At 18, Anya Hindmarch started her eponymous brand, bringing whimsy and cheekiness to global fashion. At 50, she decided to write a book, If In Doubt, Wash Your Hair: A Manual For Life, putting down her experiences as a successful entrepreneur, mother and stepmother in the hopes of resonating with women around the world. The British designer shares her lessons on how to really thrive, with her signature wit
Anya Hindmarch Introductions
“Someone said to me recently that until 50 you are learning, and from then on, it is your time to teach. It’s almost laughable to see myself as any sort of teacher. But here goes,” writes Anya Hindmarch in the introduction to her book If In Doubt, Wash Your Hair: A Manual For Life. Its Hindmarch’s self-deprecating levity that has made her and her designs such a favourite over the years.
Hindmarch’s success has long been rooted in her ability to chart her own course. Whether its in her joy-sparking designs (a crinkled potato-chip clutch or a cereal box version, totes emblazoned with pithy sayings like ‘I Am A Plastic Bag’ and emojis, to name a few) or her most recent project, a five-store Village on London’s Pont Street, which includes an Anya Cafe, an evolving concept space called The Village Hall, the Labelled Store, where her organisational prowess comes into play, and The Plastic Store, to collaborate and show sustainable collections.
Hindmarch to share her top advice
With this book, Hindmarch looks back at her rather full life, and with incredible honesty writes about the self-doubt that has plagued her career, the difficulties in achieving a work-life balance, being taken seriously at work, and managing her anxiety, all illustrated with personal anecdotes. But despite it all, from the launch of her brand, to its subsequent sale, and her buy-back, to health issues in the family, Hindmarch’s approach has not only been to survive, but to thrive.
to health issues in the family
1. “Thriving will mean very different things to different people. What it has meant to me has changed depending on where I am in my life—building the business, caring for little children, worrying about teenagers—but ultimately, I think the most important thing to remember is to be kind. Kindness will always take you a long way. I have had to make some tough decisions at times, both personally and professionally, but I try to never lose kindness and empathy. It is remembering this that has helped me build the business into what it is today.”
2. “Things come of things. I am a great believer in doing things to make things happen. If you drop a pebble in a puddle of water, you will get ripples. If you throw energy at things, you will get energy back. Keep moving, keep talking, keep dreaming. It all puts out energy that will come back to you.”
3. “I was once advised that I should mentally fire myself every night when I leave the office and to come back as my own successor. It might sound tough, but it has helped me always try for more, reach a little further and be a little braver. All with a good dose of kindness, though! The I Am a Plastic Bag project was hard at times to pull off, but one that I am very proud of.”
4. “As a creative person, I used to dread creative blocks. It can be very hard staring at a blank piece of paper and hoping inspiration will strike. But thriving means humming along at the right pace and if you have the type of mind that spits out creative ideas, they will come again. So do things, put out the energy, step away from that piece of paper and inspiration will strike again. You must trust that.”
5. “I often joke that the best piece of advice I can give anyone is: if in doubt, wash your hair, which went on to be the title of my book. On the one hand it is flippant, almost trivial, but on the other hand it speaks to the fact that we are all, and possibly women more than others, plagued by doubt.
Life throws all sorts of challenges at us. I have faced plenty along the way and I am sure there will be more to come, but know that the path is not always a straight line and that that is part of the process. Enjoy those few minutes in the morning—it helps me feel ready to face the challenges of the day ahead.”
6. I have come to understand that fear is often the same emotion as excitement for me. Being scared is quite often a good thing, it means you are charting new territory and breaking ground. I have felt that way for each of my London Fashion Week shows and more recently, for the launch of The Village on Pont Street in London. Fortune favours the brave, so sometimes you need to take a deep breath and go for it.”
7. “I am afraid there is no magic answer for the juggle between our personal and professional lives It is a personal patchwork for each one of us. What I can say is, remember to be kind to yourself. It never goes away. Communication is key and bring what you are best at.
The children all know they are the most important part of my life, but they also know I was rubbish at homework, so we all made peace with that. Now when we look back at that phase of our life together, all the children say it did not matter one bit but I used to worry about it.”
8. “One of my favourite mantras to return to is the famous Oscar Wilde quote, ‘Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.’ For me, this has been a gift of getting older—I am becoming more comfortable in my own skin. I wish I could tell you I had got there earlier, but it is quite wonderful to realise more about yourself and what makes you tick.”
9. “Remember that if you are happy, your children will be happy too—the only piece of advice I have ever received from my mother-in-law and she is quite right. Take time for yourself, whatever and wherever that may be, but don’t forget yourself in the endless list of things to do.”
10. Everything has a place and everything in its place. I love to be organised and am really a nerd at heart. My labelled collection helps me do just that—feel organised—and therefore a little bit in control. It saves me time and helps me focus on the task at hand.”