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The Cousin Directory

Lynsay Biss
May 5, 2020

As both owners of a small business and freelancers, we have found ourselves with many more questions than answers over the last few weeks. And we’re pretty sure we’re not alone. We thought it would be helpful to put all of our findings in one directory so that our clients, Cousins, founders and freelancers can access information swiftly and easily.

So here it is, The Cousin Directory for money & support, community help, tips for your commute and of course some inspiring events going on in your area. We will be aiming to update this regularly so check back for the latest information, and please do let us know of any cool things you’re doing that warrant a feature.

Money & support

Live small business support

Enterprise Nation offer small business support, and have responded brilliantly to the crisis with exhaustive information on your rights as a small business or freelancer. Take advantage of the live chat where you can pose the most specific of questions for a quick and reliable response.

Up to the minute government grant information

In our opinion the government website has never been that user-friendly or clear in its language, but if you want up to the minute guidance from the people setting the policy there’s no better choice.

Impacts on entrepreneurs

The UK Federation for Small Businesses has brought together digestible and focussed information on Covid-19, and is running webinars on how to get through this difficult time. The current seminar outlines the support available from local councils.

Coronavirus, IR35 and the self-employed

IPSE, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed, have created a Covid-19 hub, basically a one-stop shop for how this impacts you, and the options available. One of the Cousins attended their most recent webinar and found it very helpful, both for Covid and the wider-reaching IR35 debate.

The personal impact on money matters

Bectu is the union for the creative arts, specifically the media and entertainment sectors, but their Q&As are really very helpful for all freelancers, and cover aspects that we weren’t even ready to consider, like impact on pensions, and what it actually means to be furloughed.

3 months free with Adobe CC

Adobe are offering three free months on Creative Cloud subscriptions at the moment. All you have to do is log in and pull up the chat bot - you need to get through to talk to a real person, not just the robot, but after that it's a super-quick confirmation, no questions asked. A very welcome initiative in the current climate, thanks Adobe.

How can I help?

If you’ve been furloughed, or you’re having to take a break from your business, you might want to get involved with one of the many brilliant initiatives being set up. Or you might want to make like fashion designer Phoebe English and see how you could pivot your business to help. Here are a few initiatives we were particularly struck by.

Choose Love reported these statistics on Mother’s Day, with people opting to stay home and donate to refugee Mothers instead of inadvisedly visiting their own

Mutual Aid UK

This site pulls together all of the community support groups popping up all over the country, and just the sheer volume makes for some positive reading. It covers groups supporting those in self isolation, and has a list of resources for minority groups navigating the crisis.

Choose Love

If like us you want to make a contribution but are unsure where to put your money, Choose Love is a brilliant option. They support refugees, providing essential supplies to some of the world’s most vulnerable people – and they’re a group who are particularly at risk to Coronavirus, with overcrowded camps and poor sanitation. The brilliance of this initiative is that you can purchase specific goods so you know exactly where your money is going – you can gift everything from a basic washkit to a legal package designed to help safeguard someone’s future.

Emergency Designer Network

London designers Phoebe English, Holly Fulton and Bethany Williams have responded to the crisis by asking how their businesses can adapt to be of service – the result for them is protective face masks, millions of them. It’s not been an easy task for so many reasons, but now even huge fashion houses like Balenciaga and Gucci are following suit. Hiut Denim have also joined the Emergency Designer Network – they are currently appealing for fabric to make scrubs instead of their usual selvedge jeans.


If you want to promote communications for the good of all, take inspiration from two students at the Miami Ad School in Hamburg who came up with an ingenius spec ad campaign for Netflix, showing spoilers of their top shows in a bid to get people to #staythefuckhome. The digital billboards never got made, but it certainly showed how big business could support the government message as well as their own. This really is the time for businesses to do some creative thinking.

Nunhead Knocks

Featured on Mutual Aid, we couldn’t ignore Nunhead Knocks in our list – the website was built and run by our First Cousin Tom Alexander, and goes to show how much good you can achieve in a very very short space of time. The portal connects people in the local area to vulnerable and self-isolating residents, as well as housing reams of information on businesses who have pivoted to help, such as local grocers and markets now doing delivery. If you would like to set up something similar, or are in the area and want to sign up, I know Nunhead would love to hear from you.

Things to do on your commute

So some of us will have found ourselves with an extra hour or two in the day (if you have kids, feel free to ignore most of this…). While we’re not all Gwyneth Paltrow and won’t be nailing Grade 8 oboe any time soon, it does feel like precious time that could get you into a whole new routine. Here are a few things you could do while tethered to the shower pole.

As usual in times of crisis, the meme game is strong


Automatic writing

This is a technique I was taught on a course run by writing collective Dark Angels – who count our very own First Cousin Gill among them. It was quite a revelation for me – as an overthinker and perpetual sufferer of busy brain, the idea of writing continuously without checking back and self-editing was novel, and completely addictive. They recommend doing ten minutes at the beginning of every day, to unlock your mind for the day ahead. It really works, and still gives you 50 minutes of your “commute” to watch Netflix.


Poetry writing prompts

Be inspired by the literature on the tube and use these prompts to write your own piece of poetry. I personally struggle to start without a brief, the world is just too infinite, so using these prompts from the Poetry Society might just unlock those words to get started. What have you got to lose?

