Alison Hackett is the founder of 21st Century Renaissance and author and curator of The Visual Time Traveller and is based in Fumbally Exchange, Dublin 2.
The Visual Time Traveller: 500 years of History, Art and Science in 100 unique Designs by Alison Hackett published by 21st Century Renaissance.
A beautiful coffee table book provides the reader with a curated journey through history, art and science since the Renaissance in a series of 1000 facts woven into a 100 graphic designs.
An exhibition of framed prints from the book with an accompanying talk is another way that this art-science project is being communicated by Alison.
What is the best thing about working in Fumbally?
The moment I stepped in through the doors on Dame Lane I knew that Fumbally was a good fit for me. Creative and energetic people are involved in such a diverse set of businesses from architecture practices and graphic designers to a posh afternoon tea service and social entrepreneurs; there is a sense that the members of Fumbally won’t compromise their vision for the sake of profit. On a personal level I couldn’t have found a more friendly welcoming group of people – and founding member Patrick McKenna has to get a special mention here as one of my early adopted mentors.
What advice would you give someone who wanted to start up on their own?
Be prepared for, and more importantly, want to take control of your own destiny and follow your own vision. When you are an employee it is safer but you march to another person’s vision. Starting up is high risk and scary but ultimately more fulfilling in the long term, not to mention the powerful boost to your self esteem. In a nut shell “Yes you can!”
What was the hardest part about setting up on your own?
Maintaining faith in my vision for 21st Century Renaissance and The Visual Time Traveller despite so much advice (not always asked for!) suggesting I should do things a different way (marketing, type of book, online versus print question, business model, distribution etc.) For more on this part of my journey check out my blog.
What was the biggest thing you’ve learned so far?
I’m going for three things!
1) Ignore the finances at your peril. “The figures the figures the figures” was drummed into me by one brilliant speaker Damien O’Brien of SME Matters.
2) Don’t underestimate the importance of learning about all aspects of running a business. Just being enthusiastic about (and good at) what you like doing is not sufficient for business success.
3) Selling is subtle as it is a different experience with every customer, hence it requires a nuanced approach.
What is your favourite part of the job?
Writing, blogging, reading, working with designers and other writers; meeting people and discovering shared passions and interests; working on a new creative project; presenting a talk or preparing a new talk; sketching a cartoon, illustrating a political or a philosophical idea. I could go on and on……
What do you do to treat yourself?
Write. Blog. Read The Irish Times (The Observer on Sundays) with a flat white in my local café, Silver Moon on George’s St, Dun Laoghaire. Walk the pier. Share food and chat with family and friends. Watch The Big Bang Theory, Modern Family and pretty much anything that’s on BBC2 or BBC4. Write a letter to the paper!
Interview by Melissa Doran, GoRadiate.ie