Episode 53: Sewing Bee, jewellery design and empowering creators – with Nicole Akong of House of Akong

Great British Sewing Bee finalist Nicole Akong explains why she moved from marketing to jewellery design, how she’s empowering consumers to become creators, what it was really like to be on TV and how the experience has shaped her business.

Today’s guest

Nicole Akong of House of Akong

Website: House of Akong

Instagram: houseofakong and nicole_akong

Contact: House of Akong Get In Touch

Nicole is a visionary fashion designer, maker and TV personality on the BBC’s Great British Sewing Bee.  She first came to prominence in 2010 through her iconic jewellery collections, which were bought by some of the world’s most renowned retailers, featured regularly in major fashion magazines, and famously worn by one of the world’s biggest fashion icons, Amal Clooney.

Today, Nicole is taking her passion for making beyond the boundaries of jewellery.  Having re-connected with her childhood love of sewing, her creations now combine her flair for embellishment with her love of clothing and accessories.  She made her TV debut in 2020’s highly-anticipated series of the BBC’s Great British Sewing Bee, where her flair for distinctive design and colour won her a coveted place in the final.

Nicole’s mission is to raise human consciousness around fashion by supporting others on their journey from consumers to creators, so that they are empowered to make more and buy less.  To support her mission, Nicole created a new global learning and broadcasting media platform, I CAN MAKE IT, where she hosts a series of online courses, workshops and videos, to pass on all the skills and knowledge gained over her ten prolific years as a designer and maker in the fashion business.

What you’ll learn in this episode

  • The power of visualization and incorporating it into your daily practice
  • How to identify when your audience changes and what they need
  • Why we need to be empowered to do and make more things ourselves
  • The importance of setting out your lifestyle criteria before starting a new business
  • How to become an “overnight success” in two years
  • Why it’s not enough just to know how to do the thing itself, but you also need understand how to run it as a business
  • How satisfying your own needs can lead to your next big thing
  • Why you should create positive feedback loops in yourself and your family
  • How the less you know can be better

Resources mentioned in this episode

Please note that some of these are affiliate links and we may get a small commission in the event that you make a purchase.  This helps us to cover our expenses and is at no additional cost to you.

To see the resources recommended by all our guests, visit the Resources page.

Episode 53: Sewing Bee, jewellery design and empowering creators - with Nicole Akong of House of Akong

Jeremy Cline 0:00
One of the fantastic things about podcasting is it gives you the opportunity to talk to people that you would just never have spoken to before. This episode is a great example of that - I get to speak to someone who I saw on TV, I absolutely loved what they were doing, they're brilliant. If you watched the Great British Sewing Bee over the summer at all, then you will recognise Nicole Akong. This interview was such a privilege for me. I just can't wait to share it with you. I'm Jeremy Cline and this is Change Work Life.

Jeremy Cline 0:46
Hello, and welcome to the Change Work Life podcast where we're all about beating the Sunday evening blues and enjoying Mondays again. I am so excited about this week's guest. One of the things which really got my wife and me through lockdown was was watching this year's Great British Sewing Bee. If you've never come across it, think of it as a bit like bakeoff, but with more fabrics and needles and rather less ganache and laminated pastry. One of the stars of this year's Sewing Bee was Nicole Akong, who made it to the final only to get pipped to the trophy by Claire Bradley. Nicole, welcome to the podcast.

Nicole Akong 1:22
Thank you so much for having me.

Jeremy Cline 1:24
Nicole, is that a fair assessment? I mean, certainly watching as an outsider, watching everyone in the lead up to the final I kind of felt like the final was between you and Claire, and I hope I'm not being unfair to Matt or disrespecting him in any way, particularly when his made to measure was astounding. I mean, visually, just stunning. But when you went into the final, where did you think things stood? What did you think sort of your chances were and what did you think the competition was?

Nicole Akong 1:54
Going into the final I thought my chances were pretty good about winning, purely because from the moment I applied I had consciously visualised myself, not just going all the way to the final, but winning even. I'm a real believer in visualisation. And for that reason alone probably, I felt I was definitely in with a chance of winning. And I say for that reason only because I knew going into the process that I probably wasn't going to be the most brilliant technical sewer. I knew there'd probably be people who were better than me at sewing. But I was very clear that what I was going to bring was all of my creativity and everything that I could do to create a 'wow' garment. And that's what I took with me to the final. I knew that what I wanted to produce certainly for the final made to measure was something so showstopping, that at the very least it would be going out with a bang. Yeah, that's hopefully what I did.

Jeremy Cline 2:58
This visualisation, is this a daily practice, sort of visualisations and affirmations and that sort of thing. Is this something that you've incorporated into your lifestyle?

Nicole Akong 3:09
Very much so. I think it started in childhood really, I think I was always a very visual person, which is why I guess I gravitated more towards art and visual design and that sort of thing as I got older, but when I was young, I was always head in the clouds, always daydreaming, always kind of fantasising. And I think as I grew into adulthood, and as I began to go on my own journey of spiritual development, let's say for lack of a better word or personal development, one of the things that I began to take on as a conscious practice was creative visualisation. And that is one of the things that led me into the career that I have now, the life that I have now. I think it was very instrumental in getting me to the place where I am now in general. And it's something I've built consciously now into my daily practice, whereas I think before it was something I did, but unconsciously.

Jeremy Cline 4:06
Well that segueways extremely nicely into why I asked you on the podcast in the first place, to talk about your career and specifically your career change from marketing to founding the House of Akong. Let's start with present day, perhaps you can briefly describe what the House of Akong is all about, because I certainly get the impression that that has relatively recently evolved perhaps from being somewhere where you designed and made jewellery to something perhaps a little bit different.

