We’d been working on Spring for a couple of months and were a week into our crowdfunding campaign when I headed to Oslo last year for Innovation Week. It’s always one of my favourite times of the year – a week of inspiration and new ideas and some time away from team HQ and its constant, frantic activity. In a beautiful, walkable and fun-loving city.
It gave me a bit of distance and some context to think about the project and reflect on it, away from the studio. We’d been talking about it for months, and thinking about it for a whole lot longer. Was it the right thing to do? Was it relevant? Was there a wider audience for it? Were the themes we’d agonised over and researched good general themes that resonated for a variety of people?
And then I had lots of interesting conversations throughout the week in Oslo about many of the themes we’ve included – collaboration, fear, wellbeing, reflection and purpose. Some of them were prompted by conversations about the book; some of them came up completely naturally.
Which helped to confirm some of our thoughts, and ideas around running it as a workplace wellbeing workshop, with people who had ideas they wanted to get off the ground; plans they wanted to play out, ambitions and promotions to aim for or the restless feeling of change brewing, without yet knowing its direction.
Like Ethos, our plan was to make it accessible and inclusive. With stories born of other peoples’ experience, mixed in with our own.
I’ve been running businesses now since I was 27. 15 years of my adult life, and longer than I was ever an employee. When I was starting out, people would give you advice on cashflow and writing business plans. But they didn’t ever really talk about what goes wrong – or, really, what goes right. Truth be told, you don’t really have much control over your cashflow when you’re starting out. You just need to try and ride it out, any way you can.
And there was never really a sense of being part of something wider. Sure, there would always be a networking event to go to, where my shy, 20-something self would flutter around the edge, drinking cheap red wine (cheap red is ALWAYS better than cheap white), and – if I was lucky – spend the evening chatting to people I already knew.
But networking was always approached from the angle of selling to people; making contacts, following up leads and earning yourself money. Seeing what you could get from them. Certainly nobody ever talked about collaborating, or side projects or even wellbeing and work-life balance.
It was a fairly binary view – businesses should grow; you’d then employ lots of people, and carry on expanding. Or else you’d failed. There were no nuances; no questioning of why you were doing things; how to grow in other ways; other benefits of business and ideas and ventures.
And that’s what we want to get to with Spring. A way of connecting what matters to you, in your work life, or home life, or hobbies and side-projects. Somewhere where you reflect, think and plan. Something that’s reassuring and – we hope too – inspiring. Everyone has a different version of success and happiness. And we hope Spring reflects yours.