Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Humble Beginnings and Humbler Finances...

Never Again...
Cast your mind back… it was a garish time of baggy clothes and drum machines – yes, it was the early 90s. We didn’t have a lot; we had Conservative rule and the first Massive Attack album. Whilst we did have Coca Cola, I’m not altogether sure my generation could be classed as Generation X; we just didn’t have the energy on these shores.

However, what my luminaries and I did have were hopes; one day we would be adults and our roles were not yet defined. Brutal realities hadn’t permeated my idealistic notions of meritocracy and, happily, my vague comprehension of nepotism and class based injustices remained comfortably vague.

In short, if I -just- worked hard enough, who’s to say that I couldn’t become a rally driver? Who indeed would shatter my unshakeable belief that I could hold a Chemistry role of importance; my discoveries were a force for good and that my name was spoke in reverence (like those other noteworthy chemists, whose names escape me just at the moment)

Now, of course, I’ve yet to learn to drive and if someone were to ask me the chemical makeup of salt then my eyes would cloud with self-doubt and a forced grin would vie for position over a mask of outright terror (NaOh?). However, I had these dreams at one point or another in my mentally capricious youth. Nowadays, in this climate, I can’t imagine what young people imagine their roles to be: perhaps homeless? Maybe the more ambitious ones dream of securing DSS payments from the Government? Either way, the conflagration of negativity the media is bombarding students can’t be a force for good.

Irregardless of social background and economic privilege, I can only assume that no little boy or girl harbours a secret desire to make soap. Frankly, I see this as a positive; there’s charmingly esoteric and there’s just weird. Parents, look to their offspring to be figures of consequence and means – gender specific roles such footballer or model (generalities aside) are expected… doctor, film director, accountant are afforded prestige in this regard, but Soapmaker? My parents asked me “who uses soap?” “How can money be made from soap?”

“What is wrong with you?”

Like many businesses, there was single defining moment. The foundations were laid over a 45 minutes period as Lord Sugar dispatched two teams to create and sell soaps in hit BBC show the Apprentice; I was coming to the end of a fruitless 9 weeks working at o2 telephonica in a call centre and the prospect of being my own boss (or, more accurately, Kate being my boss) seemed so appealing I literally couldn’t imagine doing anything else with my life – one of the teams made a profit and I supposed I could make a profit too. Subsequent to this, I’ve never had a conversation with people who care about specific phone applications of differing Nokia handsets. In this regards, I’ve never been happier.

It might seem a banal observation but it really is so liberating to work for yourself; if you had a job where the manager can, in good conscience, reprimand you for taking 2.3% of your working day on non-scheduled personal breaks as opposed to the company stipulated 2% - it is a scientific impossibility for you to attain a quantum of satisfaction from your work. The financial rewards are not immediate, the learning curve is steep and I’ve had more conversations about soap than any heterosexual male in history but, crucially, I can listen to music I like whilst doing it and, in accordance with Thomas Hobbes’ natural laws, I am free to make the journey to bathroom with the minimum of bureaucratic red-tape.

To those about to entrepreneur, I salute you.


  1. Well, I am a devotee of soap - the simpler the better. Bottled stuff masquerading as shower gel, bath wash etc etc, goes too quickly and is far more expensive in the long run. Get making!

  2. Thanks Elizabeth, I agree. I can't use commercial soaps at work or in toilets now...


  3. Love the posts, so funny yet not overcrowded with unnecessary info. :)