Nicole Akong 4:34
So I started my business in 2010. And that was called Akong London, so I registered the company Akong London Limited and as you said, that was a jewellery line. So I started off designing and creating jewellery, taking it out to fashion weeks all over the world and taking orders from retailers and I built my jewellery brand within the fashion industry for 10 years. About two years ago, I would say, so about eight years into my business, I kind of hit a wall where I knew I wanted to transition away from just being a jewellery house because I felt that I had come to the end of what I was meant to do in jewellery. I feel I was led there, through inspiration and everything else. But when it came to the end of my job in that industry, I felt that I needed to move on. But for a period of two years, I didn't really know what to move on to. And interestingly, that is when I rediscovered my childhood love of sewing. I went through this period of I think my creativity still needed an outlet, and whereas I thought to myself I don't really need any more jewellery personally - I don't think the world needs any more jewellery - but what was really missing from my life was clothing, funnily enough. It was clothes that actually got me excited to get dressed in the morning, which was a huge part of my life when I worked in the city. I used to love waking up and deciding what I was gonna wear to work and getting dressed and feeling fashionable and feeling fabulous and I kind of lost that as my lifestyle changed, I was more of a work from home mom. I just lost my whole mojo around what I wanted to wear and the things in my wardrobe just didn't reflect my lifestyle anymore. And that's when I went on this kind of mad mission of creating my wardrobe and started sewing again. Then that is kind of what led me then to apply for the Sewing Bee as my confidence in sewing grew, I kind of thought, Well, yeah, maybe I'll give that a go, you know, seems like something quite fun. That for me was a huge, huge turning point personally and also business wise, because it opened me up to a whole new audience, a whole new market that I had not quite tapped into with the jewellery. I think with the jewellery, I'd gone down the classic route that most designers do, which is I'll start a jewellery house. I will sell to high end shops and I will sell my things for hundreds of pounds because that's what it costs to make. But that market is so limited - the amount of women that can really afford something at that price point. It's like a luxury product. It's not even an essential purchase. They're there, but it's so small compared to the women who love to sew and craft, women who love to make things at home for themselves. And so that's what House of Akong became, it moved from this luxury jewellery house into me now serving this market of home sewers and crafters and people who were huge fans of the sewing bee and had followed my journey on the Sewing Bee and wanted to get a piece of what I brought, which was the jewellery I was wearing, the clothes I was wearing, just my style in general. I mean, I was really overwhelmed with the response to that. So many people reaching out to me during the show and after the show like where'd you get that necklace, where'd you get that top? Now that's what House of Akong is serving them with. It's saying all right, you'd like that top I wore in the Sewing Bee, here are the assets to make it yourself. Here's the pattern, here's the fabric and I will teach you and give you the assets to recreate these things for yourself at home, because for me there's no difference between allowing someone to have the assets and make it themselves or selling it to them ready made, I always prefer though to give you the assets and empower you to make something yourself, rather than sell you something ready made and make it so exclusive that unless you had hundreds of pounds, you couldn't have it. I've had this huge mission around the democratisation of designer fashion, you know, something has been swimming around in my mind for a long time. And I think House of Akong off the back of the Sewing Bee had really allowed me to capitalise all of that and to turn it into a whole new model for operating a designer fashion line.

Jeremy Cline 8:32
So what does that sort of look like in terms of what you are offering to people? Well, let's take a step back from that. I mean, who is your sort of ideal client? Who are you looking to serve and what are you offering them? Presumably, it's not just someone just coming in and saying, Hey, I really liked that sweater you're wearing? Can you teach me how to make it? Or is it that?

Nicole Akong 8:54
It's kind of two-pronged. So one thing I knew going into the Sewing Bee was that I would be in front of a whole new audience of people who had never heard of me before. Prior to that, when I had my jewellery business, I was pretty much relatively well known in the fashion circles. If you were any subscriber to magazines, Vogue, Elle or the mass fashion magazines, you probably would have come across my jewellery at some point or another. But I feel that what happened with House of Akong and the Sewing Bee is that my audience had changed from that kind of consumer let's say, to creators, and so that is the audience that I'm serving now - it's the people who love to create, but they maybe don't necessarily have the vision of a designer to create something original. You know, there's a whole market of people who love to craft, who love to sew, but they prefer sticking to a pattern or they prefer having instructions and being able to follow them and have the satisfaction of this thing coming out perfect and ready made and pre designed let's say. Whereas the thing that I bring is that I am a designer, because of course, there are every number of pattern companies and the market for catering to sewers is huge. But I feel that for me, what I'm doing is bridging the world of designer fashion with the world of DIY, or let's say sewing specifically or jewellery making. I think historically designer fashion has been very elitist, very closed off. You can't replicate the pattern, you can't counterfeit anything, you get sued, right? And my thing is, actually, if someone has a skill to sew at home, why shouldn't they recreate something that comes down like a catwalk? I don't see why that should not be the case. I think if you've got a skill, you should use it. And my thing is about empowering that person to use that skill, rather than expecting them to just have the money to buy it ready made, because I don't feel that that is as empowering as being able to let them use a skill that they love. I would feel so much more satisfaction knowing that they made that thing themselves.

Jeremy Cline 10:57
Did this change of direction come about as a direct result of going on Sewing Bee or is this something that was in the back of your mind already and Sewing Bee provided the the push or the outlet that you could really get this going?

Nicole Akong 11:10
I would say the latter. I had been banding these ideas around in my head for those whole two years I was in this I mean, I describe it as almost like a little wilderness really where I knew I wanted to transition off the jewellery but I didn't know what I wanted to jump to. I did know that I wanted to still stay in fashion, but I wanted to do it differently. Because during that time I could have and in fact, I did make some attempts at starting a fashion line actually bringing out what I'm calling a collection of civvies - kind of really luxe sweatshirts and joggers and that sort of thing. Things that suited my lifestyle, just very casual comfortable clothes but that were jazzy enough to wear out as well. One of the things I was very conscious of was that I didn't want to go down that route that I did with the jewellery again, which is the whole I call it the fashion grinder. It's the you put out your collection, you put it out every season, you get your buyers, you fulfil your orders, you do the deliveries, you do your marketing, you know all the stuff that 99% of all other fashion brands do day in, day out. I was on that treadmill and I knew that it was not where I wanted to go back, I wanted to find a different path for myself that meant I can still design and deliver amazing fashion. Production with fashion I think has been one of the things that has really played on my mind a lot for the past two years, really just thinking about how we can really revolutionise the way fashion is manufactured. Because fashion, as you probably know is the second biggest polluter as an industry behind agriculture. It is quite irresponsible as far as I'm concerned the way fast fashion runs and the mindset we've come into as consumers about always having to have something new and it's got to be cheap and disposable. People have seen from the Sewing Bee how much it takes to make a garment. We are there for hours, cutting out the fabric, pinning it together, stitching it together, pressing it to perfection, all of those things go into every single garment and the fact is that somebody around the world has to do that, all of those steps, there's no shortcut whatsoever. All of those steps have to be done, and it's being done by somebody. And I think we've become very desensitised to really what it takes to create a garment. And one of the things I was very clear about as I was going into my own fashion house was asking myself the question, how would I build a fashion house from the ground up for the world today and tomorrow, not the world as it was 50 years ago and 60 years ago, when all the big stalwarts started. We are in a totally different world now. We have responsibility, we have responsibility to our children and to future generations. We cannot carry on the way we have been. And so I think that is something that's been on my mind a lot, and I feel that the Sewing Bee had catalysed, almost it kind of brought all the pieces together because suddenly I began to realise, actually, I've got this community of people who love to sew and craft and have the skill of being able to make clothes. And I also have people who have wanted to buy garments from me, but I'm now looking for how can I manufacture that and fulfil that demand responsibly. And so what House of Akong is doing is actually creating effectively a circular economy and saying, alright, so you would like to buy one of my sweatshirts, and you don't sew, you'd just like to buy it readymade and you're willing to put the money down because you know what it takes to make that garment. Great. Now I've got this army of people who love to sew at home and who would love to make a living sewing from home and what I've done is to mobilise those who are sewers, and I'm getting them to make the sweatshirts for the people who want to buy. So within the community, within the whole House of Akong community, we can all serve each other's needs, you know that everybody puts their skills forward, and everybody can benefit and get paid for the bit that they want to do. And that is the kind of model that I'm working to because I feel the more that we rely on on outsourcing and relying on other people, I think that's one thing that lockdown has taught us is how much we have lost the ability to do things for ourselves. We've become so reliant on companies for our food, for our clothes, for everything. And when that suddenly shuts down, we're suddenly at a loss. We don't know what to do with ourselves. I think the more we can empower people to make as much stuff as they can for themselves, the better.

