Asher Clark, shoe designer and entrepreneur
Asher Clark is a shoe designer by trade and is the design director of VIVOBAREFOOT. We caught up with Asher to find out what it's like to start up your own business.
Describe a normal day to us:
My days are very varied as I live 50/50 between china (our sourcing and manufacturing office and where my wife and kid are based) and London (our HQ). A typical day: I’ll land in London Heathrow at 5am, turn on the phone and look at my emails. I delete everything that’s not important and start to prioritize what I can get done that day in my head, as I go through passport control. I travel a lot, so I get to use the Virgin arrival lounge for a quick shower. Then I head to the London office for, usually, the first time in 2 or 3 weeks. I like being up early, riding the jetlag, or in on the weekend when it’s all quiet. I’m like an old man in the shed at the bottom of the garden, pottering around with no distractions; getting the important things done. It’s not long before people start to arrive and then it gets very varied. From product and design discussions (where I’m happiest and never spend as much time as I would like) to meetings about sales or marketing related bits. The day goes quick, sketching thumbnail shoes, writing notes in my little yellow book. I’m generally just happy to be amongst a cool group of talented people that all share the same vision. The day finishes with a cold beer or home to a bit of exercise before dinner - ready for a run round the Clissold park at dawn the next day. The ultimate goal is to start or finish a run with a surf with my little boy Cooper, but I haven’t managed to build the beach house or office by the ocean. One or both are in the making.
What’s the best thing about your job?
I love designing shoes. I’m involved in all aspects of design and development of cool products and services, on a day to day basis. It feels damn good to be part of a brand of misfits, in a world of brands that are all just fitting in.
Are there any downsides?
I travel too much, don’t have my family with me every day and don’t surf perfect waves in the morning – again, it’s in the making…
What are the main qualifications you need to become an entrepreneur/founder?
It depends, but from my experience, having an unconventional journey through education, and lots of life experience, has been key for me. They don’t teach you to think differently and question the answers at school, which I think is really important. Lastly, attach yourself to mentors along the way, so you can properly learn the skills you need and grind out every result.
What advice would you give to someone who wanted to become an entrepreneur/founder?]
I never set out to become an entrepreneur or a founder so I can only talk from my experience. I’m competitive and had high standards, so that has been a big driver for me. I quickly realized it was sport and design that I had a little talent for and in the end it was a mix of both that became the thing I loved. My advice starts at the beginning ... look, try, work hard, surround yourself with people that are better than you, fail as many times as possible until you find that thing you really love. Once you find that, you’ll never work again. Then it’s just a case of putting in the hours and looking for your unconventional angle, to bring something new to the table. Chances are you’ll fail at that too, so don’t be afraid to have another crack next time!