I loved listening to Cath because, first and foremost, she's hilarious, secondly she's very approachable and lastly, because she reminded each and every one of us that she was, and is, just like us and made us realise that there is no secret to success. It's a step by step process and it takes time, energy and passion.
What I learnt from Cath during her talk is that you can be a success focussing primarily on the desire to do something creative with your life instead of the need to make a fortune, and make a fortune in the process! She likened the building of her business to raising a child. She always wanted her child to flourish and didn't particularly care if her child married a rich or poor person.
This attitude to money meant that she resisted borrowing money, grew slowly and reinvested much of what she made. Much like Laura Tenison of JoJo Maman Bebe did (see my previous blog).
Cath also spent a lot of time on her brand and developed a strong idea of what she wanted Cath Kidston to represent; practicality and prettiness. This focus has allowed her to develop a name that is instantly recognisable, understand which products to develop and ensure her market are able to relate to her ongoing.
The last thing she really impressed on me was that it can be scary sharing your business but the only way to achieve success is by doing just that, letting people come in and doing what they're good at. Cath felt that as a businesswoman she needed to be honest with herself and identify the areas she would never be good at, or wouldn't want to do, and farm them out.
Other things I learnt from Cath were:
- Don't make ironing covers out of flammable materials.
- Don't have someone else negotiate orders for you in Czech or you could end up with a pallet of duvet covers.
- Get help with areas you don't excel at, like warehousing, otherwise a customer may get an empty can of Special Brew with their order.
So I'm going to walk away from yesterday's lunch knowing that I am running my business because I am passionate about what I do, that I won't be aggressive financially and it will never be all about making money (or even a little bit) and that I can still be a success anyway. What a lovely lesson to learn x