• Abi Prowse

The Freelance Diaries: Meet Multilingual Business Translator Marjolein Thickett

In our latest interview series, The Freelance Diaries, I chat to freelancers and remote workers around the world to understand what inspires them, the things they love about their job, and any tips they may have to offer to aspiring freelancers.

This month, the spotlight falls onto talented multilingual business translator Marjolein Thickett. Founder of The Native Crowd, Marjolein decided to launch her translation business after a decade of experience in sales and marketing. Combining her industry knowledge with her linguistic passion has made Marjolein a success in her field, allowing her to tailor her work to her lifestyle. Find out more about Marjolein in our interview below!

Connect with Marjolein on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and at TheNativeCrowd.com

Hi, Marjolein! I really appreciate you taking the time to do this interview. Could you let us know a little bit about yourself?

Hello and thank you for having me! I’m a freelance translator and proofreader and work from Dutch, German and Russian into English. I’m always a bit nervous of announcing three languages, but I like to add the caveat that I got a headstart from my parents as they raised my sister and I bilingually. My business is called The Native Crowd and I offer translation, localisation, proofreading and some subtitling services.

I live in the North of England in the Lake District, but I’ve spent time living and working in Munich, Birmingham and Saint Petersburg, too. I love all things sports and outdoors and spend lots of time walking my German Pointer Raffi, fell running, cycling with the kids and doing up a 21-foot boat which we hope to launch on Windermere this year.

What led you into launching The Native Crowd? Have you always wanted to be a translator?

My journey into freelance translation was less than direct, shall we say? I studied languages and music at school and university, but when asked the dreaded question ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ I always resisted the temptation to say ‘a translator’, because that was the obvious path.

After spending a few years abroad studying music and dabbling in translation and teaching, I returned to the UK and set about a career in international business. I ended up progressing through a variety of roles with the same company over a period of more than 11 years. I then took some time off for maternity leave and while enjoying the family time, my husband (who knew how many times I had almost made the move into translation) prompted me to realise that if ever I wanted to get into translation, the time was now. It’s thanks to him that I had the courage to take the leap and establish The Native Crowd and here I am today, still loving every minute!

You specialise in a range of very niche areas. Do you have an industry you particularly love working in?

My specialisms lie in corporate communications, marketing, manufacturing and sustainability, along with some sports translation as this is a passion of mine. All of these topics came into play during my career in international business in one way or another. I would say though, that it is the topic of sustainability that really motivates me. In my last two roles before I became a freelance translator, I was involved in managing the launch of CupCycling, an initiative that helps recycle the kinds of coffee cups you see in Costa and Starbucks into high-end packaging products.

This really brought home the impact that each individual can have on the global climate crisis. As a result, much of my business is centred around sustainability, both in regards to the customers I collaborate with and the suppliers and partners I choose.

You’ve taken the Ethical Marketing Pledge when it comes to your services. Why is this so important to you?

The ethical marketing pledge was created by the ethical move and is designed to draw attention to ethical marketing practices and to step away from the practice of creating false demand which traps people in a continual cycle of consumption. By taking the pledge, I have committed to putting the person before any sale and helping my customers make the best choice for their needs. I promise to communicate inclusively and truthfully and I take responsibility for doing my bit to help break the cycle of consumerism. It’s a pledge that I hope others will consider too.

Paint me a picture of your ideal work environment. Do you ever use coworking spaces, or do you prefer home comforts when working?

I have to admit that I am totally reliant on my 3-screen set up at home. I am in the privileged position of having a techie husband who has thought of everything and made sure I have all the kit I could ever need in my line of work. Having said that, I am on the committee for the North West Translators’ Network in the UK and I really enjoy joining coworking sessions whenever I can manage. I have to admit that I don’t get that much work done though - we’re often more focussed on the social and networking aspects of coworking (or maybe I’m just a chatterbox after spending so much time working from home!).

Give us one thing you love and one thing you’d change about freelancing.

I love being able to control who I work with and which projects I devote time to. I have more influence than ever on the things that matter to me, such as sustainability and the environment. Knowing I am making a difference makes it all worth it.

There’s not much I would change about freelancing, if I’m honest. Given my background in marketing and business, I don’t actually mind the fact that I am also responsible for all the financial, business and marketing aspects of my business. I’m a bit of a geek in that respect. But maybe the fact that there is no-one who really can tell you if you’re doing a good job or not. In a structured organisation, it is usually quite easy to get feedback and understand if you’re progressing in the right direction. As the owner of my own business, I do sometimes miss that reassuring hand on your shoulder or fist pump when something goes particularly well.

Is there a particular moment in your freelance career that you think has helped you grow as a professional? What was it?

For me, this was taking my first timid steps on the LinkedIn platform. It might sound strange to attribute a significant moment in my career to a social media site, but it has been pivotal in my business’s growth over the last few years. I have met so many friends and colleagues there. They have helped me learn, widened my horizons, referred me to clients and provided the community I so sorely needed when working alone from home.

How do you switch off at the end of the working day?

I’m not sure I would call it switching off exactly, but I have a 2- and a 4-year-old who make sure that my mind is firmly off the job as soon as my working day has finished. As a family, we really enjoy walking in the fells with our dog, cycling, running, paddle boarding and sailing. Being outdoors heals all ills in my opinion.

And, lastly, what’s one piece of advice you’d give to any aspiring freelancers or translators?

Grow your network. Everything is possible with the right support in place. Your colleagues can offer advice on how to grow your business, which courses are right for your CPD, celebrate your successes with you and last but certainly not least, offer you a shoulder to cry on when things get tough and help pull you out the other side.


Read the previous instalment of our interview series | The Freelance Diaries: Meet Copy + Content Writer Christa Boffa

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