Zarywacz @ 30

Somehow 30 years have slipped past – says Robert Zarywacz (Zarywacz partner and editor of Business Action magazine) – almost 30 years since I resigned from my corporate job and entered self-employment.

This set me on a journey that brought me to North Devon and to starting Business Action magazine and organising business exhibitions here.

In the beginning

In 1994, my first client work was proofreading in the in-house studio of Safeway Stores at its headquarters in Hayes, Middlesex. What was intended as a stop-gap to pay the mortgage while I established myself as a commercial copywriter turned into a 10-year relationship, which only ended with the takeover of the company and closure of the HQ.

Early on, my brother Simon joined me and we formed our Zarywacz partnership – using our surname as our brand because no one could spell or pronounce it, but they did remember us.

In those days, the internet was just taking off and when we built our first web site in html and with Adobe PageMill – anyone remember that? – we decided to choose the shortest, most memorable web address to represent us, as we knew no one would be able to type our surname – we have owned ever since.

My next-door neighbours in Windsor, who had recently started what was to grow into a successful international travel magazine, saw our web site and asked us to build one for them. We had never intended to build web sites for clients, but thought it a good opportunity and Simon built it. Then they asked us to add the facility for readers to pay for subscriptions online – at a time when people were still uneasy about using their credit cards online and there were no sophisticated shopping cart systems. Simon developed an ordering system that delivered payment details by PGP encrypted email and soon they were receiving email subscriptions from across the world – exciting days!

Writing and journalism

Alongside this, we developed our writing and journalism services and I assumed the role of technology writer for the 25,000-circulation monthly Business Magazine in the Thames Valley – we built a web site for them too.

In 2004, Mrs Z and I moved to Ilfracombe, relieved when an ADSL internet connection was installed on our first day, enabling me to work remotely with Simon and all our clients in London and the South East.

In 2009, I accepted an offer to write two pages of business news for the weekly North Devon Journal, enjoying great freedom to interview any business I wanted and eventually receiving the title of ‘business editor’.

With the scaling back of the newspaper and an abrupt ‘good bye’ email, the idea to start an independent magazine led to the launch of Business Action – originally with Alan Williams – as a separate business in 2019.

And now . . .

. . . here we are in 2024 – 30 years later – Simon and I still working together, still writing, still proofreading.

We are actually seeing increased demand for proofreading and the first three months of this year have been our best for many years. This is interesting in the context of more people using AI software to write text – we are still called in as troubleshooters to rescue clients’ marketing and communications.

The old skills remain valuable – we’re not going anywhere yet.

Telephone: 0333 0444 354