Be The Boss
We chatted to Hortense Rothery about starting a successful fashion business in just 1 year, and gaining power through self love.
Hortense Rothery is the owner and designer of up and coming fashion and accessories brand, Droplet.
She’s driven, unapologetic, and ruthlessly honest.
After leaving school at 17, Hortense studied fashion in Dunedin and graduated with an A+ for her final collection.
With several years of industry experience, $300 to her name, and an enviable ability to recognise her own potential, she launched Droplet. Inspired by values of fair and sustainable business practices and self love, Hortense currently produces unique garments and accessories using recycled leather.
You talk a lot on your site about how important it is to look after yourself. When we get buried in assignments, it's so easy to push ourselves too hard and forget about self-care. How do you look after yourself while running a successful business?
Well that’s bullsh*t. Working that hard is so detrimental.
I did that at fashion school…and I created incredible work. I graduated with an A+ and I went to China and showed at Fashion Week in Shanghai. The next year I was so depressed…so exhausted.
I bought a sewing machine and I didn’t wanna touch it. And I didn’t touch it for two and a half years, because of the damage I had done.
It is changing where it’s no longer cool to do an all-nighter, it’s not cool to destroy yourself for your work. It was only from caring for my mental illness as a priority that I was able to start a business. Have your break no matter what is in front of you, nothing is nearly as important as a break.
If I wake up and I wanna read an article, have a coffee, go for a walk, and have a nice breakfast, that’s a part of my working day. Because I’m treating myself well in order to then sit down and do whatever it is I have to do.
I’m curating customers in a community of people that are understanding of mental health. That’s just the way of the future.
How has feminism informed your work?
What I’m learning is, it’s harder to be a young woman in the world than it is to be a business person. I will experience sexism, and I have done, but I’m having a hell of a lot more trouble with sexism in my real life than in the business world.
It’s just trying to talk about my business in front of people and not be listened to, because that’s not what people are interested in. They don’t wanna hear you monopolise a conversation about business at a party. Well F you, I had to hear about your engineering bullsh*t. Coz it’s a hell of a lot more than just tassels that I’m doing. I’m a designer, but I would call myself a business person first.
I got to this point where I was like, “I’m taking myself seriously and everyone else needs to as well”. And they do, because I don’t give them a chance not to. Because I walk into a room with power, and I am confident about all my decisions.
That’s the other thing about self love-I’m just being realistic. I’m just saying I graduated with an A+, because I did. It’s not being cocky. It’s being confident and realistic, because it’s the truth. And that’s something that men do all the time.
It’s the same way we are told to go into job interviews, you walk in there and you say “I am the perfect person for this job, and here’s why”. So I do that with all my interactions and I just know through experience that people are either gonna love it and get on board, or they’re gonna F off.
Can you tell me about your experience with other women working in the industry? Who has been your biggest source of inspiration?
Yeah, I like this one. I think about what Hilary Clinton said, when somebody asked her if she thought she would win if she was running against her husband, Bill. And she said, “if somebody asked him, if he was running against me, would he win, he would say yes immediately.”
So, first of all, my biggest inspiration is me.
The woman I look up to is myself and my journey, because it’s good, and it makes me happy. So that’s my first answer.
I think the courage of watching your friends go through life and work it out at the same time as you, and being completely honest about it-they’re probably the biggest role models.
Watching your best friends break up in their relationships and carry on and push through, lose jobs, fall apart or whatever, and not just carry on, but teach you something about it. They’re probably the best role models I could have.
Friends, I think they give you that opportunity to be your truest, most ridiculous, wild self and try it out, and still just be completely accepted. And-they choose you. So, making sure that you’re constantly surrounded by people like that is how I did it.
By Alice Black.