Jeremy Cline 15:33
That's absolutely fascinating. Nicole I'd like to go a bit further back in time to when you started in jewellery in the first place. Because before that I'm right in saying you had a career in marketing, is that right?

Nicole Akong 15:46
That's right. Yeah.

Jeremy Cline 15:47
What were doing then, what sort of marketing were you doing and who were you doing it for?

Nicole Akong 15:51
So I worked in financial services for close to 10 years. I came to London when I was 22 after I finished my bachelor's degree in Miami. And I came to London initially for a gap year. And I arrived with two suitcases, one phone number in my black book. That was it. But I knew once I landed in London, I knew this was going to be my home. One of the things that I did was I signed up with a temp agency soon after I got here, because I had computer skills, I was able to type 80 words a minute. And a friend of mine said why don't you sign up with one of these temp agencies? And I did that and I started some secretarial type of work. Just temping. And then I got a job as a team assistant, which was effectively an administrative role with American Express, then I got taken on permanently in that role after about a couple of months. And then once I was in American Express, bearing in mind it's a huge corporation, and there are lots of opportunities to move internally. They often advertise jobs internally, and they have a banding system, so you can sort of go up the next band as you get your experience and so on, and that's what I did. I worked my way up the ladder. In American Express, I went from effectively sort of a personal assistant, team assistant type role through to a marketing executive role. And I did a qualification which was sponsored by the company as well. And that's when I got into marketing. And after that I got headhunted into various financial services companies doing marketing. And the last role I had was for a boutique insurance company that had just started up before the 2008 credit crunch crash. I was Senior Marketing Manager in that company. And that was the last role that I had before I went on maternity leave for my first son and then started my business.

Jeremy Cline 17:30
And so at what point did jewellery come up in that? Was that something that you started looking at whilst you were still working? Or was it something that popped up whilst you were on maternity leave?

Nicole Akong 17:39
That was something that I came across quite randomly and fortuitously. So I was actually in Soho looking around for a leaving present. A friend of mine was having a leaving so, she was moving to Dubai and I was frantically looking around Soho to get a leaving present for her. And I came across a shop which I thought was a jewellery shop and I went in and it turns out it was a bead shop. There were just lots of components and I was a bit confused. I said to the girl, do you not sell finished jewellery? And she said, Oh, you just pick your components, bring it up here and I'll make something for you. And I was like, What? Right now, you make a necklace now? And she was like, yeah. And as I stood there watching her assemble all these pieces and make this necklace, my mind was blown because up to that point, I'd always bought jewellery and bought fashion I never once considered, I can probably make that even though I was always a very creative person. And I think something in me, I guess the creator in me, which didn't really have much of an outlet at that point, working full time, corporate life, my creativity was probably expressed most in just my dressing. And I would shop a lot I would buy clothes, every week I would buy probably four or five new garments so that I'd have something new to wear the following week. That was a huge huge game changer for me, watching her make that necklace. I suddenly made the connection that oh my god, I could learn to make this stuff myself. And as it turned out the bead shop offered jewellery making classes. So I signed up which was a Saturday one day jewellery making class, I went there and with just learning two or three really basic techniques, and from there, I just started buying up beads, that became my latest obsession. I was just trawling all the jewellery shops or the bead shops, I was buying up beads and at the weekends, I would sit at my dining table and I would make myself jewellery. At that point, I was still working full time in my corporate career, I had no ambitions at all at that point, to start a jewellery business. I saw it as something that was just uplifting me creatively, I suppose. And I was able to wear the jewellery to work and show it off and that felt nice. When I went on maternity leave, I knew from before anyway, all throughout my corporate career. I knew at some point I would be working for myself. It was just a conviction that I had inside and and a desire. I really, really wanted to work for myself. I wanted to be my own boss. I knew that once I went on maternity leave, that would be my chance. I knew in my heart that there's no way I was going back into a career that I did not want to be in long term. So I already made the decision that come hell or high water, I was going to make something work. Believe it or not, even at that point, I hadn't even considered that jewellery could be the business. I had looked into all kinds of other businesses. When I was on maternity leave, I used to spend a lot of time in my local area, Crystal Palace. It's a little triangle of really nice independent shops and boutiques. And I would sit there in the coffee shops and just think, Oh, actually, this place could really use a gelateria or this place can really use a child friendly xyz, and I actually wrote a business plan to open a sort of child-friendly cafe gelateria in Crystal Palace. And then when I thought about it I thought actually I'm starting this business because I have a young child and I want to spend as much time at home as possible. If I open something with premises, I will have the opposite problem. I will not be able to be at home as much as I want. The penny just dropped one day and I keep trying to think about the moment that happened, but I sat down and I thought okay, what are my criteria here - I want to be based from home. I want to a business that I can start off small, with not much overheads where I can work in my own time when the baby's sleeping, I can work all of that stuff. And suddenly I thought, oh my god, all those things I can do with jewellery! It was staring me in the face and I had not seen it until months, like really months into my maternity leave. But that was it. I think once that penny dropped, I just sprung into action. And I put a collection together, I started researching how to start a jewellery business, how to start selling, where to contact buyers, all of that stuff. And thank goodness we have things like Google and search engines today because I don't know how people did this years ago, but that was it. I started contacting buyers from department stores. I mean, I called up the buyer from Harvey Nichols, I caught up a buyer from Kabiri, which is a really well known independent jewellery store in London. And it started a very basic rudimentary website where I put my first collection on there. I was getting some traction. I was getting a couple of meetings, some of them got cancelled the last minute, but just step by step by step as I carried on going and carried on going, I very quickly established a jewellery line. It was something quite astonishing when I look back because I had so many things stacked against me. I mean, I had no experience of the fashion industry at that point. I had no experience of the buying calendar, how anything works. In fact, I brought out my first collection, which was a very Spring/Summer collection, just after they bought autumn winter collections. And so these are all things that are such steep learning curves, and you have a couple of buyers going, Oh, yeah, actually, this is autumn winter and we've already placed our orders for the season. You're like, okay! You feel like such a newb, you know! But this is how you learn.