Artist Activity Pack

Ok so if you have children your commute might look a little different, but there are some very cool things out there to do. Firstsite have created packs in collaboration with artists like Antony Gormley, Gillian Wearing and Idris Khan, with ideas for crafts that require no more than an A4 piece of paper. Available for free download.


We couldn’t make a list of things to do right now without featuring our client Endeavour – they deliver food, mindset and practical action-based advice from 3 top London coaches, with the aim of changing the outdated versions of masculinity we have been bombarded by. They’re currently offering a free 28 day trial, and have amended the workout programmes to be performed entirely from home. If you’re feeling a bit rudderless in the current lockdown, this could be the plan for you.

Taking moments for yourself

One of the positive sides to the situation is just how much our mental health discussions have moved up the agenda. The Moment Company, creators of Moment Pebble, have started gathering tips and advice from some of the leading names in the wellness field, in a bid to keep people calm and buoyant in these tumultuous times. Check out their facebook for some really great suggestions on carving out moments of pause throughout your busy week.

Literally no excuse to be bored


I’m certain everyone has their favourite podcasts already set up and are perhaps not in the market for any more, but I have a few gems here that you might just want to try. Some of them are business learnings so you could even chalk them down to work time…

2 Bobs – Conversations on the art of creative entrepreneurship, with David C. Baker, Entrepreneurial advisor, and Blair Enns, CEO of Win Without Pitching. Down to earth and very insightful.

How’s work? – Compelling and often uncomfortable listening here, on the dynamics of crumbling work relationships with acclaimed therapist Esther Perel

Armchair Expert – Actor & comedian Dax Shepard interviews everyone (good) you’ve ever heard of in this charming podcast. Did you know Emilia Clarke had TWO brain embellisms during the filming of Game of Thrones? Plenty to learn here, and goes deep without ever being earnest.

Enjoy being a voyeur on other people’s business relationships with Esther Perel


User Manual for Creativity

Hiut Denim, purveyor of the perfect jeans, brand story to die for and producer of the best blog we’ve visited, have just made their User Manual for Creativity available on FREE download. It promises to tell you how to do the best work you’ve ever done - you can download it from their homepage right now.

Remote work for design teams

A subject very close to our hearts, this is a manual for getting the best out of the creative remote working situation. The idea of collaborating without the energy of the room can be daunting, but as Cousins we’ve learned that creativity can be channelled from anywhere, and talent is still talent, even when it’s 10, 20 or a thousand miles away.

In your area

Ok everything’s in your area right now, and that’s a pretty cool bi-product from this very difficult situation. We have marvelled at the way the arts are adapting to an online life of social distance, and we will be very interested to see how much life changes as a result of the pandemic. In the meantime here are a few things we will definitely be subscribing to – isn’t it time to check a few things off the to-do list?

A new perspective from your living room (Stone Inlay and Carving: At the Taj Mahal courtesy of Dastkari Haat Samiti)

Google Arts & Culture

This is very cool. You can easily lose an evening wandering around this collection of activities. Google have curated the world and brought it straight to you, using streetview technology. If you’re itching to be out in the world like I’m sure we all are, this might temporarily curb your wanderlust.

National Theatre at Home

Every Thursday the National Theatre are streaming their most acclaimed plays and musicals. If it’s not generally your thing, then maybe this is a chance to give it go, risk-free?

The Do Lectures

Hiut Denim’s co-founder David Hieatt is also responsible for the Do Lectures, a platform for sharing business expertise. Sadly they’ve had to cancel Do 2020 but are just starting online lectures instead, and considering Hieatt's form (he began at Saatchi before starting brand Howies, later sold to Timberland, and now he runs cult brand Hiut), I can guarantee there will be much to learn.

Nicer Tuesdays

It’s Nice That, the hub for all things creative, have picked out their five funniest Nicer Tuesdays talks and put them in one place for your viewing pleasure. Once you’re through those, trawl through their archives for some of the nicest examples of design and creativity you’ll find.

The British Library

One for kids here. The British Library has some great resources for children’s literature, including videos on illustration with tips from Gruffalo illustrator Axel Scheffler, and some wonderful ideas for creative activities you can do together.

HBO For Free

HBO have announced that you can stream for free for the whole of April. That is definitely enough time to watch The Wire (again, obviously), get through 20 episodes of Succession, and race through Veep which I believe makes for uncomfortably accurate viewing no matter what’s happening in the world.

If you take nothing else from this list, please watch Veep

The whole of Instagram

I’m sure it goes without saying but I shall close by reminding you to make absolutely sure you’re following everyone who interests you on Instagram. Want to see a typography talk from designer Anthony Burrill (Work Hard & Be Nice to People), inside his home? Or learn to give yourself a very expensive facial for free? There are amazing things happening live every day and this is the only way to be ahead of the curve, and in time for the start.

Lynsay Biss

Strategic Design Director & Co-Founder of Cousin

In her 10 years designing both agency and client-side, Lynsay has developed an exceptional talent for translating any business need into a meaningful brand. She covers all areas of brand development, from concept to execution and everything in between.

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