Anya Hindmarch is a powerhouse businesswoman, who at the age of 19, started her own handbag business as a wholesale business, selling handbags to department stores and eventually moving into retail. By 2015, the Anya Hindmarch brand had 58 stores in 11 countries, including Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong and the US.
Anya has a host of accomplishments to her name – she’s been awarded Designer of the Year by various institutions numerous times, she received an MBE in 2009 for services to the British fashion industry and a CBE in 2017 for services to fashion. She’s also a UK trade ambassador and is a trustee of both the Royal Academy and the Design Museum. And now, she can add author to the list, having written her first book, If in Doubt, Wash Your Hair. We read it, and we have some thoughts.
If in Doubt, Wash Your Hair Review
Reading the title – If in Doubt, Wash Your Hair – you may think that this is a simple book, one to glance at mindlessly beach-side, but while the tone is light, the content is significant. Anya is very transparent about what it’s like to be an entrepreneur managing a multi-million dollar business, but she also lays bare the price she’s paid for her success, both emotionally and mentally.
She honestly and openly delves into her battles with anxiety and her life spent building a business. It’s not at all glamorous – years spent working at her kitchen table, cash flow problems and the realisation that when she is struggling at work, she struggles to be mentally present at home. She doesn’t spout any magic formula for dealing with it all, but is very honest in saying that being in business is tough and the only way to get around it is to get through it.
While I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Anya’s meteoric rise in the business world and how she handled it while raising five children, I had two favourite parts. Firstly, it was a joy to read about her 2019 Chubby Hearts Over London campaign, where she suspended 29 giant heart-shaped balloons from iconic London landmarks, including Battersea Power Station, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square and Covent Garden, as a “love-letter” to London and a creative way to market her quilted bag collection.
Second, I loved her I’m Not a Plastic Bag campaign from 2007, which was part of a collaborative project with Antidote and global social change movement We Are What We Do. Thousands of people queued to purchase the tote from Sainsburys (80,000 on launch day) and the project then garnered massive press coverage globally; the bag literally shut shopping malls down in Taiwan for safety concerns. While she refreshingly admitted that the project had its problems (they didn’t use fair-trade or sustainable cotton), the project ignited the debate around the use of plastic bags and contributed to the eventual decision to charge for plastic bags in the UK. Following the project, the brand spent two years developing their own cotton-like fabric that is made from recycled PET bottles.
Overall, this book is very inspiring and motivating. If you’re not particularly interested in fashion or accessories, and the thought of being an entrepreneur responsible for hundreds of jobs is terrifying to you, you’ll still find something meaningful in this book. She discusses keeping a marriage together, personal organisation and managing tricky relationships – from toddlers to coworkers.
If you’re struggling with motivation and self-doubt, this book may be of great help to you. A quote I loved reads, “if you are reading this and wondering whether to do it, then my advice would be: do it. Expect failure. Expect difficulty. Take risks. Don’t be scared to start again. And try to remember to enjoy the journey.”
We’ve got two SIGNED copies of Anya’s book to give away – follow us on Instagram @8shadesofficial for more details!
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