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Anya Hindmarch reveals her top tips for business in a memoir

How to wash that stress right out of your hair! Designer Anya Hindmarch reveals her top tips for business and happiness in a fascinating memoir

  • Anya Hindmarch, 52, has penned a memoir detailing how to run a business 
  • Fashion accessories designer also shares her top piece of advice for happiness 
  • Admits every new project she has ever launched has involved a cycle of emotion

LIFESTYLE 

IF IN DOUBT, WASH YOUR HAIR  

by Anya Hindmarch (Bloomsbury £18.99, 256 pp)

Anya Hindmarch has always had a genius for keeping her finger on the pulse of the global zeitgeist.

Over the past decade, her top-selling item has shifted smoothly from the ‘I’m Not A Plastic Bag’ (a canvas tote to signal one’s anti-plastic credentials) to her current ‘I Am A Plastic Bag’ (made from 32 recycled plastic water bottles, signalling one’s keep-plastic-out-of-landfill credentials).

When she launched I’m Not A Plastic Bag in 2007, there was a stampede outside her store in Taipei, Taiwan, and 30 people ended up in hospital.

Anya Hindmarch, 52, (pictured) shares her advice for running a successful business and being happy in a memoir

The I Am A Plastic Bag project, which was launched in 2020, was ‘my husband’s idea, even though it pains me to admit it’, Hindmarch, 52, writes in this honest memoir, which also gives us tips on how to run a business and (just as tricky) how to be happy.

Her top piece of advice for happiness came from a nun at her convent school: ‘If you accept that you will never be satisfied, then you will be very happy indeed.’

This was the gutsy, dyslexic but highly visually minded girl who, on holiday in Italy aged 19, spotted a bag she liked and asked an Italian factory to make up samples of it. She then persuaded Harpers & Queen to sell the bags as their monthly offer. They sold 500 and she made a profit of £7,000.

Aged 28, she married James Seymour, whose wife had recently died leaving him with three children under the age of four. Anya took them on with limitless maternal love, and had two more sons with James, who is now the financial director of her business. The couple seem blissfully happy — in spite of his love of socialising and her deep need for free weekends.

The rather unambitious title, If In Doubt, Wash Your Hair, is Hindmarch’s top piece of advice for the busy woman: ‘It sums up how much better I feel about myself — how much more confident, how much glintier-eyed, how much better able to cope and respond — if I have freshly washed hair.’

IF IN DOUBT, WASH YOUR HAIR by Anya Hindmarch (Bloomsbury £18.99, 256 pp)

For such a successful businesswoman, it seems surprising that Hindmarch ever suffers much doubt, but she admits that with every new project she has ever launched, her cycle of emotion has been: ‘I love it — I’m nervous — I’m bored of it — it’s really hard — I hate it — actually I really hate it — I hate myself’, then climbing gradually back to ‘I love it’ again.

She quotes a chilling piece of advice given to her by adman Nick Hurrell of M&C Saatchi: ‘Every time that you leave the office at night, you should mentally fire yourself, and then in the morning come back as your successor’.

Hindmarch could be said to have taken that advice to its extreme: in 2011 she sold a large chunk of the business, then in 2019 she bought it back again.

That was ‘one of the scariest and hardest things I’ve ever done’, she writes. But ‘I like to be in charge. I like the pressure’.

The fun of her working life, at its best, among her team of loyal colleagues, dances off every page.

None of her success seems to have gone to her head and the self-doubt never goes away, hence the constant hair-washing.

In fact, the self-doubt comes across as a vital, piquant ingredient in her drive to succeed.

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