These are a few interview style questions that we put to George David Hodgson as he battles with work-life balance as a fashion entrepreneur and mental health activist.
Start-up projects and entrepreneurship are a big talking point right now with a move away from faceless corporate jobs towards the dream of ‘making your stamp on your industry’. But what is it really like for a young adult trying to make their way in an ever-condensing market of brands and fashion lines? Read George’s answers to find out.
What is your role now and what are the main responsibilities for you?
As Maison de Choup is a fledgling business, I operate most of the roles. One day I am the director talking to people about possible collaborations, the next I can be the paper boy fulfilling and delivering orders, which actually, I don’t really mind at this stage as I am doing something different every day. Obviously, in time it would be great to employ some help into the business as it is starting to expand and we are getting more and more orders each week.
How long have you been doing this for and what did you do before?
I started Maison de Choup back in 2014, whilst suffering from severe anxiety. But we officially launched in August 2015. Before MDC, I was studying Art & Design at college with the intention of going into photography, however, during the course, I started to experience the symptoms of my anxiety, partially I believe due to being on the wrong course. I eventually finished the course, securing a pass then not continuing at college as I became reclusive due to the illness.
Can you think of any key challenges you had to overcome and how did you battle them to get to where you are?
Absolutely, the biggest challenge was actually my battle with anxiety. At the time of starting Maison de Choup, I was attending regular therapy and psychiatric sessions, I told both my psychiatrist and therapist about the idea and they said it would be good for me, in terms of having a project to focus on and expressing my feelings. So I was creating and building MDC all throughout my therapy and now it has grown into something amazing.
What is the dream, or where would you like to see yourself in five or ten years?
My aim for the future is to have a brand recognised by the masses, but not just as any new clothing brand, a brand that is sympathetic to mental health, that gives back to people suffering, continuing to work with YoungMinds Charity. I would also LOVE to start opening small boutiques. On another note, I want to give talks at schools, colleges and universities about the importance of being open about mental health, telling the story of creating my brand out of a personal severe anxiety experience.
How do you find balancing lifestyle and downtime with your job?
I’m actually a bit of a workaholic, I find sitting around relaxing difficult as I always want to be doing something. I can be watching a film on a Sunday, then have a new idea for MDC and start working on it, immediately. It doesn’t really stop, I’m always trying to find new ways to promote and push the brand forward, but I need to learn to enjoy some downtime otherwise I will burnout. When I do finally relax, I sit and read a good book where I can escape.
If you could give one piece of advice to a young spark looking to start their business, what would that be?
What I’ve learned along the way creating MDC is to keep going. I have encountered so many problems, made so many mistakes but I keep going. It’s essential not to get downhearted by the low points as these are incredibly important for growth, you need to make mistakes to learn from them. Perseverance is key, no matter how many mistakes you make.
What has been your favourite event you have attended this month? If not this month, this year?
Without a doubt, winning the British Fashion Startup Award in November was the highlight of my year.
And finally, what do you think is the best part about being an upcoming, self-employed business owner right now?
The thing I love most about being self-employed is the independence, control, and opportunities that come with the role. I am essentially my own boss, and I don’t have anyone to answer to.
Thank you so much for talking to us and telling us about your experiences! We can’t wait to hear all about your future fashion lines and activism, keep in touch!
Check out the ‘Words Fail Me’ shirts! 25% of all proceeds go to YoungMinds.
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