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Founded by “two hardworking mums”, Ginger Owl Productions is a full-service live events production company with an enviable client roster that has been built on the back of hard work and an ever-evolving offering. They take time out from a hectic schedule for a moment of reflection and their first press interview.

Unlike many of its clients including MTV, Teenage Cancer Trust, BBC and the Reading Festival, Ginger Owl Productions is far from a household name, but in the live events industry it has become a respected service provider.

Julie Chennells (pictured left) and Nancy Skipper (right) founded Ginger Owl in 2013 having first met in 1988 as colleagues working for Harvey Goldsmith. The duo’s work ethic is such that up until now they have been too focused on the job at hand to take time out for a press interview, but with Ginger Owl celebrating its 10th anniversary this month, they felt the time was right.

Now with 12 full-time staff and a vast pool of freelancers whose services are regularly called upon, Ginger Owl works on countless major events throughout the UK including the Isle of Wight Festival, London Marathon, All Points East, BRIT Awards and the 6 Music Festival. Meanwhile, its burgeoning workload in the Middle East for clients including MDL Beast means it has a near permanent team there.

“Our core offerings are accreditation and artist liaison management but we do a real mixture of everything including production management, site management and front of house management; we can put our hand to anything,” says Chennells.

Skipper, who some will know from her work for the National Arenas Association and European Arenas Association, says Ginger Owl, as its name might suggest, is a rare beast in the live events industry: “It’s a relatively unique business. We’re not a big multinational, there’s no external investment, we are two mums who work really hard. We are really proud of that, and what we’ve been able to achieve.”

“We’re not a big multinational, there’s no external investment, we are two mums who work really hard. We are really proud of that.” – Nancy Skipper

Having been the first person given internet access at Harvey Goldsmith’s operation back in the late 1990s, Skipper remains tech focused, and over the last year she has worked alongside Chennells to launch two digital platforms that streamline the accreditation and artist advancing processes.

“We’ve used a lot of platforms for different events,” she says. “Sometimes platforms are supplied but they don’t do the day-to-day tasks we need, so we thought we could do better than the products that were out there.”

As a result, Ginger Owl now uses its own Go Backstage logistics and accreditation system, which they say comes into its own when working on the Middle East events, where it is used to gather information such as flight and visa details, and it provides crew with push notifications to help streamline logistics.

In the UK, Ginger owl primarily uses its Go Advance system for accreditation and advancing with artists. Chennells says it is a 360° advancing solution that has many benefits: “We do a huge amount of artists liaison. It’s a platform artists can go on to and enter their accreditation and guestlist requirements, and also answer bespoke questions that you might want to ask such as whether they need risers. You can build that from scratch and gather information on anything from vehicles to catering.”

Since Ginger Owl first took off a decade ago, the business has soared and not even Covid-19 grounded it. Among the many projects the company was involved in during the pandemic was testing regimes for Event Research Programme pilot events such as Download and The BRIT Awards. It was also kept busy working with Feature Medical at its unit in Warner Bros.’ Leavesden Studios.

Looking ahead to a summer of back-to-back events on the schedule, the duo has little time to reflect but they are both naturally proud of their achievements, not least that they have built a female-led operation into a thriving business in a sector historically dominated by men.

“We’re self-made, neither of us had relatives or any links to the industry when we started,” says Chennells. “We met 25 years ago, went on to start our own company, and we’re still going strong and developing every year. For us to reach 10 years and where we’ve got to as a business, the technologies we’re developing and the work that we’re able to offer our staff, we’re very proud of that.”

Says Skipper, “We want to be respected for our merits as event organisers, rather than women event organisers. We do what we do very well and we just happen to be women. Thankfully, there are a lot more women in senior positions in the events industry than when we started but it is frustrating that having been in it for 25 years us being women is even a consideration. Eventually, it won’t even be a thing anymore – we’re getting there.”