Friday saw myself and fellow Homies Emma and Claire head across to London for the day to take in all that Here 2013 had to offer, a one day creative symposium hosted by It's Nice That at the Royal Geographical Society in London.
There were amazing speakers and I left feeling truly inspired. It would be a mega effort to talk about everyone that was there, so I am going to break it up into bite sizable chunks, as there was so much there and so much to tell!
Wayne Hemingway - Staring Red or Dead, becoming an architect, and if in doubt, ring your Mom
The first speaker that really got me was Wayne Hemingway. A British Designer who has founded his own agency HemingwayDesign. His talk was about how he got to be where we was today, starting off in the 70s and 80s selling vintage clothes on Camden Market, which led to series of events that created the Red or Dead clothes label selling fashion lines to Macys in New York.
A story of entrepreneurial savvy, with his now-wife Gerardine, they began by buying soon-to-be recycled clothes from warehouses and charity shops for 10p an item and then selling them for a greater mark up on a market stall. They used the trick of soldering split Doctor Martens so they were wearable again, bought about 600 pairs in a job lot from the Doctor Martens factory before they got sent to be recycled, and made £5,000 in a week. After making a ridiculous amount of profit from this, the pair then set up a stall in Kensignton Market, where Gerardine would sew and create her own fashions, designing and producing the pieces there on the stall, having about 8 items on display and when one would sell, she would simply make one to replace it. Unaware that London Fashion week was on in London at the time, a buyer from Macy's visited the market, saw her work and ordered 200 of each piece to sell in their New York store. Just like that. Obviously there was no way that the two of them could produce that many items of clothing on her own, but didn't want to turn down the work. So Wayne did what he advises is the one thing that anyone should do in a situation like that. He rang his Mom. (Loved that. And it's so true. No one can give as good as advice that you can get from ringing your parents.) She packed up her job working in a pub back up north, and along with his Nan, some of his wife's family and they came down to London with sewing machines, and his Dad as the distribution driver and they made the order. This was the beginning of the Red or Dead brand, which after some success they sold for another ridiculous amount of money and they then bought a house in London, with cash, in the 80s. Honestly, someone should make a film of this story, I was just sat there with my mouth open as he told it! The way he explained that they had never set out to become fashion designers, and how he truly believes that they changed the fashion industry for the better, with individual and not so conformist fashion was really inspiring.
Two pieces of advice I learnt from this - if you are stuck or undecided or just don't know what to do - ring your Mom. And 'just do it'. I think our generation can lack that attitude sometimes. With so much exposure of ourselves on social media platforms and the internet, we can be afraid to fail as it is there for all to see, or we can get distracted from the entire internet in the first place. Wayne did all that, and had all that success without a website and without the internet to research things and double check this or that. Just do it.
He talked about how he sees design as a thing that should be about improving things that matter, for the better. Things like health and quality of life. Another great story which he has from his eclectic career was how he went from voicing views on how awful a Wimpy Homes block of flats looked to designing and building a housing community of his own. He dispaired that this was the kind of generic, prison like homing that was being built for his children to live in when they come to buy a home. His views on the subject got published in the Swindon times, the story snowballed and made the Newsnight which got broadcast nationwide. The owner of Wimpy Homes approached him and asked him if he would help them design a house. Of course he said yes, even though he had no architectural experience. The houses were sustainable, community based and good to look at. He made it sound so easy! Just like he never set out to be a fashion designer he never set out to be an architect. You can read more about the project here and on the HemingwayDesign website. And a (probably better) history of Wayne and his work can be found here.