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Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Ahead of the herd

Diane set up the company, which produces a range of giftware and clothing inspired by the iconic face of Herdwick sheep, with her husband Spencer. She has two dogs – Alfie and Millie.

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LAKES INSPIRATION: Herdy director and co-founder Diane Hannah

What school did you go to?

I was born in Rochdale and went to Oulder Hill Community School until I was 18.

What was your favourite subject?

Art.

What qualifications did you leave with?

Eleven O-levels and four A-levels

Did you go onto further/higher education – if so, where and what to study?

I did a one year Art Foundation Course at Rochdale College of Art and I went on to study a degree in three-dimensional design at De Montford University, in Leicester, and graduated with first class honours.

What was the best advice/learning you got at school or college?

If you’re not sure what you want to do when you leave school, keep your options open by studying a good balance of both arts and science subjects.

What was your ambition before you got your first job?

I wouldn’t say I had a particular ambition but I knew I wanted to be successful and I wanted to enjoy what I did for a living.

Did you have a role model you looked up to and why?

I had an enormous amount of respect for my parents. They instilled in me the importance of working hard and doing the best you can possibly do, no matter what the task.

What jobs had your family done in the past?

My mum was a housewife and my dad was a builder.

What was your first job?

My first job, in-between leaving college and going away to University, was waitressing at a local restaurant. It was hard work and long hours but I loved it. I kept that job all the way through University, working through every holiday. It helped me graduate without an overdraft so it was well worth the effort!

What has been your career path between your first job and the one you do today?

My first design job was working for a plastic moulding company in the Midlands. While the salary was small and the job wasn’t glamorous I did learn lots of important skills. My next job came about purely by chance. I met a partner from an Manchester based architectural practice on a train to London. The train broke down, we started chatting and after three hours he offered me a job as his company’s interior designer. I worked there for seven years until I was eventually made redundant in the last recession.

After that I had a brief stint working as a sales representative for a wallcovering company and then went back to interior design, working for AHR Architects in Huddersfield. After five years, in 2000, I set up The Knack Design Consultants with my husband, Spencer and after moving our business to the Lakes in 2003 we went on to launch The Herdy Company in 2007. Se operate both businesses from our office in Kendal.

What’s the best thing about your job?

Variety! No day is ever the same so getting bored isn’t an option. Every person in our team works incredibly hard but it makes it all worth while when we get great feedback from one of our customers.

What one thing would you change about your job if you could?

Both Spence and I have put a lot into building up our businesses. We are a bit work obsessed but we love what we do. There’s not much we’d change other than maybe working slightly fewer hours!

What advice would you give someone starting out today?

No matter what the job is you will always learn something from it. Don’t assume you can start at the top – be enthusiastic and prepared to work your way up.

Be flexible in the jobs you consider as it’s far easier to get another job when you’re in employment already.

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