Virtuoso Legal Client Spotlight: Catherine Handcock, Alfol
At Virtuoso Legal we act on behalf of: multinational corporations, new businesses looking to make their mark (and everyone else in between!)
In each and every case, the goal is to help these businesses harness their IP, and take their next big step.
In this new series of blogs, Virtuoso Legal talks to some of our clients to gain insight into their journey.
This is the Virtuoso Legal Client Spotlight!
Virtuoso Legal Client Spotlight: Managing Director of Alfol, Catherine Handcock
The 2nd of our clients to take centre stage is Catherine Handcock, managing director of publisher Alfol Ltd.
Alfol Ltd. was founded in 2000 and is a specialist publishing and events company that informs and supports the UK and Ireland’s innovative hairdressing industry. They are the brains behind Creative HEAD, Layered Online and “The Big Hair Do” – alongside many more cutting-edge publications and events for the UK hairdressing market.
We were delighted to speak to Catherine to get inside her head and to talk about: growing a dynamic publishing business from the ground up, new challenges that arose during the journey, our partnership, and what the future holds!
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I am the MD of a publishing and events company specialising in the professional hairdressing industry. We launched in 2000 with a controlled circulation B2B magazine – Creative HEAD – that we mailed out into UK hair salons, and have since grown upwards and outwards to encompass digital (website, targeted e-shots, social media); live events (Most Wanted and The It List awards; Salon Smart business networking event for salon owners/managers; and The Coterie – a members club for hair and fashion professionals); as well as B2C concepts Layeredonline.com and The Big Hair Do (the UK’s biggest hair party, where 100 salons throw open their doors to consumers for an evening of education, inspiration and Prosecco-fuelled fun).
Basically, we are experts in all things hair-related – whether for professionals or consumers.”
What challenges do you face when it comes to doing what you do?
As a small, independent, creative business, we grow by instinct rather than strategically. If someone has a good idea on a Monday, it tends to be in place by the Friday – we are extremely agile, and our employees have a huge say in the future direction of the business. Our customers want to communicate with our readers, which is both exciting and lucrative, but communication channels are changing constantly and rapidly, so in our desire always to offer the most relevant channels to our clients, we often find ourselves in unknown territory. Asserting ourselves and protecting ourselves in the Wild West of the internet is a constant challenge.”
How does Virtuoso Legal help you out?
Virtuoso have helped us out on two key occasions.
The first was in relation to a website that we had custom-built by a web developer who was reluctant to enter into a contract. We had invested a huge amount of money in the website, and there came a point where we needed to take it further (and to a new developer), but the original developer tried to hold us hostage and refused to release the code. Virtuoso helped us to tackle the developer and reinforce our ownership over the IP of the website.
The second time we turned to Virtuoso was when a French publishing company challenged our right to publish a digital version of Runway – our bi-annual review of hair trends from the international catwalk collections – on the global publishing platform, Issuu. This company tried to assert they had European trademarks on the name “Runway” and they also claimed we were in breach of copyright on the content we had published. Virtuoso ascertained that the company did not hold the trademarks they asserted, and nor were their claims of copyright breach valid. Issuu subsequently reinstated our content on their site, and normal service was resumed!”
“As a small, independent, creative business, we grow by instinct rather than strategically. If someone has a good idea on a Monday, it tends to be in place by the Friday… asserting ourselves and protecting ourselves in the Wild West of the internet is a constant challenge.”
What does the future hold now?
We will continue to innovate and push into new communication channels – it’s what comes naturally to us, what our customers love about us, and it’s how we always stay one step ahead of our competitors. I feel like we know and understand print like the back of our hand, but online/digital is a different matter – you have to fight so much harder to retain ownership of your content and brand equity here. It helps knowing that we can turn to experts like Virtuoso, who really know their stuff, to protect us and fight the battles that need to be won.”
Alfol and its many incredible services and brands are typical of a business who find themselves ‘suffering from success’. Simply put, for a businesses that is run as dynamically, and grows as fast as Alfol does, there can often be a number of intellectual property hoops and hurdles to address quickly as they crop up. If unaddressed these hurdles and hoops can quickly become a brick wall that stop businesses from continuing to grow. In the case of Alfol we were delighted to deal with these issues for Catherine quickly so that they could continue to focus on their incredible brands, magazines and events.”
A big thanks to Catherine for talking to us; we can’t wait to see how Alfol’s brands continue to go from strength to strength – and we look forward to supporting them in doing so wherever we can.
“It helps knowing that we can turn to experts like Virtuoso, who really know their stuff, to protect us and fight the battles that need to be won.”
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Virtuoso Legal Client Spotlight: Catherine Handcock was written by Dr. Martin Douglas Hendry