Last week, Absolute were lucky enough to hear designer Wayne Hemingway speak about his journey, advice, and ethos in life and business.

If you aren’t familar with Wayne, his story is pretty inspirational and kind of epitomises the ‘rags to riches’ tale. Wayne came from a working class background and says “being a designer just didn’t even occur to kids like me, where I was from.” He met his now wife Geraldine, who came from the same humble beginnings, and after moving to London with a pocketful of change, they decided to start selling and making clothes to sell at markets in London. It was an instant hit and they made money they had never dreamed of. They got the bug and the next few years became a flurry of success, resulting in the creation of Red or Dead, which they sold (years later) for a multi-million pound deal. Wayne now runs Hemingway Design which works on a braod range of design projects. Interestingly, Wayne’s whole life has been guided by his passion and enthusiasm, rather than the usual route of university, business plans and strategy that most entrepreneurs and designers take.


You can read more about his amazing journey here, but Absolute wanted to share some of his top tips, quotes and ideas. Whether you agree with them or not, they helped him become immensely successful and are definitely worth a read!


Wayne on being a designer

  • “The best thing you can do as a designer is to make things that need improving. Take pictures of things that you hate.”
  • “Being a designer is about changing hearts and minds.”
  • “Being a designer is about being free thinking and debunking the stupid myths out there.”


Wayne on the design industry

  • “Design is about improving things that matter in life. You’re always looking for things that need improving in life – it’s simply how we work.”
  • “Life is our oyster. We don’t have to be as one dimensional as some creative agencies are.”
  • “Generosity is the new buzz word in our industry.”


Wayne on doing what you love

  • “The most important thing in life is to be happy. If you can do something that makes you happy, you’ve got a real chance of being successful.”
  • “It doesn’t feel like work – It feels like going from one exciting thing to another. For all the team. We all have a laugh.”


Wayne on Work-Life balance

  • “I’d grown to hate the company I owned because it was way too much – probably because we took too much on.”


Wayne on Marketing

  • “Standing for something is free marketing. We don’t advertise and have never advertised.”
  • “Trade shows are expensive but get in there with cheap deals. Be seen. Human contact is the main thing. The internet is great but it does not replace face to face communication.”
  • “You can’t be all things to everyone – don’t sit on the fence.”


Wayne on Business

  • “We’ve always been impulsive. We have never had a business plan. We have never had a strategy.”
  • “We have vision but we don’t do spreadsheets – we’ve got nobody in the business doing spreadsheets!”
  • “We have been lucky enough never to have had to borrow money – but we have enough common sense to know that if the bank balance is going down, you’re doing something wrong!”


Inspiring stuff!


Thanks to our clients Unlocking Potential for the fantastic event, and the image.