evening and most weekends – she’s never off. I tend to work Sundays, usually working my way through the list Anna has accumulated for me throughout the week.
D.A.D: Any plans to expand the offer in the future?
DG: For sure. In the short-term we’re hoping to expand the product range and collaborate with other like-minded brands or individuals. However, the philosophy at the heart of the business is about making things easier for parents, this gives us a lot of wiggle room to move into different, but related areas.
I still enjoy the challenge of using creativity to shape and change businesses, but there’s much more to life – namely being with my family.
D.A.D: It sounds like a great philosophy. How much time went into thinking through the offer and how to give it legs beyond ‘nice stuff hanging on nursery walls’? We’re guessing this is where both your skill-sets come into play?
DG: We spent a lot of time thinking through the different areas of potential, and also what we should start with at launch. For us, it was about getting the brand into the world with a strong selection of products – we didn’t want it to feel amateurish, but also had to be realistic about initial investment. With the brand and product offering in good shape the foundation is there to continue to establish our reputation, making any future product or service offers more credible.
D.A.D: Has having a kid changed your outlook on design and your career?
DG: It has completely changed my outlook. I’ve never been a designer that spends weekends screen-printing or having debates about typefaces down the pub, so I’ve always found parking the geekery at the front door quite easy. However, I have always been pretty career focused, so for me this is where the big change has happened. I’ve embraced being selfish. I’ve changed my working hours to start earlier and finish earlier, and I’m very disciplined about finishing on time. I’m now the guy who rejects meetings if I don’t need to be there. I still enjoy the challenge of using creativity to shape and change businesses, but there’s much more to life – namely being with my family.
D.A.D: So, it’s more about finding ways to work smarter rather than less?
DG: Absolutely. Although less would be nice.
D.A.D: Have you found being a dad informs your day job – have you tackled any briefs aimed at kids?
DG: I haven’t yet, but would love to. I have found all my work now features at least one visual showing a baby, or a dad with a baby, which is admittedly odd.
D.A.D: Any top tips for new parents out there?
DG: Ignore the NCT perfect parent vibe. There will always be those folks that outwardly project everything is plain sailing but everyone finds it tough, one way or another. Just get them through the first year and you’ve done a good job.
D.A.D: What can we expect to see next from Milk + Poop?
DG: Short-term we’re expanding the range and refining what we already have. Next year is all about making more friends – attending trade shows and really focusing on perfect collaborations. It’s exciting times!