Your dreams should
My talk at Brooklyn Beta talk. 2014. It wasn’t filmed.
Good afternoon. It is a real honour for me to be here. The vibe at this event says a lot about Chris and Cameron. Well done to them both.
Some context. We live in a very remote part of West Wales, on the very edge of Britain. Closer to Ireland than to London. More sheep than people. It is a remarkable place, but not just for its beauty.
For some odd reason it was home to a jeans factory. Indeed what I am going talk to you about today is a story about a town that had Britain’s biggest denim factory. It made 35,000 pairs of jeans every week for 3–4 decades employing 400 people. That’s a lot of jeans. And also, a lot of skill.
Then in 2001 the factory closed. It had fought the battle of who could be the cheapest. And it had lost. We will never win that battle again. Economics make decisions like that. And communities have to re-invent themselves.
But Clare and I decided 4 decades worth of skill and knowledge shouldn’t go to waste. But this time, we will fight a different battle. We will fight a battle based on quality and ideas.
The Hiut Denim Co was born to get the town making jeans again: That is its purpose.
I want to get my town making jeans again. I want to get nearly 400 good people their jobs back. I feel like a fraud here saying that we are going to get all their jobs back because I don’t know if it is indeed possible. But I have to try. Have you ever told someone what you are going to do, and even as you say it, still be full of doubts as to whether you can. That’s what I am feeling right now.
It is not the job of dreams to be sensible or logical. It is the job of dreams to be nigh on fucking impossible. To scare the holy shit out of you. To push you to the very limit. To find what you are indeed capable of. To push you beyond what common sense says you can do. That’s the job of dreams.
Purpose makes you strong.
For me the most important companies in the world, change something. They know what they are fighting for, and they fight tooth and nail to make that change happen. Apple, back in the day, fought on behalf of simplicity, and complexity was its enemy. And we wanted them to win. We wanted complexity to lose. Patagonia is fighting for the planet, and we are grateful they continue to do so. We want Patagonia to win. Kickstarter fights to get creative projects funded by the creative community, and take that decision away from banks. We want Kickstarter to win.
Your purpose gives you strength to fight the battles that lie ahead. I am standing on a stage in Brooklyn talking to 1,000 people right now. I am the person who would not buy a raffle ticket just in case I won. I didn’t want to go up on stage to receive the prize. The attention was never worth the prize. I tell you that so that you know what power your purpose can give you. For me the prize of getting the town making jeans again is indeed worth the attention.
The reason purpose gives you a steel back-bone is because the goal is bigger than yourself, you are fighting for something far bigger than just your self-interest.
Sentiment alone will not get their jobs back.
I don’t know any great business that has been built on sentiment alone. We have a great story, and we will tell it whenever and wherever we can. But we know the secret of getting the town making jeans again will rest on 3 things: Quality. Ideas. Community.
Excellence is expected.
Malcolm Gladwell talks about having to do 10,000 hours to become a ‘Grandmaster’ in chess. In our town, we have people who have spent 20,000 hours, 30,000 hours, and in some cases, 40,000–50,000 hours devoted to making jeans under their belts. When you have a quick look around the factory floor, we’ve nearly 200 years worth of experience within our small team. It’s nuts. The postman who picks the jeans up for Royal Mail, has cut jeans for nearly 20 years.
Combine that skill and know-how with a mantra of buying denims from the best mills in the world. For example, our Japanese selvedge denim from the iconic Kuroki Mill. We use a natural indigo and it is hand-dipped 10 times until the dye gets to the very core of the cotton, so it will age as beautifully as a jean can.
Can we make a great pair of jeans? I think so. Is our quality up there with the very best? Hand on heart, I think it is. We are in the elite makers of jeans in the world.
Alas, no one goes to bed at night dreaming of
quality. If they did, we would win.
But quality alone will not be enough to get all those people their jobs back. Quality is important to us, and to our customers, and I hope it always will be. But we can’t rely on just being the best.
Quality will always be our friend. But we will need other friends too. Our friends are the ideas we have, the new tools we will have to learn how to use, and the creative community out there who want to help us. We can’t do this alone.
We are an ideas company that makes jeans.
