What advice would you give to a mother starting up a business?
You need a certain level of fearlessness, a perfectionistic instinct, a passion for wanting to improve the status quo, and you cannot be lazy.
Do it for love, not for money. Any career that you start in order to have financial gain won’t be pushed along by the right motivators, and you’ll eventually be miserable. Life is short, do what you love, and success will follow! (And if it doesn’t, at least you’ll be happy every day.)
One of the key ways you can create new opportunities is by being interested in the world around you. Even the smallest piece of knowledge might help you and your business if it’s relevant. So it’s really important to keep your eyes open, to scan magazines and newspapers, to look in shop windows, and listen to what other people are talking about. You need to know what’s going on and have a feel for all of the different factors that are influencing the world. Today’s zeitgeist, for instance, is architecture, artificial celebrity, etc. You should try to know a little bit about a lot of things.
Meet and listen to as many people as you have the time to. You need to feed your mind. New ideas are developed by input into the brain. So network, listen, learn and ask questions as much as you can.
Remember to enjoy your life. You only go around once. You don’t want to spend it wondering ‘what if?’ When you are looking for new opportunities, you have to remember you can’t always have your cake and eat it too. Every choice in your life is also a sacrifice. You take one path, it means you didn’t take another.
If you decide to start your own business, do it because you love what you do, and you want to do it your way. If you get into a business just to make money, it’s a recipe for stress.
When and if you can, help people. Connect people. Introduce people. Lend people your advice. (Short of sacrificing key family time, or getting sleep deprived, or defaulting on your own personal or work deliverables.) An hour spent helping somebody is so much more valuable than an hour in front of the television. You bond. You learn something. You see the world in a different way.
Have a favour up your sleeve for when you need. I also always try to return favours immediately, as a habit (so I don’t feel horrible asking for another)!
When you signed on the dotted line and sold Bliss, what was the first thought that entered your mind?
I sold my stake in Bliss back in 2004, so it’s been quite a while since I’ve been ‘on the ground’ there, almost five years. When I had my son, Louis, I realized that I only had one chance to be his mum, and I wanted to have a career that allowed me to focus on doing that while I still challenged my creativeside. I had also never done anything that was designer quality but mass market. Soap & Glory gives me a chance to stretch my mind, but allow me to be a decent mom. (And now I’ve got a second little boy, Raphael, so the juggling stakes are even steeper!)
In past articles I’ve read that you think ‘having an idea is never enough’ – how do you take an initial idea /concept and roll it to the next step?
Before you get too deep into a product idea, leave your office/house/ipad, go out to a mall on a Saturday where that product might be sold, watch people shopping and think ‘does this product offer these people anything that isn’t already out here? Does is answer the ‘SO WHAT’ question?’ (Which is a test I use with every product. Describe the product to somebody. Have them ask you ‘so what’? If you can’t effectively (or convincingly) answer the ‘SO WHAT’ in one sentence, it’s likely your idea isn’t well honed enough to get any momentum.
What children’s product can’t you live without?
On a long car trip, I will admit to being really grateful for the iPad, because the kids do MINDSNACKS apps to review their French and Chinese, and SQUEEBLES to practice time tables. I don’t feel guilty, and they stay quiet! And I pretend not to notice when they shift into spymouse and skiracer game apps, so everybody’s happy.
From Bliss, to Soap & Glory and onto Fitflops you’re our hero. Is there anything that you’re rubbish at?!
My weakness – I can jump to conclusions. I’m not particularly patient when it comes to people who make careless errors.
How do you keep your children grounded?
I treat them as normal children should be treated. With discipline and love, and- because they are boys- exercise!
How do you switch off?
I laugh at my two hyperactive little boys, who have energy to burn, and come up with the craziest sayings. (One currently insists on doing his version of latin dancing on the sofa every night before going to bed, and the other is obsessed with birthday parties, and wanders off in the middle of a storybook to find something else that he imagines can relate to a birthday party. He doesn’t make any sense, but his little world where everything relates to a party is one that I at the very least am delighted to be an observer of.
My husband, two boys, nanny, cat and an assortment of friends decamp to our farm in the South of France every summer, as soon as school lets out. I work most of the time, at least 6 hours a day and often before anybody else gets out of bed, and try to take 2 weeks off somewhere in the middle of it all. It’s a very easy place to relax, because the weather is always perfect, the food is great, the crickets are out (which is the most hypnotic white noise you can image) and you end up assimilating with the locals, whose pace is not at all urban. Just trying to blend forces you to relax more than you might normally!
What’s your beauty regime?
I generally do Bikram yoga or cycle in the morning to get my circulation going, and then it’s a quickshower (see the 2-Minute RinseTM project) using Clean On Me, or Clean Girls, or one of any number of new body scrubs/washes I’m testing.
Once out, I pick a jar or tube of body butter and slather on head to toe, and wrap my hair in a microfiber towel so it’s almost dry by the time I’ve done my makeup. (Less heat, less damage to the hair cuticle). I follow with a few pumps of Make Yourself Youthful with our Feel Good Factor SPF 25 Day Moisturiser, use a little concealer between my eyebrows, on the sides of my nose, on the chin, rub on a little blusher (tops of cheeks), eyeliner (not too much) mascara (along the top) , and a dusting of translucent powder on top. I no longer want that ‘perfect skin’ look that a lot of foundation lays down. It’s impossible to upkeep, and it makes my face look too flat. And it’s not realistic, is it? I think as a sign of the times, we’ve all come to appreciate seeing little more character. What’s real. It’s the imperfect, funny parts that make somebody interesting and loveable.
What do your children want to be when they grow up?
Well, we were going with a fireman for a while, but now one has decided he wants to work in a computer games store. I have a sneaking feeling, however, that I might have the next Mick Jagger on my hands (I’m not telling him though).
How would you sum yourself up in one sentence?
It makes me happy to do things… better. Making better things makes me happy. Making happy things makes me feel better. Take your pick.