One of the greatest things about owning a business, for me, is the privilege of owning something that you created - a huge creation and piece of my imagination - and being able to gift it to someone who I feel deserves it.
Over the years, I’ve been fortunate enough to deliver a random act of kindness to a few special people in my life - people who perhaps are going through a tough time or just people who I felt like I wanted to help. These moments, without doubt, are up there with the truly wonderful feelings that this business have given me. Right up there with winning awards, Dragons’ Den or making a big number sale!
In 2018, my friend and neighbour, Chris Crook was going through a hard time. He had just been discharged from the army after 20 years of service on medical grounds. Fighting was all he had ever known having spent time in Iran, Bosnia and Afghanistan. He was suffering with PTSD, as well as this huge complication of suddenly being trapped in his own home. No job, a new way of life. Civilisation and what we would perceive as socialising all frightened him.
It moved me. He was a good guy and he had done a lot for me and my family before I even knew him. He had been damaged serving me!
As a random act of kindness, I decided to do something. I designed Chris a pair of shoes, and on the soles I have a poem inscribed which I felt summed up the spirit I felt enraptured him. It didn’t matter the sole and the inscription would wear away as he wore them - because what the message stood for, that wouldn’t.
I now want to take the power of random acts of kindness further. I’ve seen how the power at first hand - Chris and I have become true friends and he has rebuilt his life. I know he treasures those shoes far more than an item of clothing. That is special. A random act empowers people, it lifts their spirits and my word does it lift mine too being able to do it. And so, today, on Random Acts of Kindness Day 2021, I’m launching our Random Acts of Kindness identity - a permanent fixture within the Hand Dyed Shoe Co. brand. I commit to this as a policy, an ethos and an energy. We will as a company strive to make people smile in all manners of what we do and how we act and wherever we can, we will act.
I’ve always been open about Mental Health and in a world where social media appears to be populated by racists, homophobes and bullying, where suicide continues to be the biggest killer of young people in the world and where peer pressure continues to destroy belief and confidence, we will strive to remind people that kindness truly makes the world go around.