You’d Like To Be Wesley Hartwell – an interview I did in 2012

by Nate

Survival tactics or creativity driven, this generation of young professionals sails out of the economic downward spiral and finds haven in London’s East End. Branding strategist and global marketing consultant Wesley Hartwell talks about the new waves of creative industries and where they all began, the East End. Report by Nate.
“they come because they hear it’s popular, and not because they are part of it.”

Hartwell in his then office in New York, 2007. Photo by Hartwell

Hartwell in his then office in New York, 2007. Photo by Hartwell

Since when do cafes repair bicycles? the muscley redhead bike specialist plucked a bicycle wheel right above Wesley Hartwell’s head who was having a beautifully made flat white. this is one of the first few, said Hartwell, speaking of “Lock-7″, a bicycle cafe, a recent trend of combining a cafe and bike store in one. looking outside from Lock-7 into the main street of Broadway Market, mustaches are talking more than lips do, trainers are walking with more pride than Louboutin platform heels. there’s definitely something in the air, that smell of rebellion against beauty, modernity and evidently traditional business models, bikes are being sold with coffees and sandwiches.

For newly moved-in young professionals, they are not doing too bad for themselves collectively in East London, which finds itself in contrarary to the big economic picture post Global Financial Crisis in overall london. it may have been the rebelious nature of generation-y professionals’ creativity that enabled the waves of business and styles.

The sucess story that has touched continent of north america, europe and australia-oceania, branding strategist Wesley Hartwell and the people like him function as key figures to make such businesses exciting and doable. Hartwell, founder and brand curator of the global branding consultancy firm SELF-FULFILLING PROFECY offers his opinion on the revolutionary IT deveopment’s challenge on traditional business models, “Online streaming of fashion shows and social media sharing of information of people’s prestiges in taste are tied in closely with technology. the sense of now and immediacy that people need wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for the development in social media.”

Geographically speaking, the against all odds economic boom has literally taken on a movement, from the digital media/technology flocked old street, “silicon roundabout” to further east and north, making hackney, brick lane, dalston haggerston the areas to be. “Post GFC(Global Financial Crisis) is the best time to realize your dream if you dream is to start a sucesfful business, clients wouldn’t want to lash out massive budgets but to use more cost-effective methods such as social media marketing cleverly, which is free” said Hartwell.

The historically immigrants absorbant East end would not have been able to come accross as trendy without the uprising of the creative industries. and that extends from  new waves of marketing technology sector to fashion and style as well as the hospitality industry. within 10-min walk from the “shoreditch triangle(where shoreditch high street, great eastern street and old street intersect)”, you will come across some of london’s uncoventional bars and restaurants and what would have been perceived as “edgy” shops and galleries.

When the hip and trendy sweap over neighbourhoods such as the ones that were never properly appreciated on the eastside, the stylish invasion may not be well received by the locals as the prices of housing going up and cultural clashes becoming more evident. However, the branding strategist sees the bright side of this, “east end of london is where people go to express themselves to create fashion,” commenting on the positive effects that east london is producing for the fashion industry.

“when you talk about the west end of london, regent street and covent garden, it’s always where the flagships are, where the labels show off their seasonal collections to shoppers,Hartwell explains the conventional linear model in fashion where style has been set by the mainstream shops and consumed by shoppers. “east end of london is about people who are more willing to take risks, wearing something they want to wear, putting it together in their own kind of way knowing that other people around them are doing the same.”

The concept of individual style, anti-mainstream would not have been new to many urban populations. in fact, there has been global movement in stealth sprung in many major cities in the world, with the East End being the representative of London, AKA, the hipster movement.

“Hipster is a term that’s a global term with a long history. it comes from hip and hep in the jazz era and the hippies in the 60s. it’s all to do with anti-mainstream culture.” said Hartwell. “The culture has become a youth movement that’s adopted, homogenized and packaged eventually.” And for exactly that reason, the hipster culture has created business opportunities among their peers – the people who would think out side the box to package their businesses in either avant garde(bizarre) or retro respective.

Fin and Flounder, a lovely fish shop that came to mind

Fin & Flounder, the tiniest fish monger on broadway market which carries no more than 5 kilos of mussles or 2 squids daily, has proven to be smart marketing against major super market chains. The shoppers would be getting the Fin & Flounder shopping expereicne as oppose to the best deal on fresh salmon. the selection is very small but beautifully decorated which gaves the feel of exclusivity. the friendly and definitely above average looking staff would not be wearing bloody and smurged aprins and butcher/chef hats, instead, they are wearing vintage jumpers and headbands. what normal customers expect such as variety and low pricing are put to shame by the shops disclaimer of their support on the sustainability of the UK fish stocks. As their website states “we hope to provide all our customers information on our where and how our fist is caught”, each fish has a story in Fin & Flounder.

Some people might call it survival tacticks, others like Hartwell call it contemporary style. “[East London] is where contemporary style is, a big mix of high and low, polished and raw, young and old, established and fresh.” However, the East London sprung, like any other cool things that would be call has-beens now may be short-lived. “When something becomes too popular it moves, like the 90s Soho in New York changed into the East Village then the Lower East Side and now further out, definitely in London it moved from shoreditch to hackney dalston stock newington. part of that is when it becomes popular, people come because they hear it’s popular and not because they are part of it. the prices like rent will all going up, so people would have to move further out.”

Hartwell, 39, a local Bethnal Green resident has felt the pressure of the rising in housing price, “I look on real estate websites in between sending important emails as my way of taking a break from work. I might have to move to dalston if the price keeps going up like this.”

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