Name: Lesley Fair and Nicola Holmes

Name of business: Custard

What do you do?
We are Event Architects. We create teams passionate about events to design and deliver events according to the objectives and requirements of the client. We nurture and love those events into existence with the trust of our clients through a creative stance on content and challenges, and we soundly underpin that with methodology – we're known as safe hands!

How did you get started?
How far back do you want to go? Both of us have been in events for most of our careers but we specifically "started" Custard during an inspired discussion about the industry over a large pot of tea (with tea playing a large part of our operation ever since!). We identified the need for a transparent approach combined with big thinking at a time when budgets were being squeezed (and when aren't they?) because we started at the crunch point of the recession in 2010. Even our supporters thought we were mad, so we can only imagine what our critics thought. But who cares? It clearly worked for someone, and six years on we're thriving, growing and still enjoying what we do with an amazing range of clients and opportunities.

Who and what inspire you?
The team, the industry, life outside the UAE, a spectrum of colour, the calm at the eye of a storm, life inside the UAE, each other, the genius in chaos, belief in anything is possible, those who pursue and achieve their dreams, clients… the list could go on.
What does being an entrepreneur mean to you?
Hard work, sleepless nights and long days combined with a lot of laughter and jazz hands. It's peaks and troughs and a great deal of "onwards and upwards!" but it comes with the reward of working with great people and delivering work we are proud of.

How do you split your time?
For both of us it's a combination of work, travel, family, friends and training. Lesley is preparing for the UK Triathlon in June and Nicola for the London Marathon in April. We also have a desire to give something back and so through our Custard Cares initiative we have supported various non-profit organisations over the years. On the whole we're both busy people that consider ourselves happy and blessed.

What is your workspace like?
The "Custard Bowl" as it's known is open plan, homely, relaxed with a good flow of energy, a busy buzz and a well stocked biscuit jar. There is a lot of natural light, plants in abundance and slippers are encouraged.

What three items can't you live without?
Yorkshire Tea bags, milk and a kettle full of water… a mug helps too but if we really are restricted to three items we'll drink out of the kettle. Not precious!
Which UAE companies do you admire?
There are too many to mention, because each does something different that is admirable. Ultimately it's not the company but the people within them that we find worthy of admiration especially those who are fulfilling their dreams, ever evolving and who give back to the industry or community. Within our field Custard is on the board of the International Live Event Association, and through our involvement we have a huge amount of respect and admiration for the collective ILEA team and the achievements it has made for the industry, and its ambitions for the future, because it's made up of volunteers with jobs and businesses. It's not easy, but it's happening.

Why is supporting small businesses so important to you?
Small business is the bedrock of the UAE. As a group of organisations we employ the most people, generate the most income, spend the most money. Small business underpins the nation, and should be important to all of us.

How can the community get involved in your business?
The community at large is welcome to join our Facebook page: and if you're in the JLT neighbourhood then do call in for a cuppa, our door is always open (literally!)!

Those in the events and communications community are invited to connect with ILEA through, and join a growing group of passionate small businesses singing with one voice.
go back!