Wander Films’ Chloë Clover speaks to We are Middlesbrough about the business’ rapid rise from the bedrooms of her and co-founder Lou Tonner’s, to new offices on Albert Road.
“I haven’t thought about this for ages,” Chloë laughs as she remembers the first time she pressed a record button to create a video.
It was probably done on a Sony Experia mobile phone when she was in secondary school in Redcar, she thinks.
Today, she sits in a brand new office on Albert Road – surrounded by cutting edge recording equipment, a growing team of talented staff and a yet-to-be built boardroom table – as the director and co-founder of Wander Films, an internationally renowned video production company.
Life moves fast.
It’s going especially fast for Chloë and her co-founder Lou Tonner, who set up Wander four years ago while travelling across Australia. The pair started creating video for companies “really, just to try and get some freebies or get us to the next stop on our adventure”.
Chloë said: “We bought a small digital camera that we could afford and a laptop we could fit in our backpack and just went from there.
“But then people started paying us and it was so cool – it turned into something, and we both thought – ‘If we want to make something of this, we need to do it at home on Teesside’.”
After returning from Australia and the Far East as a fledgling business idea to Chloe’s bedroom, the passion, the talent and the idea were there – but neither Chloe nor Lou had worked in the industry locally, and didn’t have contacts or clients lined up.
“We started with the passion, and everything just sort of continued from there,” she continued.
“We did everything ourselves at the start – shooting, producing, editing and the business side of things.”
The ethos that developed over the next four years was fuelled by Chloë’s early obsession with photography and video, and coupled with Lou’s background in film and “incredible attention to detail”.
As the company continues to grow – it moved from the bedroom to a home in the Launchpad at Teesside University before later moving to an office at Boho 5 – it’s that ethos which continues to inform how it works now.
“I think it worked because we wanted to shake things up – we saw how businesses worked, people who were super creative sort of changed to fit the business world, instead of being themselves,” Chloë continued.
“We just want to create really cool content. It’s about being authentic, rather than something that becomes too polished or distant from what it’s representing.”
Over the past four years Wander Films has worked with local, national and international clients producing video content and podcasts, devising digital marketing strategies and running social media campaigns.
Its work with Riot Games – the makers of League of Legends, which has more than 180 million players worldwide – is a particular highlight for Chloë.
And Chloë herself has been named in the Forbes 30 under 30 list, and was Tees Businesswoman of the Year in 2021.
“But then I think back to the work we did with local brands,” she said.
“And there’s customers like Portwest, which is this huge company that makes workwear, and unless you needed to use its products you probably wouldn’t have ever heard of them.
“There are brands who maybe think ‘what we do is a bit boring’ but they’re really not, and it’s our job to find what makes it exciting.”
Now, with 16 staff and more being recruited, Wander has followed digital creative companies like Big Bite, Sock Monkey and Mabo to new premises on Albert Road in central Middlesbrough.
While still happiest with a camera in her hand – (“on a weekend I’ll stick my headphones on and just get editing, it’s cathartic,” she admits with a smile) – Chloë says growing the business is just as exciting as creating content.
“I see what the team are creating and I sometimes just think ‘wow, that’s so cool – I can’t believe we’ve created something so special where our team are able to do what they love and create the most incredible of things,” she continues.
“And the idea of keeping growing the business – it’s actually just as addictive as the creative!”
We are words: Mike Brown