Jeremy Cline 22:38
So you mentioned that this was something which you knew that maternity leave was a great time to do it. Had you given any thought before then just to get on and do it even before you had kids?

Nicole Akong 22:52
Along my career, I'd had periods where I had been fervishly looking at other business plans. So I went through redundancy at American Express twice. The first time I was out of work for probably two or three months before I got my next job. With every time that happened every time I went through a period of redundancy or when I was in a particular role that I didn't like or wasn't enjoying, something in me would go alright, Nicole, come on, just look for the next thing, start your business, look into it, what can you do? What can you do? What can you do? And one of the first businesses that I was looking to start up - this is when I worked American Express and I think I was going through period of my first redundancy - was a designer event sale business. I was going into it with a friend. And what we were planning to do was designers were coming out of universities and colleges, and needed a leg up and getting exposure, getting sales. We were going to set up events where we would effectively sell their fashion. We went through focus groups, I started writing the business plan, and we took it to a business advisor. All these things were free services at the time. I don't know if they still are. And the advisor just looked at us and was like, you girls are crazy. I think you've totally over projected what you think you can make from this. And it was a massive blow. But looking back, I can only be grateful that those things did not happen, because I don't think it was the right time. And I don't think it was the right business. But I think that thing had always been in me all along. And during periods of time, I had explored different business ideas, but for one reason or another, they just hadn't either felt right in the end or they just hadn't come to fruition in the way that at the time I had hoped. But looking back I think those were all very good things.

Jeremy Cline 24:44
So leaving aside the specifics of the business, what sort of took you back to getting jobs rather than just okay, well, that didn't work so we'll try the next thing and try the next thing. Why did you kind of go back to jobs in between time?

Nicole Akong 24:58
Because they landed on my plate, basically! I don't think I was even actively looking for jobs. The first time I got head hunted and old boss of mine who I worked with at American Express, she had moved to a different company. And she contacted me and said, I'm at this new company, I could really use you. Are you interested? Here's the salary. I'm like, okay, that seems too good to pass up. And that was it. It was literally for the rest of my career. I went to jobs because I was asked to go, or was asked to be there. I was effectively headhunted. And when those opportunities come, I think it is in the absence of anything else that is as compelling, you kind of go for it, right? But yeah, I think that's the biggest reason.

Jeremy Cline 25:38
Were there parts of you at the time thinking, Oh, this is a great opportunity, but Oh, I really want to be doing my own thing?

Nicole Akong 25:44
You know, funnily enough, no, I don't think at that time I really had the conviction in my business idea or my plan to really see it through and I'm a really hard worker, if I have a conviction about something I will see it through to the end, no matter what, but I think at that point, I just didn't have a business idea that I had enough conviction in to do that.

Jeremy Cline 26:06
So when it came to the time that you made the decision that you were going to start the jewellery business, what was the reaction of friends and family when you told them that after maternity leave you were going to start your own thing and you weren't going to go back into a job?

Nicole Akong 26:20
My family were very supportive. My mum and my sisters and brother - were very, very close - they were all completely behind it. In fact, my sister had actually invested in my business very early on. Funny enough, probably the biggest resistance if I could use that word came from my husband, and it wasn't resistance in the sense of I don't think you should do it, but it was a very cautious tempering of my expectations. I think he was a bit like, you do appreciate that you're going into a very competitive industry, things may not take off as quickly as you would like or as quickly as you would hope. And frankly, I think he was a little bit nervous. I mean, suddenly we were gonna drop down to one income and we had just had a baby. And funnily enough for about three months into me starting the business, he got made redundant from his job. And so it was a really touch and go time. And I think he obviously did not have - because he's not in my head - he didn't have the vision that I had. And I guess it was my fault that I didn't quite convey that to him, because partly because I know sometimes when you talk about plans, and when you talk about dreams, it can feel very cynical to other people, it can feel like Okay, all right then, good for you. You know - you can feel so self conscious that that person thinks you have your head in the clouds, there's no way you're going to achieve all the things you say been achieved. And there was an element of that, I think I was very conscious not to share too much of the pie in the sky things that were going on in my own vision and in my own mind, because I didn't want to scare him off into thinking I was just a dreamer. I felt I had to prove it, rather than just say it and that's what I did. I set about and I worked and it's as the successes came and as the victories came, then it was able to go, and this is why. I knew I had conviction, I was able to risk everything to do this because I knew it was gonna work.

Jeremy Cline 28:11
It's really interesting what you say about your husband's approach to it. And I wonder if there's something in that unless someone has kind of been been along with you for the ride sort of mentally speaking that you know, when you kind of present what in your head is a fully formed idea, it's kind of the first time that your significant other is hearing about it. And so, you know, they haven't been through all the thought process that you've been through, the sort of of maybe that, oh maybe that, so comes as a bit of a bit of a shock a bit of a surprise when you suddenly go right okay, so this is what I'm going to do.

Nicole Akong 28:46
Yeah, exactly. We are very, very different. He is extremely risk averse. He researches everything. If we have to make any kind of purchase, a new washing machine or a new car or anything, he will want to do his research.

Jeremy Cline 29:00
I think I like him already!

