There’s been an interesting furore created this week by handbag designer Anya Hindmarch, one of David Cameron’s newly appointed trade ambassadors, who said in an article:
‘I quite like a recession, weirdly. Generally, for business, the recession has obviously been hard. But I think often a recession is a very good clean-up time. It makes you get quite fit in business.’
She said a downturn forced firms to focus on the fundamentals. ‘It puts everything back into place: cost-cutting, careful management, and good communication, and really looking after your customers.’
Ms Hindmarch was then accused by Labour of making ‘offensive and hurtful’ remarks in saying that she ‘likes’ economic slumps and former Labour minister Ian Austin remarked: ‘We all know David Cameron and his mates live in a different world to the rest of us, but even he must realise how offensive these remarks will be to people who lost their businesses, jobs or homes during the downturn. He must apologise for his donor’s hurtful and thoughtless remarks.’
What a complete numpty, and that’s the latter not the former. Quite apart from the infantile ‘I hate all rich, privileged people and their friends too’ tone to his little speech, what on earth has she to apologise for? Who on earth has she offended? I run my own business, have been self employed for fifteen years and consider her remarks to be bang on target. And she should know, shouldn’t she, a woman who started her own business at 18, worked through the last recession, has been named Designer of the Year and was awarded an MBE in 2009 in recognition of her contribution to the British Fashion industry, unlike Mr Austin, a career councillor and politician who as such has lived off the state in much the same way as any one of the career unemployed 😉
In good times, businesses, whether creative or otherwise, get lazy. Things are easy, we get complacent, spend too much, take our eye off the ball, take our customers for granted, the list of business mistakes is endless. And we get away with it precisely because when times are good, we don’t have to try *too* hard. I cringe at the amount of money I wasted on fripperies, thousands of pounds on unnecessaries: overpaying for labour and materials instead of searching for the best deal, buying designer products when high street would have sufficed, paying too much for fees, lunches and transport…. sound familiar?
Ms Hindmarch quite clearly meant that a downturn stops us in our tracks and therefore makes us get our businesses back on track, you silly jumping up and down man. Times of recession are ‘good clean up times’, and we who run our own large or small businesses have all had to do it.
More than that, for creatives, times of recession can also be very positive. I recall a lengthy conversation I had with Piers Roberts from Designersblock about this very thing a couple of years ago at 100% Design. We discussed how in tough times, the creative juices can actually start to flow in ways they simply don’t in the ‘fat’ years. Not only do artists, designers and creatives have to think more carefully about materials, ideas and directions, but they also become less constrained when the demands of an over-active market place subside, and are more free to experiment and explore new avenues of creativity and passion.
Recessions, quite simply, force your brain to work harder and that’s what Anya Hindmarch meant. But you wouldn’t get that would you, Ian, as we all know politicians’ mouths tend to work a lot harder than their brains, hehehe.
Plus Anya puts her money where her mouth is, I’m loving her collaboration with Parisian artist Regis-R, who crafts sculptures from recycled materials, alongside her gorgeous handbags made ‘to last a lifetime and shun waste’. What have you created lately Mr Austin, apart from a load of HOT AIR!!!!