I work really erratic hours; I think it’s a strange human convention that someone decided we must work from nine to five, Monday to Friday. It’s very odd to organize ourselves that way. I think any human tradition should be challenged on a daily basis. Challenging the way things are done provides creativity and business opportunities.
I generally work from home in south west London and sometimes work til 6am, speaking to partners in China and dealing with factories there. I don’t have a company or employees, which works very well for me because it means I can be flexible.
Working this way can be both empowering and stressful – the life of an entrepreneur suits different personality types. My ‘type’ is so contrary - a real nightmare - so this is the only way I could really work.
This week has been a really exciting one – my first Kickstarter campaign for Belt Mistletoe finished – I’ve been fascinated by Kickstarter, it’s really disrupted the model of how people make an idea come to life. You can get funding without making creative compromises. I was successful and got funding – it was a great way to test the demand before investing.
I did just get my latest product, the cancer stick cigarette cover, banned from it, though. I feel like my job is to challenge societal taboos – I didn’t want to produce cigarettes as they cause harm, but I thought I would create a clever parody of the whole cigarette 'plain packaging' situation.
Shed Simove's Belt MIstletoe
It was banned by Kickstarter for being unsuitable – which is absolutely fine! I come across negative barriers all of the time. Those hurdles are like kicks in the stomach, but I will find another way. In fact, I’m going to launch a campaign for the product on Indiegogo [another crowd funding platform] after this interview - they don't check campaigns before they're published.
In the same breath, I heard from the Trademark Office about my application for the Cancer Sticks trademark, which has been turned down. They said this was because the name was descriptive. Fair enough - you can’t TM the word orange if you are a greengrocer, but I said this is slang, not a description. I do get a lot of TMs rejected – but my finest hour was when I had ‘The Trademark Office has no sense of humor’ trademarked. It’s the little things...
I also got a sample from China this week of my new product; it’s the most exciting thing to get prototypes in the post. I got the sample through for a balloon idea I am creating - it’s under wraps for now, but will hit the stores this Christmas.
My working week is so varied. Earlier I got a really exciting booking for a corporate speech to 140 business people in south east England. My speeches are around how to be creative and how to come up with ideas: I'm so fortunate big companies such as BT and the BBC pay me to talk to their teams about how to think differently – I adore doing it, it’s such an honor.
I get really nervous before doing them but it’s the same as everything in my business life – I’ve learned to live in a constant state of anxiety. If I’m not anxious about something, it's usually because I’m not trying hard enough…