Nicole Akong 29:01
[Laughs] Whereas I am the opposite, I will go on a gut feeling. I will just go 'This feels right. I'm going to do this'. And he'll go, have you looked into it? Are you sure that's the thing? And I'm like, I'm feeling it. Is that not enough? And so we're very different in that respect. And so I appreciate that. I understand that. I am very conscious of that. And I work around that.

Jeremy Cline 29:26
Did you have in mind when you started a time within which you kind of had to make it work for a given value of what making it work look like?

Nicole Akong 29:36
One of the best expressions that I ever heard, and this is what I took with me into the jewellery, my plan was to become an overnight success in two years. I really think that's how long it takes to become an overnight success by the way. In my mind, I thought within two years, I will know if this has been really viable or not. And what I mean within the first few months, the signs were there that I definitely had something special, I knew I was bringing something special to the industry. And that became very apparent to me within the first few months. I think the money didn't start to follow until two years into the business. So I think two years was the time I'd given myself to see whether it can be viable financially. But I think before that, I would have wanted some sign that I was on the right track, if that makes sense.

Jeremy Cline 30:29
What point did you kind of think that people wanted what you were producing? Was this something that you'd already got indications to that effect from what you were doing as a hobby when you first started making jewellery or was this something where you really didn't get that indication until you'd actually gone full time?

Nicole Akong 30:49
There were little signs. So when I decided I was going to start a jewellery business, I would go to little workshops or seminars and again, back then a lot of them were free. I went to a PR seminar, which was a little afternoon thing about learning how to manage your PR and so on specifically for fashion industries. And I met another girl at the seminar, who loved the necklace I was wearing, so much so that I actually sold it to her off my neck! That was actually my first sale. I sold it to her at a seminar. She loved it so much. And she gave me 100 pounds for it. That was for me, like, wow, oh my god. I would always get compliments whenever I was wearing my jewellery out or on a night house or whatever, somebody would always stop me and say, Oh, my God, where did you get that necklace? And so those little things led me to believe that I definitely had something that was worth talking about.

Jeremy Cline 31:45
You talked about some of the business aspects earlier and how you came out with your summer collection when all the houses were bringing out their autumn winter collections. Looking back I mean was this information that was already out there in terms of the business side of jewellery making, how you sell it, when you sell it all that sort of thing, or was this something that inevitably you just had to learn by doing?

Nicole Akong 32:10
I'm sure the information would be out there. I think I didn't even think to look for it. The whole mechanism of how fashion buying works and all that stuff, it was just so not on my radar. I heard through my research I learned about Okay, you put a collection together, you take it out. Yeah. It just didn't even occur to me to that there would be other elements to it, such as seasonality to consider. Yeah, I think if I had searched for it, I would have found it, but I just didn't even think to search at that time.

Jeremy Cline 32:42
It is really interesting. I think that there are professions or trades out there where you can kind of learn how to do the thing, but not necessarily learn the business side of it. I had an interviewee a while ago who went from car sales to becoming a plumber and they taught plumbing I mean he knows how to do all of that stuff, but in the school, they didn't really teach how to run it as a business, you know, basic bookkeeping and marketing and all that sort of thing. And it's quite incredible, actually, that there does seem to be a lot of people who will teach you how to do the thing, but not necessarily how to do it as a business.

Nicole Akong 33:20
That's so true. I mean, I think if I had gone to a fashion school, if I'd gone and actually studied fashion that might have been built in, because I guess they are setting up their students for life in the fashion business afterwards. But I was completely self taught, and I was an outsider coming in. I wasn't privy to all of that stuff. So I did have to learn it the hard way. I did have to learn everything on the job. But in a way, I think that's good, because you learn very, very, very quickly. There's no substitute for learning something on the job, because you can theorise as much as you want. You could sit in classroom, you can do online courses, you can do all that stuff. But in business, the best way to learn about business is In business, I think no amount of learning about it will teach you as much as actually doing it.

Jeremy Cline 34:06
I think that's absolutely right. I do think there is value from learning from other people's mistakes if you can, though.

Nicole Akong 34:12
True. Yes. You save yourself a lot of heartache, and money.

Jeremy Cline 34:19
And so where is your husband now in terms of the processes - okay, yep, you were right, you've proved yourself?

Nicole Akong 34:26
He's definitely learned not to underestimate me, I'll tell you that much! But I think sometimes he does feel that I get a little bit carried away because like you said, he's not in my mind. And a lot of the time I process something, I've thought about something, I've gone full circle with something and I've landed up on the other side of something. Whereas the last time I spoke about it, I was over there. And the next time I'm over here. He hasn't made that leap that I have, going round in circles. So there are times I think, where he kind of feels a bit Okay, where is she now, is she off again. He works full time. He works in advertising and he's employed full time with an advertising agency. He likes that, he likes security. He does not come from a very entrepreneurial family. They're a great family, very liberal, really great people, but they are jobs for life people, you know what I mean? And I guess maybe it's a generational thing as well, his parents were teachers, and they're now retired on full pensions and you know, they have a really nice, comfortable life. And I think there's this thing of when you start a business, you inherently take on risk and you inherently have to cope, not just for taking on risk, but on just being okay with knowing that things will be uncertain. And you will not always know how things are going to turn out. You have to be comfortable with that and you have to be comfortable with change. And I think that is where sometimes it is challenging, the fact that I am totally wired that way. I tend not to worry about things until they happen, and I tend to have this mindset of, even if the worst happens, it'll be alright. I'll manage it, I'll find a way to get through it. I always have, it's okay. And maybe that's just the way I was brought up. I don't worry about things. It doesn't mean I don't think about things constantly, but I don't fear the worst. I actually just, I don't worry about those things. Whereas he does. He pre-worries about every single scenario that could possibly go wrong. And so he does that on my behalf, which is quite annoying sometimes. But I think that's where we balance each other out, really, because I think sometimes I do need bringing back to earth a little bit otherwise I can go a little bit like, woo I'm over here! It's gonna be great! And he's like, Oh, come back!

Jeremy Cline 36:43
Kind of like the difference between the CEO and the CFO. You know, the CEO says let's do this, and the CFO says, do you really know where that's gonna cost!? Let's bring this back to sewing, because one thing I am actually curious about is why jewellery rather than sewing because as I understand it, you actually started sewing at quite a young age?

