This December we headed out into East London with High Spirit Founders, Josh & John Okungbaiye, to give you a head start on 2018 and get their top tips on being a self-made creative.
So, whilst most people are twirling tinsel and chomping on the office tub of festive chocolate, our Network members are looking forward to the New Year. Resolutions, fresh challenges, new experiences… these all await beyond the mistletoe…
It just encapsulates a positive experience, the idea of a good mood. We’re a travel accessories company, so the thing about High Spirit is all about that feeling when you’re going somewhere and you’re in the airport, even though there’s a delay, it doesn’t dampen your mood. Because you’re still going somewhere exciting. That’s pretty much where High Spirit came from.
Ok. Well now that’s cleared up. Let’s get started, you have 5 tips, make them count!
John: Self-made does not exist. You need to work, you need to collaborate with people. The entrepreneurial journey is not about the work of that one person. There seems to be a fantasy of ‘the hero’s journey’ but that’s not what it’s about. The truth is you’re only as good as your team and behind that hero is a lot of really amazing people.
Josh: Yeah. You don’t ever work in a vacuum. It’s really important for us to help younger businesses and contribute to the ecosystem. We’ve learnt so much from working with other new businesses that do different things to us.
John: It’s just about everyone sharing knowledge to help the whole creative eco-system grow.
Josh: There’s a huge creative community in London because there’s so many creative entrepreneurs here and it’s so diverse. There’s a diversity of skills and of viewpoint. We have a lot of friends that run art exhibitions and these are the places we go to meet like-minded people who want to network.
John: I mean, music played a big part of growing up in Hackney.
Josh: Yeah, everyone was a rapper, everyone had a pirate radio station. (laughs).
John: Yeah, grime was a big thing for us. There was a great energy. We went a lot of music events but you’d meet people who were into fashion, photography, videography and business. It taught us a lot about networking, about being creative and being resourceful!
Josh: Of course our biggest challenge is coming up with new designs, new approaches to reach our target audience, to grow our customer base. It’s definitely not easy, but that’s when creativity comes into it, as well as consistency. There’s never a day where you don’t hear from us.
John: Yeah I’d say part of our success is being consistent everyday. We always post content, keep in touch with people, let people know what it’s about. Even if it feels like you’re posting something basic, it’s about documenting your journey and letting your audience know you’re here to stay.
Josh: Everything we do we do it while being ourselves. That’s the best person you can be and chances are noone can be that. And I think that people can see when you’re being fake.
In our case, it’s very easy because we are just so likeable, you know (laughs).
Josh: I think we need to rethink how we define success. Popular culture always focuses on the biggest names of the moment, never someone who’s managed to survive and make a living for 25 years. They won’t be in Fast Company, but they’re 100% successful in their own right.
John: Yeah, we don’t talk enough about the guy or the girl who actually made something last. We were in a Uber the other day and this guy was talking about one of his friends that owns a kebab shop and he said he makes over 15K a week. OK that’s not sexy, but that’s success.
Josh: Yeah, don’t focus too much on other people, believe in and perfect your own craft. Otherwise it’s too easy to get distracted and devalue your own thing.
A few final things…
How did you find out about The Sense Network?
Josh: Years ago I applied for a job here! I didn’t get it (laughs)… but I did get to know much more about the Network itself and decided to sign up. Since then I’ve been able to do so much stuff – like focus group and research sessions for crazy brands. I got to meet so many people from the Network, being able to work with you guys is like coming full circle!
And lastly, of course, which is your favourite bag?!
The Black Dragon. That was the longest design we worked on and we’re pretty proud of it.
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