Can you give me a little bit of background of you and David as co-founders?
Sure, we are the co-founders of Do Lectures, Hiut Denim and howies. When we started howies, we were both advertising copywriters working and living in London, so we had a strong marketing background. It was a bit of a hobby. We’d go out to mountain biking events and print on t-shirts and sell them and it kind of grew from there. We both loved our jobs but always wanted to move back to Wales (we were both from South Wales originally) and we thought that if we could set up a business then maybe we could go and live somewhere else and do something interesting.
We looked at places around Cardiff, but actually we decided that If we wanted to move out of London we needed to go somewhere more rural. So, we used howies as our ticket out of London and moved to Cardigan. We then started focusing more on howies as a business rather than a hobby and had an idea to do Earth Tax, which was where a percentage of our profits or turnover were helping the environment or social causes. One thing we did out of that was set up a customer event, which was the first do lectures really, it was called Little Big Voice. We invited our London contacts and customers to attend and it was about giving people skills; whether that was how to build a website, take photographs or write copy. It then became the Do Lectures because friend of ours, who was a creative director in advertising, used to wind us up and say ‘don’t just stand there, do something’. So, we said we would. We just wanted to bring people from all over the world together who were doing interesting things and inspire others to do interesting things too. We just had 10 years of it! It was a side project really because the main business was always howies and then later came Huit Denim.
There’s a certain view in Wales that young people have to get out of Wales to succeed. Do you think young people should be encouraged more to embrace where they are?
Definitely. I think the world has completely changed over the last 20 years and you can create amazing things from wherever you are. The internet has kind of made a level playing field for everyone to participate, whether that’s business or creativity. So, it doesn’t really matter where you are. Towns like Cardigan are getting a lot more vibrant and there’s a buzz at the moment. A lot more young people are coming back and making businesses so I feel like things are definitely changing. I think lots of small towns all over the place are finding that with young people, you know, coming back and regenerating things. If you want to live in London now as a young creative, forget it, it’s impossible! You’ll forever be paying the rent and not having a life! When we were there we got on the property ladder and we sold our house and were able to buy a house down here, but it’s completely different now. We could never afford to get back on the property ladder back in London now. It’s almost inaccessible, which is why I think a lot more people are coming back and doing their own thing. It’s probably not going to be in the big cities anymore.
How do you find your speakers?
We do a lot of research. We have people all year round searching. We want someone who’s up and coming, we like to discover people. We use a lot of our past speakers and attendees to recommend speakers to us. They come, they get the vibe and understand it and then they know what kind of speaker would work really well. We’ve got a network of ‘do ambassadors’ I guess, who are all around the world and suggest people to us all the time. We have a huge trello board of names that we split into categories so that we can make sure there’s a variety of stories. We start putting names of people we’re interested in into
categories and gradually make our way through the list to confirm people. We just sat down yesterday and went through a huge list for this year and already have a few people booked in. You have to look at talks they’ve done online to see what they’re like, whether they’re upbeat or mellow…we have to make sure if they’re in a group then there has to be a balance of personalities. It’s a curation I guess.
What are you passionate about?
I feel really strongly that you should find work you want to do and live your life. If you can find something you find really rewarding and meaningful and you feel like you’re contributing to society in a positive way, that’s a happy life. Our companies don’t need to be these multi-million pound companies you know, they need to be influential, something that people talk about and make them think. Inspire people, that’s success. Not going out there to spend lots of money, you know? But that’s the motivation, to live a purposeful, meaningful life that contributes in a positive way and to be able to do it in a place like West Wales which is so beautiful. I feel very lucky that we’re here and we can do this.
Who inspires you?
I actually just told someone this morning that they inspire me for National Women’s Day. It’s the woman who runs the dobook company, she’s a one man band and she produces all these books for the do lectures and she’s amazing. She’s so organised and she’s on it all the time. I put together a do book last year for our 10 year anniversary and she was like my manager in a really nice way. So I told her this morning she was my ‘shero’. It’s people like that who are just so focussed and hard-working and don’t go shouting about it. The world can see that they’re great, they don’t need to tell people. It’s the quiet ones!
The Do Lectures social media often posts quotes or motivational messages, of course that’s a part of the brand, do you have a favourite quote or one that you like to live by?
I just say ‘be nice to people’. I always say to our girls ‘treat people the way you’d like to be treated yourself’. Consider others. I always feel like there’s a lot of people pushing themselves out there regardless of others. I think it comes back around in the end. Do good things and good things come back to you. I guess another phrase that we usually have up at the farm is ‘givers get lucky’. If you give with all your heart then you and get lucky in the end and good stuff happens. ‘Givers get lucky’ is definitely up there with my favourites.
As co-founders, yourself and David have created something incredible and I really admire your work. I’ve often said ‘one day I’ll be like the Hieatt’s’ and you guys genuinely give me that push to go a little further.