Nicole Akong 37:02
I did. I always described sewing as my first love, I'd been sewing since I was a teenager. And I always always loved it. I think I had lost touch with it. So when I went to university, I didn't actually have a sewing machine when I was in university, and so I didn't really do any sewing there. And then when I moved to London, I didn't actually buy myself a sewing machine until probably about five years into being here. Even then I didn't have a lot of confidence about the things I could make. And some of that was psychological because when I was growing up in Trinidad, this was in the 80s in Trinidad, there was not much in the way of fashion that was available ready made - things were very expensive to import into the country ready made. And so there were a few shops selling ready made fashion but they were very expensive. And most people would have a local seamstress, everyone had a seamstress, you would buy your fabric, you would take it to seamstress and tell her what you wanted to make. And that was way cheaper. And so growing up I had the reverse conception that I guess people have here which is my conception was, home made clothes were not as good as ready made clothes. And so even when I started sewing as a teenager, whenever I would make something for myself, and I'd wear it, I'd feel a bit self conscious, I'd be like, Ooh, it's not quite as good as something you'd buy in a shop. I think that was a hangover of that. Even when I began to do little bits of sewing throughout my 20s in London, when I would make something I was always looking for flaws, or I'd think, oh, that doesn't quite look as good as something I could buy in the shop. And, you know, I had this really inferiority complex about the stuff I was making compared to what I could buy in the shop. And it was, like I said, only until about two or three years ago when I began to reconnect with sewing in earnest, and I began to be a lot more intentional about what I wanted to make. And of course, now there are things like YouTube, there's all manner of tutorials and any little thing you want to learn how to do - use this fabric, use stretch, whatever it is, you can look it up and learn about it within five minutes, and then off you go and you're doing it - whereas I didn't obviously have that growing up. And that completely, I think as my confidence in sewing grew, I think that is when things really began to shift because I would not have had the confidence even around the days of the jewellery, I did not have the confidence that I'd be able to see something to the standard that somebody would want to buy, or that I would even want to wear myself, if that makes sense.

Jeremy Cline 39:21
What was the shift then? It was just the availability of resources out there, which helped you to become a better sewer?

Nicole Akong 39:27
I think a big shift was need and desire. I was very clear in my mind about what I wanted to have in my wardrobe. And because I went into that process of sewing with intention, I was able to produce the things that I wanted to produce to the standard that I wanted it to. I mean I was sewing - if I had to go to a party or something maybe I'd sew myself a dress, but it was so sporadic and I was still buying a lot of fashion at the time. So it wasn't even like I felt that much satisfaction from sewing something myself because like I said, I would look at the rest of my wardrobe and think, Oh, it's not as well made as this other thing I've bought. But yeah, I really think the biggest shift came when I started approaching this with intention and desire, like the desire to have the things I was making was so big, that it allowed me to overcome any kind of fears around using fabrics, or it just took me that extra mile to actually get to the stage where I could technically do what I wanted to execute in my mind.

Jeremy Cline 40:32
And where was that desire coming from that led you to go Yeah, I'm going to do this?

Nicole Akong 40:38
A lot of it came from - it was like an emotional hunger. I know it kind of sounds strange, but I have always loved fashion. I think even growing up I used to love dressing up and all that stuff. And throughout my whole corporate career, fashion was always a source of joy for me, which is why I used to shop so much because I loved being able to go to my wardrobe and put different things together and put looks together. It was a real source of joy for me. And when it got to the point where that wasn't happening anymore, I was looking at my wardrobe and it was groaning. Oh my god, the whole bedroom, every shelf, every crevice, every hanger, every drawer was stuffed full of my clothing, yet, only a handful of them I even felt inclined to wear. It was actually quite depressing. You know, it got to a point where I was getting dressed in the morning -okay, also bear in mind where I was at the stage of life, I probably had two kids or I was breastfeeding, whatever it was - and you're not even feeling your best physically anyway. But I didn't even have the act of getting dressed and the act of looking at my wardrobe and being inspired by my clothing. I didn't even have that anymore. And it really depressed me actually. And I wanted to get back to the place where I felt good about getting dressed and felt good when I was leaving the front door, you know - that I could walk down the street and feel like a million dollars. I had really lost connection with that feeling. And I think it was that desire, more than anything that drove me to create that wardrobe that I wanted, to create that wardrobe that made me feel like a million dollars when I walked down the street even if it was just a pair of joggers and a sweatshirt.

Jeremy Cline 42:08
And then when it comes to Sewing Bee itself, I mean what actually led you to decide to apply to be on Sewing Bee? It is quite a cosy show in the sort of Bake Off mould, it's not a show that you go on expecting ritual humiliation. I'm sure you were aware at that point that you know you do have these judges who you know generally Patrick and Esme did come across as being quite nice, but they could make some fairly cutting remarks, so why why go through that?

Nicole Akong 42:39
Funnily enough, even though I love sewing, the series before ours was the first series of the Sewing Bee I'd ever watched, even though it was series five. For some reason I just never took the time to properly watch it, but I did for this last series and I was prompted by a friend who said oh you sew, you'd probably love the Sewing Bee and I thought, okay, I'll give that a go. And so I watched the whole of the last series, and as they were going through the challenges, in my mind, I remember sitting there on the sofa thinking, I wonder what I would do with that? How would I transform that? Would I even be able to finish that in time? Questioning my own ability. And most the time the answer was, I don't know if I could, I don't know if I could finish on time. I don't know how I would transform that and if it would look any good. But as the series finished, and I was left kind of hanging, I guess, as we all will, you know, after the final finishes, you've been in engrossed in the show for how long and then all of a sudden, it's like, no, it's finished! I don't know if something in me, this voice in me just went you know, why don't you apply for the next one? But that was also by the way prompted by my decision that after my wilderness time, you know, that two year period I mentioned where I was a little bit in this career limbo kind of wilderness, I felt I had been hiding. I felt that I'd spent two years in my studio sewing and making things and making my own wardrobe is all well and good, but I was not being seen. I kept thinking of that. What is it that question of if a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound? You know, it was that sort of thing. Here I am in my studio by myself. Yes, I'm making all these beautiful clothes and yes, I'm doing all this stuff but nobody is seeing it. And I made a conscious effort actually, at the beginning of 2019, I labelled 2019 as my year of Daring Greatly, there was a book that I was reading at the time called Daring Greatly, and I began to realise that actually I need to come out of this hermit tree. I need to be seen and I need to share my work in some shape or form with the world for whatever it's worth. It's not worth doing all this work and just keeping it to myself and hiding away - I'm not doing anyone a service by that. A big part of me applying for the Sewing Bee was me putting that stake in the ground to say, I am going to come out of my cave, and I am going to be seen again. And that was purely for me to break myself out of I think the cosy little habit that I'd had. I mean, that was my lockdown. I already perfected lockdown way before lockdown came! But yeah, that was me going enough is enough. You need to come out, you need to come out and you need to be seen.

