About Us

meet the team

Family Run Since 2012

We are Launch North West, a family-run branding & events agency based in Atherton, Greater Manchester. 

Since 2012 we have been delivering events to provide equal opportunities for business of all sizes by providing an affordable platform for them to promote their products and services to a local audience. 

10 years and Global pandemic later our method helps small business owners, sole traders and entrepreneurs define, create and amplify their brand to reach their targeted audience.  

Nichola Howard

Managing Director

My Story

I took off on my own journey after leaving college in the mid-90s. Much to my mum's dismay, I found myself working at a local sewing factory. Despite my passion for learning and being with my friends, I had my own career aspirations. Starting as a production line seamstress for Marks and Spencer, I worked my way up to become a pattern cutter and an integral part of the team...

My Story...

In retrospect, my experience in the design room provided valuable insights into running a business. I learned the importance of efficient processes and the impact of time and motion. 

People Focussed 

Expanding my skills in handmade soft furnishings, I joined the John Lewis Partnership in the early noughties', a renowned name in retail. Working for such a prestigious brand was an honour, and their employee-centric approach left a lasting impression on me.  

Their trust in me led to my first taste of entrepreneurship. As part of their furnishing advisory team, I worked on-site in clients' homes, ensuring their satisfaction. My association with the esteemed John Lewis brand helped me attract my own clients and I built my first business alongside my contractual obligations reaching a professional climax after project managing the design and fit of handmade soft furnishings throughout a five-story townhouse in Bristol opposite the Clifton Suspension Bridge in 2009. 

Downs & Ups  

The financial crisis of 2008 eventually had its impact, and in 2010, I became a mum at the age of 32. The following year, I returned to my hometown of Atherton and welcomed my daughter into the world. After a year of maternity leave, I was eager to resume work. 

I needed to get out and about, however, the events I attended proved disappointing. In 2012, I teamed up with a heavily pregnant Jo and we took matters into our own hands by organising local artisan markets. Our first attempt attracted over 1300 visitors. 

Our events quickly outgrew the venues available to us with our last event attracting over 4500 visitors for little financial reward, but we were learning.  

Finding our Feet 

In 2014, another local business approached us to help them hold a business expo in our neighbouring town, we wanted to provide an affordable opportunity for businesses of all shapes and sizes to network and build those all-important relationships.  

This marked the beginning of our journey into the world of business expos. We took our expo model to Blackpool in 2015 and held our first digital business expo at Media City in 2016. Collaborating with industry giants like Microsoft, IBM, Google, and Tech North Advocates, empowering business owners to unzip their digital potential through embracing digital transformation. 

In 2017, the Digital Marketing Roadshow addressed prevalent issues in the digital marketing industry and connected businesses with trusted partners stopping in Blackpool, Preston and Wigan. Our Digital Debates focussed on the importance of education to guard against exploitation and we brought Women Leaders in the Tech industry together to discuss the opportunities the digital marketing industry offered, specifically for women. 

Ups & Downs 

By 2019, Launch was hosting over 25 networking events and three regional expos annually, with a loyal customer base of over 300 businesses and an online audience of 6 million per event, going in to 2020 we were thriving. 

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck 60% of our business disappeared overnight. 

Building a business is hard but by surrounding yourself with the right people anything is possible, covid proved to us our way is the right way, people matter much more than profits. 

Have Belief 

I firmly believe that face-to-face events are instrumental in revitalising the current economic landscape, particularly because of the opportunities they create and with limited support available for small businesses it’s vital to build a network of people you can trust on your doorstep. 

By leveraging our marketing skills and fostering collaborations with local businesses like us, we are committed to a community-driven approach that benefits everyone involved. 


Sense of direction

Other Roles

Wigan President of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce.

Empress of Expos.

jo leigh

Creative & Marketing Director


Strategic Thinking
Digital Marketing


BA (Hons) Degree in Digital Marketing – First Class.

Digital Marketing Apprenticeship – Distinction.

IDM Certificate in Digital and Data Driven Marketing.

My Story

Ever since I can remember, I've had a passion for singing. My mum's a massive Motown fan, and she definitely passed on her musical taste to me. Besides singing, I had an eye for drawing too!  

When I finished high school, I had no clue what I wanted to do. I was a good student and left with 10 GCSEs (7 Bs and 3 Cs), It bothered me a bit that I never quite achieved an 'A.'  

My Story...

College seemed like the natural next step, so off I went, obtaining A-levels in psychology and English. 

But I still didn’t know what I wanted to do as a career, I decided against going to university so I needed a job. 
Early Days 

Careers advice in those days was practically non-existent, instead of furthering my education, I briefly joined my sister Nichola at a sewing factory, but funnily enough, I never learned to sew.  

From there I went on to work as a temp at British Gas in their warehouse before life took a turn and I got made redundant. After that, I ended up in a call centre for a utility company where I stayed for a whopping 17 years. 

I can't say I loved it; there were some good moments, like meeting one of my best friends and working with amazing people. At times, I even got to work in departments I enjoyed. But truth be told, my mental health suffered greatly. 

Challenges and Inspiration 

During one challenging time, I sought solace with Nichola in Cambridge. There, I saw first-hand the fun she had working for herself. It was usually all hands-on deck, so I even pitched in and helped her in the sewing room, tackling the most enormous pair of curtains you have ever seen.  

That's when it hit me—I wanted to work alongside her. The only obstacle?  

She was over 180 miles away. 

Fast forward a decade and Nichola finally moved back home, and Launch Events started the following year. 

The dream was getting closer! 

Financial responsibilities and the need to support my young family meant it took another five years before I could join the business full-time. However, Nichola really struggled to find the right people to help her with online marketing, so I'd always been involved behind the scenes.  

Educating Jo 

It was during this time that my love for marketing developed. I devoured every bit of knowledge I could find on the internet, and I gained practical experience by marketing the company from the very beginning. 

Then in 2018 we met the team at UCLan whilst I was looking into different qualifications. I wanted a credible qualification, something that would solidify my experience.  

So, at the ripe old age of 39, I started my university journey. Over the next 3 years I studied through a global pandemic, homeschooled my three children ("homeschooled" is a loose term) and contributed to diversifying our business. And you know what? I earned a first-class honours degree in Digital Marketing, received a distinction in my apprenticeship, and even made the Dean's list.  

At 42, I finally achieved my first 'A'! It's undoubtedly one of my proudest moments. 

Future Focus 

Today, I utilise my natural creativity, skills, and knowledge to help businesses define their brand, create compelling visuals, and strategise effective ways to engage their customers. Understanding your customers' motivations, aligning your business goals, and leveraging your organisation's capabilities are crucial for getting the results you deserve. 

As a fellow business owner, I understand the overwhelming nature of decision-making and the uncertainty of what steps to take next. But that's where I come in.  

I'll help you strategise your next move based on what matters most to your business right now. Together, we'll cut through the overwhelm, focus your resources where they're needed most, and help you take that next step forward, one foot in front of the other. 



Our Story So Far