I love unconventional, innovative thinking. There is something in the way some people thrive by living in a way that is true to themselves and not sticking to the normal mould.  

On passing the 11+, I attended a girls' grammar school.  The school was full of intelligent girls of whom a high percentage were expected to go on to Oxford or Cambridge, or a 'Russell Group' University.  I wasn't one of the girls who learned well in that small, formal school setting, and so I struggled to thrive.  The only subject I loved, and the only subject that was an uplifting place for me was Art. Art lessons were the place where I dreamed and invented & everything was acceptable, nothing was normal.  Art took place in a place in 'The Red House' - so there is something endearing and comforting now living in a house with a red door!

After secondary school I went through the conventional academic system - GCSEs, A-Levels, and went on to university to become a teacher, which I really enjoyed. Now though, I am returning to the slightly more daring, unconventional way of doing things. Running a business sounds very sensible and conformist... however in my head, I own a little village shop, sitting drinking tea all day with my customers who share their stories with me and choose an item from my shop which resonates with them and makes them feel content with who they are and brave enough to show it. 

Creating things that haven't been created by anyone else, things that impart a way of being and acknowledging yourself and staying true to who you are is the foundation of my business. Business can be full of people advising you on how you should be doing things and how you should be running your business - it can be uncomfortable trying to pursue success the way another person perceives the right way. So again being non-conformist allows me to work on designs and a business plan which is more organic, fun for me AND successful.

I have recently been encouraged by the work of Marc Jacobs, Fashion Designer, and by the Founder of Patagonia. They both have fantastic stories that speak to being non-conformist in business and life.  Their successes prove that being non-conformist can be a really positive thing to create change: change in our ways of thinking, our ways of being, the way we buy or consume things, how we think about ourselves...Continuing to live in a way where we are told to do things in a certain way that isn't true to ourselves can be really damaging.

Marc Jacobs strikes me as a man who knows people - he speaks to his stylists and models, he comes across as incredibly normal (and flamboyant).  But what struck me the most was that he makes very important business decisions lying on the floor!  To be lounging on the floor making decisions that determine the strategy and future of a company or brand was quite enlightening for me to watch. This video documenting an 'average' (pre-show) day is definitely worth a watch.


Similarly, The founder of everlasting outdoor wear, Patagonia,  has ethics and a way of working which I love and resonates with me.  It gave me hope in the way I want to run my business. It doesn't seem very conventional to turn away work, nearly go bankrupt... but the ethics are always there and they're more successful than ever on reflection of their hopes for the outerwear:  Listen to the inspiring podcast here.

Today I want to encourage you that doing things in a set way will not always be right for you or bring out the best in you. However you learn, and whatever way you do things - remember to be kind in everything, and don't be consumed by what other people think should be done. 
You do you.


March 10, 2020 — Kate Whyley