My Story


I’m passionate about helping others. I love how creative thinking can solve problems and inspire people to achieve…”

Ann Headshoot 1200x1200pxHello. I’m Ann English.

I work as a freelance Creative Consultant in the North East of England.
My company is called Create Intrigue.

For over 25 years I’ve worked in the creative, retail and events industries.
During this time I have been lucky to work with some amazing people and
companies. I’ve also worked with the ‘BIG 3″ – Santa, Willy Wonka and Mickey Mouse!
Oh, and I’ve also been a Bond Girl and I’m married to Johnny English!

This is my story…

Creative Thinking

I’ve always loved the buzz of coming up with creative ideas to solve problems.

When studying Art with Art History at A level, I was interested in sculpture with a focused on creating 3D displays. I then went on to complete an Art Foundation course at Newcastle College of Art and Technology, specialising in Graphic Design. Followed by an HND in Visual Communications at Cleveland College of Art and Design.

I was fortunate to start my career with a high-profile job designing the window displays for The Body Shop. I was responsible for all the displays across the North East region. I’m passionate about creative thinking. I loved researching ideas, taking inspiration from The Body Shop Handbook to produce inspirational windows which featured the company’s product and seasonal promotions.

Inventing the Metrognomes

The following year I was invited to joined Centre Design, a newly established design and display company which had just been created to service the rapidly growing shopping centre market. At that time the Metrocentre was only a year old and was one of the first out-of-town shopping centres in the UK.

One of my claims to fame is I was responsible for inventing the much-loved Metrognomes. The brief from the Metrocentre was to create a MetroGnome character to use on the Christmas display.

At the time I was Studio Manager to a team of talented designers and illustrators. Bringing the team together we pooled our creative talents, skills and imagination to come up with the 4 characters instead of one.

The MetroGnomes were designed to represent the four coloured malls within the shopping centre. We named them Herbert, Sherbet, Maggot and Rusty, along with pet dinosaur called Metroshopasaurus. It was great fun every year developing their characters and adventurous storylines.

The Metrognomes have proved to be a huge visual asset for the Metrocentre. Used year on year and featured in their famous annual pantomimes. I’m proud to say they have lasted the test of time, and are still as popular with children today as they were over 25 years ago!

The Metrognomes (wide)

Christmas Day, Every Day!

For the next 25 years I went on to design and install over 500 Christmas Displays and Santa’s Grottos in all the major shopping centres throughout the UK and Europe. This included intu Metrocentre, Eldon Square and Disneyland Paris, to name but a few.

As Centre Design grew I was involved in many key roles. Working with the directors I helped build the business into the UK’s leading innovator and provider of 3D design display solutions for retail environments.

John and ann English, Charlie's Chocolate Factory

John and Ann English, Charlie’s Chocolate Factory

Charlie's Chocolate Factory Brand Identity - Designed by Ann English

Brand Identity – Designed by Ann English

Why Willy Wonka?

In 2005, whilst working at Centre Design, I co-founded a niche luxury chocolate fountain company with my husband John. Coming up with the brand identity, I named the business Charlie’s Chocolate Factory.

It all started when I was looking for unusual ideas for our 40th Birthday celebrations. I came across a video for a Chocolate Fountain on the internet, I’d never seen one before. It was great to watch guests having fun dipping delicious items such as strawberries and marshmallows into a flowing fountain of melted chocolate.

I knew I had to have one!

At that time chocolate fountains were popular in the US but not many companies were doing them in the UK. So instead of hiring one for the party, my husband John, who is an engineer, suggested that we imported the biggest and best chocolate fountain from Sephra in America and ‘Charlie’s Chocolate Factory’ was born.

For 10 years, working in parallel with the day job, we had fun providing the ultimate chocolate experience for some amazing events, weddings and special occasions across the region’s luxury 4 and 5 star hotels.

Overcoming Obstacles

Over time Centre Design became the leading provider of Seasonal 3D Displays and experiences in Europe. We were so successful that in 2011 the business was approached by a competitor, who merged both business and renamed it Fuzzwire. Sadly in 2013 they closed our site down and made everyone redundant.

I was devastated to have lost the job I loved. I also missed all the wonderful talented people I worked with. But, as they say, every cloud does have a silver lining. This was the push I needed to become a freelance creative consultant. I could now to put my years of experience, and knowledge to good use, providing business development support to North East SME’s, entrepreneurs and creative agencies.

Driving Businesses Forward

One of the first projects I worked on as a consultant was to help the Directors at Trapeze Creative to reposition the company to take advantage of a gap in the market. Over 3 months I helped then to secured £1million in new contracts. Resulting in them moving from the Toffee factory to a new production and warehouse facility, and to employ 4 full-time and 10 part-time members of staff.
PWD Bond Girl

My marketing and client services skills led me to work with Paul Windle Design, one of the world’s leading creative art studios, who work with the likes of The Walt Disney Company and Warner Bros. My focus was to increase brand awareness and gain new customers.

Due to the nature of their work everyone at Paul Windle Design has an Avatar (cartoon character). As the connection between the company, their clients and prospects I was awarded the honour of becoming The ‘Bond Girl!

As a direct result of my involvement, Paul Windle Design were featured on TV and in the press, they received an Unsung Hero Award nomination, exhibited at the Festival of Illustration, and hosted their first Open Studio event. My focused and aim high approach secured meetings with key decision makers of global brands such as ITV, Nickelodeon, Discovery Channel and Hasbro. Resulting in the company being awarded a major contract with one of the largest toy makers in the world.

One of the North East’s longest established creative agencies Sheridan Design call upon my vast bid writing skills to tender for major contracts in the culture, heritage and museum sectors. Successful tender bids I produced included the Great North Greats touring exhibition for Great North Run Culture, NewcastleGateshead Initiative’s corporate communications pack, and the contract to produce the branding, print and digital requirements for the Generation project.

Alongside this I provide hands-on visual merchandising, design and display service and training. I help retailers, brands, product and service providers who are looking to connect with their target audience to increase sales.

I have worked with The Pen Shop retail chain. Product design and manufacturing companies such as Powder Butterfly. Along with local designer-makers including textile artist Lena Archibald, Wor Brand and Hanging By A Fred.

I love to collaborate and work with creatives, coaches, consultants and independent retailers. I’ve worked with some amazing people and companies. It’s great to be able to use my skills and experience to help people solve their problems and connect businesses to their target audience.

I bring over 25 years experience of helping people turn ideas into reality; from inventing the Metrognomes, to building start-up businesses and winning contracts worth over £1million. I solve problems and deliver results by harnessing the power of #IdeasMapping™

It would be great to connect with you on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook 

Ann Sig Handwritten




Ann English, Creative Consultant

Intrigued? – Find out how I can help your business…

Book a free 30mins Discovery Call >