Jeremy Cline 45:10
And you mentioned at the start how you sort of visualised yourself getting through, going through the rounds, getting to the final. Was there any point you know, when maybe you met your fellow contestants or maybe after the first couple of rounds, were there any points for that visualisation was shaken at all? So looking around you thinking, oh, wow, they're a bit good aren't they?

Jeremy Cline 45:28
You know, the first time that vision was shaken and I felt it was in real jeopardy was when you're waiting for the judging, the very final judging like who goes home and who stays in the semi final - up until that point, no matter what had gone wrong, no matter what had happened, when it came to judging, I did feel I know I'm through. I'm not worried. But when it got to the semi final and it was Matt, Claire, Liz and I and I remember calling my friend Audra, who modelled for me in the final. I called her that evening while we were in our little chilled space waiting for the judges to come and give us a result. I rang Audra just to say, there is a chance that I may not be getting through to the final, after all. That was the only time that was the only time I really did feel I could be going home today.

Jeremy Cline 46:23
I'm gonna say self confidence, which I don't mean at all in a sort of derogatory way, which I know some people don't see it that way. But is this something that you've always had? Or is this something that you've had to work on?

Nicole Akong 46:33
I think it's something I've always had. I mean, I grew up with second generation Chinese parents. And I don't mean that to put that in any kind of pigeonhole, but my parents were always very, very supportive of us as kids all the way through school. My dad especially would always be expecting the best of us, but not in that sort of threatening way of 'Oh you've got to study or else', but it was just he was always there, always supporting and always believing, I think and I guess whereas I think some people go through negative feedback loops through their life and that's what erodes their self confidence. Because I think actually all kids are born with natural self confidence. I feel that it gets eroded through negative feedback loops. But I think fortunately for me, I got caught in positive feedback loops, which was, I was quite a sort of energetic, studious person anyway, even when I was at school, I did always enjoy learning. I was like, a teacher's pet really, I just I loved being praised at school. I loved doing well, I loved learning. And because of that, I would do well, I would do well in my reports, I would do well in my exams, and my parents would be proud and I also through that had this confidence that I know that when I apply myself, I will do well, I think that's the belief that I grew up with from since I was a child. I know that if I apply myself I will do well and that was across everything - when I did piano, I was probably the only one of my siblings that really practised quite continuously even though I don't think I was a naturally gifted pianist, but I practised a lot, and I would get distinctions in my exams. And I think through the series of doing and achieving and doing and achieving, I began to build up a belief in myself, that whatever I attempt to do, as long as I stick at it, and as long as I practice, I will do well, because that has been my experience ever since I was a child.

Jeremy Cline 48:31
I've got to ask you one or two behind the scenes questions. Did you actually watch when it came out on TV the most recent series of Sewing Bee, so have you seen in all its entity glory?

Nicole Akong 48:41
Yes. The one I was in?

Jeremy Cline 48:43
The one you were in? Yes.

Nicole Akong 48:44
Yeah, of course!

Jeremy Cline 48:47
Some people might not want to! Were there any bits in the way it was edited that kind of made you think, hang on a minute, it wasn't like that. I'm thinking in particular, I think it was Bake Off a few years ago, where there was the Baked Alaska scandal where it was edited in such a way that it looked as though one contestant had jeopardised the Baked Alaska of another. Were there any moments like that, where you watched it and thought hang on a second, it didn't happen like that?

Nicole Akong 49:13
A few. But the one that sticks out in my mind was I think it was maybe in sleepwear week where we had to make the basque, and Claire had chosen the same fabric as me. So I'd selected my fabric and then she said, Oh, would you mind terribly if I use the same fabric? And in the show, it showed me kind of in Trinidad what we call cut eye, right, which is where you kind of look at somebody sideways. It kind of looked like I was looking at her sideways. In Trinidad we call it cut eye, which is when you kind of look at somebody sideways. And in the edits I'm kind of looking at her sideways and just going Yeah, fine. It kind of looked as though I was really unhappy with the fact that she chose the same fabric as me, but in actual fact, I was fine with it. I think it's just in my mind, I think on the day, I was already moving on to Okay, what else do I need? My mind was there. And then she went, Oh, do you mind it was like Yeah, fine. But yeah, I think a few people on Twitter had really kind of commented on that, Oh, she shouldn't have done that, or blah blah blah. But yeah, I think that's that's probably the one that really stuck out in my mind!

Jeremy Cline 50:15
I think we just don't appreciate watching it, I mean, when they say you've got four hours or five hours, and then that gets condensed into 10 minutes or 15 minutes. I mean, I can't really imagine the intensity, just keeping it going for that length of time.

Nicole Akong 50:28
And I think that is the thing that a lot of people who watch, don't appreciate. So even things like in the final when people felt that I was robbed, obviously everyone has an opinion about things. But I can tell you that there is so much more to the critique in the real life than they edit into the show. And especially in the earlier episodes where there were lots more of us, and as you said what was probably a half an hour critique gets cut down into 30 seconds and so it kind of glosses over a lot of mistakes people have made, it glosses over a lot of things that had been brought up, which in the edit makes it look like oh, that dress was executed perfectly. It's only this person that messed up royally. Whereas the truth is, we had all had things about our garments that were not perfect, but they hadn't shown that and so it's easy for people to look at those the edited version and go, Oh, so and so was robbed or so and so's thing was better. Actually, there was a lot about it that you did not hear about, that you don't know, that makes the judging sometimes seem like you don't understand how they came to that decision. Whereas it really makes sense in real life.

Jeremy Cline 51:37
Okay, so the judging actually goes on quite a bit longer than they show on TV?

Nicole Akong 51:42
Absolutely. I mean, to give you an idea, the very first episode for the pattern challenge judging, we were stood there for two and a half hours, my goodness, two and a half hours for the first part and test judging got condensed into three minutes. So there is a lot they don't show, you see way less than actually happened.

