david hieatt

Purpose (Part 2)

I now want to talk to you about purpose.

In 2006, howies was growing too fast, and we needed some more investment. We were lucky in as much as we had two companies who wanted to invest.  In the end, we decided to sell to the ‘current owners’ as they understood the importance of Wales. The other deal was much more lucrative to Clare and myself but was more focused on California than Wales.

A year or so after selling to the ‘current owners’ I was in a meeting in Boulder, Colorado. I was told that I had to move ‘this bit’ of the business to this country and ‘this bit’ of the business to this country, or they would ‘spin us off’. I had to ask what ‘spin you off’ meant. (It means to sell you.)

Those kind of meetings are called ‘Dream Breakers’ for good reason. I emotionally left the company at that meeting.

On my return, I tried to buy the company back, but it wasn’t to be.

I will keep my thoughts about the current owners to myself, but I also had to look at myself and ask some tough old questions. And the uncomfortable truth was if I had been smarter at running a business, I would never have had to sell it to anybody. The mirror is a hard place to stand in front of sometimes.

Looking back, I could see that I had learnt how to build a brand, but not how to run a business.

So in October 2009, I left howies. The pain of leaving something I loved was less than the pain of staying and watch it turn into something I didn’t love.

For 3 months, I wrote a business plan for a jeans company. I felt it was a good idea. I knew I could fall in love with it. I had plenty of investors wanting to invest in it. But something was stopping me from doing it.

There was an element I didn’t want to run around the same track again. I was tired. And I was a little bit heart broken, if truth be known. So I just shelved the idea.

Instead, I put all my efforts into The Do Lectures. I had always wanted to do something world class, and there it was and right under my nose all along. It had a magical setting in fforest. (I will speak more about the importance of luck later.)

The Do Lectures was getting millions and millions of views. It was attracting great speakers, more than we could possibly cope with. And its reputation was quickly spreading. It was voted one of the top ten contemporary events in the world. It was a remarkable event for remarkable people and I was very proud to be a part of it.

All the time I would go running with my dog. Not really to get fit, but more just to try and forget about everything. A year later, with many miles run, I re-read the business plan for the jeans company. I loved it, still.

Then one day, after a conversation with the old designer from howies, I worked out what was stopping me starting the new company: I hadn’t worked out its purpose.

You see, as well as love, you need a purpose to really motivate yourself, and therefore succeed. You need to understand the ‘why’ you are doing something.

This video is of a company over in America called Raleigh denim. They are a good example of a company that has a purpose. They wanted to make things where they lived. They wanted to revive an old industry. I wish them the best of luck.

It was the same for me. I wanted to bring jobs to this small town called Cardigan. I wanted to make stuff here. That was the purpose I was missing. Lucky for me, Cardigan was a small town but it had an odd thing going for it.

Luck can only get you so far – JK Rowling

You can’t just rely on luck, but oh boy, sometimes luck falls into your lap. And when it does it makes life an awful lot easier, I can tell you. Having a World Class venue like fforest on our doorstep, well, that suddenly makes The Do Lectures exceptional. 

If you were going to start a jeans factory in Britain, then Cardigan would probably have to be top of your list. That’s because it used to have the biggest jeans factory in Britain. Right here. Slap bang in the centre of Cardigan.

And most of that highly trained, highly skilled workforce were still in the town. That’s just down to luck.

So this Spring I am going to offer some of those people their jobs back. We are going to set up a jeans factory and then start making jeans overlooking Cardigan Bay.

I hope we can bring together those two words of ‘Love’ and ‘Purpose’. I hope I can make this town proud of revitalizing the jeans industry here. And I hope I have learnt all the lessons of the past. I can’t wait to get making again. Wish me luck.

For you, sitting in your seats right now, I have just this last piece of advice. Don’t worry about how many followers you have on Twitter or Facebook, but the thing to really follow is your heart.

Try and find something you love, and do it.

 It will reward you in so many ways.

(The audience are asked what their purpose is, and then one by one they stand up and tell everyone.)

« Love + Purpose (Part 1) | Home | Dear Richard Branson, »


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Great post. Thanks.

It's going to be brilliant, I just know it.

Looking forward to my first pair. Thank you and good luck.

Good luck, Dave. Josh

All the very best with the new venture. You should make it a mutual company, in the legal as well as the spiritual sense. Mutuality suddenly feels like a thoroughly modern business model all over again. You, the Cardigan workforce, you customers (members).

And make sure you cater for non-standard sizes (33 waist, 30 inside leg). Cheers.

Where do we sign up to order from the first batch?

Really looking forward to see this company brought to life.

coloured jeans made in the traditional Welsh way please

Great post as always. Will follow with interest.

And if you could make a pair for blokes with big bums, big thighs and short legs, that'd be grand. Jeans for Peculiarly Shaped Men, or something.

All the best, already sounds like it's going to be something else.

ha ha

I second what Jono said, but from the female perspective. If you manage to make jeans for the pear shaped, you WILL have the profound and eternal gratitude of 80% of the female population, and you will make a fortune. We are soooo tired of trying on jeans that are way too tight in the bum and thigh but have room at the waist for 2 other people. And why oh why, zips that are only 2cm long? Even when the seam they are sewn into is much longer? If you take the waist in so it fits, the lack of zip makes it totally impossible to get the jeans on. Please Mr H, help us typically human-shaped (not peculiar) men and women!

Just bumped into Anna in the shop and she told me about this,sounds brilliant. Good luck and if you need any help with anything give me a shout. Paul

Sounds a wonderful, exciting and lucrative idea. Good luck from The Parkins in Kent. Xx

I'm very pleased that you are setting up this new venture and I wish you well www.grown-inwales.co.uk

Can you recommend any other business books David?

I've read a lot of American books so keen to get stuck into some European/UK-centric content now :)

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