We continue our series introducing you to the team behind Hochanda, and share their creative side of life.
It was such a pleasure to chat to Paul and see some of the fabulous things he’s created. It’s so interesting, and certainly explains why Hochanda is such a passion for him:
1. Hi Paul, it’s lovely to have a chance to ask you questions, and find out about your love of crafting – when did you find your love of being creative?
Since a small boy I have loved crafting. When I was 6 years old my mum bought me some rubber Toby Jug moulds and a bag of plaster of paris . I loved making theses ornaments and then painting them …. Very 6 year old badly ! …yes they were truly awful, but I didn’t realise that at the time . Anyway I then went round to all our neighbours and sold them . So I guess the seeds of becoming both a passionate crafter and entrepreneur were sown . Thinking back, as I wasn’t very bright, and went to a secondary school which focused on practical rather than academic subjects, and I found I loved woodwork . As well as acquiring basic woodworking skills I was taught to use a wood turning lathe . Also like most children in the 50’s and 60’s we all became devotees of Blue Peter and Tony Hart and also loved doing the projects shown on T V using everyday household objects, like discarded egg cartons , toilet roll cores and never forgetting the then famous sticky backed plastic ! My triumph was to make the Tracy Island project ….no don’t ask . So in summary in my early life crafting featured very prominently and now I am a senior I am returning to my childhood passions and interests , hence the fulfilment of a dream ……the launch of Hochanda so I can share the thrills , passion and total satisfaction of completing a craft project or skill, whatever they may be, with as many people as possible.
2. You have so much experience in the world of Shopping Television, how, and why, did you get involved in this sector initially?
As mentioned I guess I am both an entrepreneur and a born salesman at heart , skills inherited from my mum who was crazy , eccentric , bohemian , creative and most definitely a born saleswoman . How she ever raised my brother and I is a miracle but I loved her so much . So as an entrepreneur I have invented a variety of products down the years, each has its own story to tell from the Shop Box – a folding lightweight plastic box to replace supermarket throwaway bags , Dream Wizzard the miracle pillow that could save your marriage , the International King Chef sausage maker , never eat a sausage again that you don’t know what’s in it and so on and so on ……However all the products, though unique, really needed to be demonstrated to sell and so I found myself renting stands at the Ideal Home exhibition and all the country fairs and putting on my own selling street theatre show – where the applause was to get people to but my product ! With 4 children my wife finally put her foot down, and said no more to being away from home , her and my children for weeks on end and travelling the length of the country – or else ! So…..I began a unique mail order catalogue called Ideal Home Mail Order . This was a fantastic success which I started in 1989 . When creating mail order advertisements there was a process Headline , Picture , and the PriceOffer and I found I had some skill creating compelling selling product descriptions and copy which is truly a black art . In the early 90’s QVC, the American TV shopping channel, appeared in the U K . I saw an opportunity to take all my unique products, which by that time I was selling in my catalogue as well as off the page advertisements in national newspapers and magazines, and return to my roots of live demonstration selling but using T V to talk to people, rather than renting stands at shows up and down the country . I launched Ideal World Shopping Channel the UK’s second live interactive TV shopping channel which was, and continues to be, a huge success . Whilst Ideal World sold general merchandise, in 2003 I launched a second TV shopping channel dedicated to selling craft items – having first tested the concept on the main Idea World channel . This dedicated craft channel was, and indeed remains, Create and Craft and this has been especially successful . I decided to retire in 2013 and sold the business and played golf and began crafting again but soon got bored and wanted one last challenge …..
When you retire there are so many things you want to do but have never had the time during your working career . I discovered many retirees like me wanted to paint , do woodworking projects , learn to knit and crochet ,etc , etc .a seemingly endless list of different crafts , hobbies and arts skills all of which could become challenging , absorbing but most importantly satisfying . The big problem is where can you go to review and learn these new crafts ,hobbies and art skills and get inspired and involved . Simply that’s why I decided to reactivate my career and hopefully get all people irrespective of age or gender inspired and involved in a craft , hobby or art skill by launching Hochanda . Doing something personal and creative opens the door for people to share their newly acquired skills and experience with others and make new friends . How cool is that in today’s mad mad world ! So where did all this passion for getting creative come from ? My mum of course .
3. So, your have been tempted out of retirement to bring us Hochanda and a world full of crafts. You obviously have a passion for crafting, where do you think this originated from?
Oh boy Yes , Yes And Yes again ! I can’t draw or paint and would like to have a go . I used to do pottery at school and would love to take that up again particularly to throw a pot on a wheel . And lastly take up Willow Weaving . The list is endless for me and I know each activity promises its own fabulous fulfilling journey !
4. I love the wood turning pieces and the beautiful marquetry box, they are really impressive. Is this something you studied?
Back in the day when you were not academically bright you went to secondary modern school where the focus was on teaching practical skills rather than pure academic skills . So I guess this , and being naturally good with my hands lent itself to making things which we now label Crafting. I have always loved working with wood in particular . For me there is something magical when working with all the different variety of wood , their grain , colour , hardness etc. I therefore tended to follow wood based crafts which led me to cabinet making and wood turning in particular.
5. It's so touching that your marquetry box is used and loved - do you enjoy making things that are practical, beautiful and tactile?
There is nothing in this world in my opinion more satisfying than creating and making, a very personal and fulfilling object whatever it may be . Of course many times you make something and either gift it to someone or sell it . For me personally, it’s a truly personal experience , for example I made a marketery fire guard for my mum when I was about 10 years old . Looking back , it wasn’t perfect by any means, but I made it and my mum loved it, and it remained her prized possession until the day she died . For her it was an expression of pure love . Did I mention she was eccentric ? So how gratifying is that . Simply the best in my opinion.
Thank you so much Paul, it was really interesting learning where the passion for bringing Hochanda to our screens originates from. Your mum sounds like she was a brilliant lady! Good luck trying all the crafts on your list – I know there will be many readers out there who have a “to do” list just as long.