The great news for us is our budget is so piss poor that we can’t outspend anyone. It means we will have to think instead of spend. We will have to bring ideas to an industry that has changed very little in 140 years. Mr Davis and Mr Strauss patented a reinforced riveted 5 pocket western jean in 1874. They nailed a classic. Little as changed since that day. We still have 2 legs.
We want to make jeans for the creative community out there. We are very clear on that. Those are the people who we believe in the most. They use their ideas to go and push this world forward. And we love them for that.
If we are to get the creative community to help us, the best way to do this is by having ideas ourselves. And to tell them what we are fighting for: The right to make.
‘The more we can operate in the future, the less competition we will have.’ Richard Seymour.
I talk about the following:
The History Tag.
The world’s first of pair of jeans that allow you to update the story of where you go and what you get up to in them. So one day when those jeans end up in a second hand shop, their stories will go with them too.
The Denim Breaker Club.
They break raw denim jeans in for us. We auction them off. They take a cut of what we sell them for. They get paid to wear jeans.
The No Wash Club.
The longer you can go without washing your jeans, the more beautiful they will end up looking. And oh, the greenest jean on the planet is the one you don’t wash.
The FaceTime Store.
You can make a FaceTime appointment with our cutter. He will then make a custom fit jean for you.
Free repairs For Life.
When you make something, you should stick by it throughout its life. That’s what we think anyway.
First Talking Window.
Using pioneering new technology called ‘Conductive Ink’ developed by cutting edge company called Knit, we made a window talk very highly of us.
Tech Jean to launch with world’s first low light reflective technology.
Avery Denisson and Loughborough University have developed a patented low light reflective that will keep you visible in that dusk light, that is neither dark or light that drivers find so difficult to see in.
‘I get by with a little help from our friends.’
We can’t do this alone.
We are going to need the help of our creative community who we make jeans for to help us. And they are helping us. They are telling their friends, writing blogs about us, helping us with ideas. They know that we are fighting for the right to make, and that is a fight they want to help is with.
The truth is we can’t outspend anyone. My joke is this: Our coffee budget about the same size as our marketing budget. But the joke is this is for real.
Ideas don’t just go to those who have the most money. You can have a big idea without a big budget. They are born to change things. And they find people who will make that change happen. That is what I love about ideas. The sheer meritocracy of them.
For me some of the best ideas come from insights. They allow you get a seat on the train before it gets too crowded. Take Instagram:
Some of the biggest stores in the world don’t even know they are stores yet.
Some Instagrammers have more foot-fall than the biggest shops. They have huge influence. They are going to change retail. But I am not sure they really understand their power quite yet. They will.
I am going to collaborate them. We will do short runs together. We will pay them a royalty. And they will do very well. I hope, it will help us grow too. We will work with our creative community to get the town back to what it once was.
Music has power.
I am always looking for Multipliers. The things that can help us stand out in this increasingly busy world. Music has such a huge influence throughout the world. British bands are still amongst the most creative in the world.
We will make jeans for some of the most creative bands in the world. In fact, we already are. As these pictures already show.
Find something that matters to you. And back it with your time.
And finally. To finish up. The question I always ask myself is am I giving it my best shot. Am I trying my hardest, am I doing my best? Am I giving it everything. But there is a question before all these. Is the shot you are taking, the one that matters most to you?
Your biggest gift in life, apart from your health, and the health of your family and friends, is time. Your biggest decision you will have to make in your entire life will be how I will spend my time.
Each morning you go to the time bank. The cashier gives you 86,4000 seconds to spend. You have to spend it come what may. So you can or should make each second count. Or you can waste, flitter it away. (Same as money, I guess)
But at the end of the day, there will be none left. Ask yourself, did I spend it well today. Have I got something to show for the time I spent today. Time spent doing what you love is time best spent. Without being too morbid, there will be a time that you go to the time bank, and it won’t have anymore time for you. You’re done. In that nano-second, you will ask yourself, did I spend my biggest gift well.
So my advice, right now, is find something that you can’t live without. Find something that matters to you, and do it. The world needs you to find your thing. And, of course, so do you.
Don’t delay. Don’t defer. Don’t put off.
Use your time well.
do one thing well.