Richard is 28 years of age and has been working in his father’s studio, Haley Studios in West Yorkshire, for about 5 years. The studio was founded in the early 90-ties by Geoff Haley. His passion started in the carpet industry and oozed over into all domains of the textile industry. Geoff worked fully analogue. Up to the point Richard joined the company.
“My dad worked with a number of other designers for a while, but the customers mainly wanted to work with him, so he chose to go solo. He worked from home. That is the reason I grew up between designs and sketches. I used to draw a lot myself, but I decided to study fine art and go to university. He never forced anything onto me.”
And despite all of that, you joined the company quite quickly. So when did it all change?
It was during my studies. But it did not hit me until he actually asked me. It was a part of me. I have always known. And since that time we work together and the studio has gradually expanded. We now employ five people. A real family business. My sister Rebecca joined us as well as my fiancée and even my mum now works with us part time.
It is said about your generation, they want to handle things differently. What have you changed since you joined the company?
My dad has design ink running through his veins. He is at his most happy behind a drawing table. I’m different. I want to organise things. I want to make the company more efficient. I have digitised our processes. You could say I guided the company into the 21st century.
Are you also on the lookout for new business models?
I most certainly am. We are very active on Instagram and Pinterest. Many companies look for inspiration through these channels. It’s important for us to have many followers. It’s not only a way to find out who is interested, but we can also figure out which designs will be a success. This is a very effective channel for us. It stimulates sales. So much so, our website takes second place. But trade shows remain a vital component for us. It’s all about sales and networking. That is the place we meet our customers face-to-face.
Where is the generation gap the most obvious?
In technology. It’s strange when we have to explain our parents how to handle technology. For us that is very intuitive. For them it is something they need to learn. Even the speed at which we want to introduce is very different sometimes. We think and do exponentially. That causes a bit of friction every now and again, but basically he appreciates my innovative approach.
Generation Y has a different view of the balance between work and life, or so they say. Not live to work or work to live, but live, is something I heard recently. What are your thoughts about that?
Maybe I am an exception, because I take my work along to everywhere I go. I cannot imagine I can shut it off at 5pm. I am so committed to my job, I don’t actually have the feeling I’m working.
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