Case Study: LEaF Translations

LEaF Translations is a York-based translation company set up in 2017 by Lucy Pembayun to provide high-quality translations that perfectly match the client’s tone of voice. After working as a freelance translator for a number of large translation agencies, Lucy launched LEaF to move the focus away from an emphasis on speed and swift turnarounds in favour of high-quality translations. The company specialises in translations for the tourism sector, marketing translations, certified translations, website translations, as well as multilingual keyword research for international SEO.

Originally set up as a German to English translation company, LEaF Translations added more languages in 2020, including French, Spanish and Japanese. A team of around ten highly experienced, qualified native-speaker freelance translators offer their services through LEaF, with a particular focus on quality of work. All translations are also proofread by a second language expert as standard.

LEaF Style Guide – a quick-reference guide to English grammar that is available as a free download

LEaF Translations joined Visit York at the beginning of 2020 to offer their services to tourism and hospitality businesses in the city. While lots of these businesses have high-quality English marketing materials, many do not have foreign-language versions of their websites. This means that they will not be appearing in search results in countries such as Germany and Spain. LEaF saw an opportunity to help these tourism and hospitality businesses attract more international guests and visitors by improving their visibility in online searches abroad. Unfortunately, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on international travel has meant that these businesses are not currently prioritising investment in marketing to overseas audiences and this area of the business has had to be put on hold as a result.

Instead, Lucy decided to use 2020 to focus on training and to develop her professional skills – she became a qualified member of the Institute of Translation & Interpreting, allowing her to translate legal documents like marriage certificates and documents for visa applications, which adds a new service to the business. For the majority of the year, Lucy concentrated on growing the company and project-managing the new team of freelance translators. The freelancers who work with LEaF are chosen based on recommendations by their fellow professionals, and this helps to ensure that quality continues to be the number one priority. Lucy has also begun working with digital marketing agencies to offer multilingual keyword research and SEO translations for international SEO (search engine optimisation).

One of LEaF Translations’ main aims is to have a positive impact on both their customers and on the planet. Part of the company’s earnings are donated to Ecologi each month, helping plant more trees in the UK and abroad, and contributing to environmental solutions to help fight against climate change in the time of a global climate emergency. Lucy is no stranger to ethical business, having previously managed a fair-trade company together with her husband selling ethically sourced handicrafts from Indonesia. This desire to show that business can be a force for good is now being applied to LEaF Translations: one of LEaF’s key priorities is climate awareness and they strive to encourage more companies to adopt ethical business practices.

Make It York has been supporting LEaF Translations since early 2020, after Lucy first connected with Louise Saw, Business Growth Manager from Make It York, via LinkedIn. Louise has helped Lucy raise awareness of her business and introduced her to valuable contacts that can help Lucy’s company grow.

“Louise has been brilliant”, says Lucy. “We have regular progress calls to see where the business is at and Louise always offers support and valuable advice on funding, skills training sessions and introduces me to potential clients or people in the sector. Through Louise I was able to get to know Grace Redhead from the Student Internship Bureau at the University of York who looks after the University’s Internship Programme. As a result, I am currently in the process of interviewing students for an internship at LEaF.”

Lucy adds: “The Connect over Coffee networking group, also run by Louise Saw from Make It York, is my favourite virtual networking event. It has a really nice atmosphere and features informative talks from the region’s diverse businesses. I have found it really helpful in terms of meeting new people and building business connections. I would definitely recommend it to other local business owners looking to expand their network and chat with like-minded people.”

Looking to the future, Lucy is focused on growing LEaF Translations – first, by continuing to work with digital marketing agencies in the Yorkshire region and beyond to provide international keyword research services and then, when international travel picks up, by helping York’s tourism and hospitality businesses attract more overseas customers through high-quality website translations. The recently awarded Business Resilience Grant will certainly help with this. As Lucy explains: “This money gives us a fantastic opportunity to increase the visibility of the LEaF website and to help us to continue on our path towards sustainable growth. A big thank you to Louise Saw from Make it York for telling us about the grant and helping us with the application process.”

When Lucy launched LEaF Translations back in 2017, her main aims were to create a translation company that puts the focus back on quality, to prove that business can be ethical and to help support younger generations by providing work experience and jobs within the translation industry. Working with the University of York’s Internship Programme, LEaF Translations is now taking this first step to support the next generation, while the company’s commitment to carbon-positive business practices is also showing that business and sustainability can go hand in hand.

To find out more about LEaF Translations, check out their website:

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