Jeremy Cline 52:02
And so, House of Akong - you've talked about the influence the Sewing Bee has had on the direction that you're taking there. What do you hope that your five year self will tell you about what the House of Akong is doing?

Nicole Akong 52:16
Well, I hope that my five year future self would look at me now and actually with the same eyes, I think that I look back at my starting jewellery self. I think my starting jewellery self was naive in many respects, but in a way that I think serves you well, when you're starting something new. What I feel with House of Akong is that I am creating a whole new model for how a designer fashion house can work, to do with production, to do with marketing, all the rest of it. I am building that consciously. And I feel that in some ways, the less you know, the better - even though you've got a bigger learning curve, I think when you rely too much on what's gone before, you will just repeat old patterns and you will not innovate and you will not do something new. I feel that my five year future self is going to look back, wince a little bit because there's going to be a lot happening between now and then for which I will probably feel a lot of pain and burn a little bit. But in the end, I think that is all part of the journey. Yeah, I think my five year future self will be looking at me now as a bit of a kind of enthusiastic rookie, but with with a lot to learn, but also with the drive and the energy to be able to learn it.

Jeremy Cline 53:35
Nicole this has been a wonderful conversation. Before you go, you've mentioned one book, Daring Greatly. Are there any other particular resources, books, quotes, anything that's you know, really inspired you or helped you in your journey so far?

Nicole Akong 53:50
Yeah, there are. I will mention a couple I think that have been most instrumental for me. One, and they're not really career books at all. One is called The Instruction by a guy called Ainslie MacLeod. He is a psychic. And he's written this book that he says he channelled from his spirit guides and all this. But what that book did for me is because he talks about you on a soul level, he really gets you to explore yourself on a soul level. And therefore, what are you here to do in this lifetime. And I felt that when I read that book, I finally came to terms with the knowledge and the realisation that my soul is here on a mission to create. I really believe that I would have been put here in this lifetime, to be a creator and to create and once I had begun to really accept that, whatever happens now, that is my ultimate conviction. And once I know that what I'm doing is fulfilling that purpose of always taking that space of creating, I don't think I could go wrong. I think that is where my soul needs to go. And so I think that book was quite instrumental for me and not just career wise, but I think understanding other people as well. I would recommend it to anybody that was feeling a bit lost around their purpose, and what they should do with their lives. Because I think what that helps with is really, like I said, connecting you with the ultimate purpose of your existence in this lifetime, whether it's to be a healer, whether it's to be a teacher, whether it's to be a helper, whether it's to be a creator, a thinker, you know - he has all these different categories. I think once you get back to that stripped away element of this is essentially what I'm here to do, and unless I am doing that, my soul will always be unfulfilled. I think that was really an amazing book. And the second resource is I follow a mystic yogi. So he's called Sadhguru. So Sadhguru is on Facebook and Instagram, all over the place. So he's like an Indian mystic and he talks about all aspects of life. But even with career, because he goes, he does he talks where people just ask him all kinds of questions and what I always take away from him because I think what I like about the way he addresses any question whether it is what I do with my life, whether it is anything to do with health, nutrition, whatever it is, he will bring it back to an essential truth. I think as humans when we hear essential truth, no matter how indoctrinated we've been in one religion, or one system or whatever, I think once we hear an essential truth, I think we recognise it. And the one thing that I remember, he's always stuck with me, one thing he said, When somebody asked him, How do I find that purpose? What do I do with my life? The one thing he said is, do what is needed. And that is what I come back to with my business as well, because it's all well and good, especially when you're a fashion business. It's easy to go, who needs this stuff, who needs more fashion? And I think actually, that is probably why the majority of fashion businesses struggle because they are not doing what is needed. With House of Akong that is for me a question I keep asking over and over again, what is needed now? And for me, that's actually what brought me to the whole idea, this whole circular economy, of saying here are all these people who can sew and who want to make some extra money, people have lost their jobs, they've been furloughed during the lockdown, and they're sitting on a skill and I'm just thinking, why don't we find a way for you to use that and to make money from that, you know, because people have that need, there was a need for people to make money working from home and doing what they love. And so even if I could fulfil just that one need, I think I've done something well.

Jeremy Cline 57:38
Fantastic. That's absolutely wonderful. Nicole, where can people find you if they want to get in touch and join your movement?

Nicole Akong 57:46
Sure. So I'm probably most active on Instagram. So my personal Instagram is Nicole_Akong. And also House of Akong is also on Instagram, just at House of Akong, and my website is houseofakong.com.

Jeremy Cline 57:59
I will link to all of those in the show notes. Nicole, this has been an incredible conversation. Thank you so much for taking the time. And best of luck with your journey. I can't wait to see where it goes.

Nicole Akong 58:10
Thank you so much to Jeremy. Thank you. It's been a real honour.

Jeremy Cline 58:13
Wow, I hope you enjoyed that interview with Nicole Akong as much as I did interviewing her. Star of 2020 Sewing Bee, an absolute force of nature. It was a real real privilege to interview her and so much good stuff to unpack in that episode. One of the really interesting points that she touched on was this idea how she effectively created a virtuous circle for herself - she would do something and achieve that would lead her to doing more which would lead her to achieving. Now sure not everything you do is necessarily going to lead to success, but the fact that she carried on plugging away, do and then achieve, and then do some more and do some more just the practice of doing has got her to where she is today. Her comment about planning to be an overnight success in two years time as well. I thought that was great because it's just a story that I hear so often with, particularly with entrepreneurs, there's this misconception that people suddenly storm on to the scene as if by magic fully formed. And, you know, people just don't appreciate all the time and effort that's actually gone there beforehand or the preparation that's led up to that person storming onto the scene and becoming an overnight success. And I guess one of the things I took away from that is that one needs to be patient. Immediate success is unlikely, it's going to take time, effort, energy, but with planning, we can get there. As always, you'll find show notes on the website, they're at changeworklife.com/53 for Episode 53. And if you enjoyed this episode, and some of what Nicole was saying resonated with you, then please do share. I would love it if you would email or Facebook or whatever, just let your friends know about this episode. It would mean so much to me. And if you got something out of it, other people are going to as well. Next week, we're talking about something which I haven't really focused on as yet during in the podcast, which 50 odd episodes later on, I'm quite surprised. And that is the topic of leadership. What is leadership? How does it differ from management? What makes a good leader? Are we all leaders? That's what we're going to be talking about in next week's interview. So hit subscribe if you haven't done already, and I can't wait to see you there. Cheers. Bye.

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