Hi, I'm Fiona.

Fiona Smalley

Qualitative Research + Insight Specialist

"Work out what makes people tick...."

The headline on an advert for a graduate research programme that caught my eye and led me to qualitative research. It turns out that grappling with the intricracies of human behaviour makes for a pretty interesting career, and so two decades (+) on... here I am.

Since those fresh faced grad days, I've gone on to be the Owner/Director of two agencies: initially Co-owner/Director at Claro for seven years, before founding Vine in 2013.   

From Summer 2023, I'll working under my own name, continuing to deliver top notch qualitative research and thinking, always with a strong commercial focus.

Have a read below to find out more about my experience and expertise.

My experience.

Like all good qualitative researchers, I've dipped my toe into most sectors. Recently I've had a particular focus on charity and healthcare, but retail, fmcg, media, finance and education getting regular look-ins too.
Advertising, comms and brand development are a real areas of expertise.  I excel at unpicking how people react to and process concepts, designs and ideas. 

Increasingly, UX research is an area of focus.

I'll only take work where I have genuine experience to do great work that delivers added value. If your project doesn't fit, I'll let you know.

Whilst working as Vine (2013-2023) my client list included: Alzheimer's Research UK, Prostate Cancer UK, Marie Curie, Comic Relief, JackLinks (Pepperami), Morrisons, Dr Oetker, BBF, Yo! Sushi, Tigerprint/Hallmark, NCS and Macmillan Cancer Support.

I enjoy providing Director-level qual support to top-notch agencies such as MTM, BAMM, Qual Street and Enjoy Digital.

My skillset.

I'm a skilled moderator and astute listener: fresh conversations led to fresh perspectives. It's about getting to that 'aha' moment where you suddenly see something through new eyes.

I have a strong commercial focus: what does what we're hearing and seeing mean for the real world; how can we use the insight to facilitate the required behaviour change...

I know how to choose from and get the most out of the full breadth of qual approaches: remote groups and interviews, diaries, ethno, online communities, in person workshops.

I deliver engaging reporting, that packs a punch - on the page and 'in person.'

I'm flexible, adaptable and efficient: happy to accomodate short time scales and last minute changes.

I set time aside for reading, thinking, listening and general professional development (podcast and book recommendations always welcomed!)

I'm told I have a fun, flexible, can-do working style.

About me.

After spending the first chunk of my adult life loving the pace and vibrancy of city life, I discovered the mountains and my passion for spending time outdoors, doing activites that make my heart sing, grew and grew. 

So after several years of trying to combine the two, I seized on the Covid-catalyst towards remote working to embark on a move towards a life in France.

I'm based near Chamonix - a 60 minute drive from Geneva Airport, where 20+ flights a day make 'commuting'* to London as possible as it was when I lived and worked in Leeds.

I regularly return to the UK for face to face fieldwork and meetings, and, of course, to stay in touch with friends and family.

When possible I work 4 days a week and in my free time, you'll most likely find me adventuring in the mountains...trail running, climbing, biking in the summer, and snowboarding/ splitboarding in the winter. 

*Flights will be carbon offset and train travel adopted when possible.