I've been meaning to start to huske blog for a while, so I thought maybe I would start with a podcast that resonated with me this week. It falls perfectly within the Venn diagram of mothering and entrepreneurship. It was an interview with the designer, the British fashion icon, Anya Hindmarch, on the basis of the publication of her new book
The title of the book is somewhat self explanatory, but so clever, with a two-prong piece of advice built in.
Self-preservation and Doubt
One is that as an entrepreneur, you're going to have to get very comfortable with doubt. And somehow even though that's a known fact, it has extra value when it comes from a seasoned entrepreneur! Doubt is healthy, it's our critical compass, embrace it!
The other component of the quote is about putting yourself first in order to be able to take care of others. She's a mother of five, including three stepchildren, who began running a business a quite a young age. You hear it so often- put your own oxygen mask on first. It's an old adage, but I think the longer you parent, you more you realise that that's actually the only way forward. How vital it is to somehow get your own system in place before you can try and help others. I always think these things need to be said almost 20 times before they properly go in. So this was a quite reliable source and definitely will stick with me. It's a nice quote.
Textile and Product Innovation
In general, I really loved this interview. She's extremely honest, and clearly so considered in all aspects of her life. She's somehow managed to build an international brand but so intentionally kept creativity and agility at its core. She talks about how the Textile and Fashion Industry often reflect emerging societal and sociological changes, and how it's almost the first imprint of those changes.
I think that's something that rings true with me because I don't know if 10 years ago I would have had the same criteria for textile selection, as I did 12 months ago. The origin and makeup of the fabric was a non-negotiable for me and the access to information and certification from the comfort of my laptop has certainly been a game-changer.She talks about this in the context of her 'I'm not a plastic bag' groundbreaking collaboration with Sainsbury's. I t's incredible to think that when they did it back in 2007, it was so trailblazing. Clearly, it was responding to something in the ether, because 80,000 people queued outside stores on the day it launched. So astute. They used recycled PET bottles for the fabric and windscreen glass, that would otherwise have been destined for landfill, for the waterproof coating. It's fascinating to think that she did that so long ago, observation and pro-activity are clearly her superpowers.
Just Don't Give Up
She also talks about how her father was one of her key advisors in being an entrepreneur himself and that when times were tough, he told her,
the only way you can fail is if you give up!
and I think with any small business that is kind of a key mantra.
Make them hate you, just a little....
She talks a little bit about parenting. It's incredible to think that she was a stepmom of three kids under four at the age of 26. I can't even get my head around that. In her book, she says, paraphrased, that your kids need to hate you just a little bit so that they can be ready to leave home at some point. So I guess that's something to think about in the next disagreement, although mine are admittedly still so small.
Retail As Experience
The other thing that I thought I took her away from the chat was her return to bricks and mortar retail. At the moment, she has a pop up in London. She chose to do it exclusively in London despite the fact that she has multiple stores globally. But she prepared something there which was an experience, ephemeral, therefore not very scalable and not something that you would choose to scale by its nature.
She's created a mini shopping village, with exhibitions, a coffee shop and lots more. I think it's such a clever way to capture the wants and needs of today's consumers.
All in all, she's a wise woman. It's definitely worth a listen. I listen to the Sheer Luxe podcast habitually, for recommendations on fashion and culture, and general chat.
It's light, it's magazine-like, I enjoy it, especially as an ex-pat. Every so often there's an interview with an entrepreneur, mostly woman to woman. I find them very insightful, and useful. It's often mother entrepreneurs and that's naturally a layer of additional interest. Let me know if you listen, or read the book. Looking forward to reading it myself, meanwhile just off to wash my hair....