11th March 2018
Being a Hoxby lets you CTRL+ALT+DEL: control your time; alter your workstyle to suit your lifestyle and delete that commute to the soul-shredding office job. No Hoxby better embodies this sense of CTRL+ALT+DEL than Simon Parrott: full-time dad, full-time creative.
“I’ve always been a workaholic. My habits – anybody who knows me, even the people who know me from Hoxby – they just go, ‘4am you sent this email?!’ I’m not particularly a morning person, I can do it but I’ll work until midday and then my mind drifts, I’ll get sidetracked with stuff and then the kids come home from school and then I’ll be taking them to football and I’ll finally turn my Mac back on about nine o’clock at night and then work until three or four o’clock in the morning.
“Hoxby let’s me work when it’s all quiet and everybody’s gone to bed; when the phone’s not ringing anymore, and there’s no places I can go to and there’s no DIY I can start hammering about with. All of those distractions that are there in the day aren’t there when you go into an office and I find that quite hard, which is why I need to be able to work when I want and how I want.
“I said to my wife the other day, ‘How do people do stuff and have lives when they have full-time jobs?’ I just don’t understand. Even stuff like taking things to the post office, you have to do it in your lunch hour and then you have to suffer the queues. How do they do that? I have never understood that. It blows my mind how people can have lives with full-time jobs. If you’ve got kids as well then it is nigh-on impossible surely?!”
Although Simon hit 50 last year he shows no sign of letting up. In fact Hoxby has given him a new lease of life. “I had been given a boot up the backside by an old colleague from my Landor days. When I asked him if he thought I was ready for the scrapheap he told me I had to catch up with the times and start to market myself. I’d been working for 25 years as a freelancer and never had to market myself, never needed a website, never needed to cold call anyone. He told me I had to get on LinkedIn, that I had to engage and keep my profile up to date.
“Then there was a design gig I saw on there, I didn’t get the gig but the guy told me about this Hoxby Collective. So I looked into it and started the application process as part of my new marketing push. And the thing I realised is that you have to be pretty dedicated to commit to the process. But I found it therapeutic because it was actually asking questions based around what you wanted from life and work, it wasn’t just a case of send in your name and CV and join a pile of other CVs. The process helped me clarify at this stage what it is that I want from life. I didn’t just want a gig, charge my day rate and be done with it, Hoxby is obviously much different.”
So as well as seeing in a new decade in typical Parrott fashion: on his board, on the slopes, Simon celebrated the big Five-Oh by becoming a Hoxby. He knew it was perfect for him from the moment his interview began. “I realised that it was going to be a great fit during my interview process with Brad. We’re pretty much the same age, we grew up with the same designers and even though he’s the other side of the Pond, when we grew up there was a really big typographic movement and a lot of that was West Coast and East Coast typography as well as London typography. We were like two old men in a pub reminiscing about the good old days over a pint of bitter.
“The great thing about Hoxby is meeting people who have shared similar industry – and life – challenges and experiences. There is so much you don’t learn from marketing school, you learn it in the real world, from travel, from having kids. I think as you get older you shed some of the ego that can hold you back from admitting the gaps in your knowledge, from listening and taking on board the ideas of others.”
And Hoxby has helped Simon rise to the challenges being an industry veteran brings.
“Hoxby has been great in that respect. I think the challenge for me on hitting 50 last year was to make people realise that when you hit this age in your working life it doesn’t mean that you’re ready for the grave and that experience is something to be relished and not something to hold you back. That made last year the most challenging year I have had since I started in Design. It was really about ‘Am I valid? Is there a place for a 50-year-old guy in this digital new age?’
“You start second guessing yourself even though you know that your portfolio is stronger than anything produced by the company you’re pitching to. And one of the questions I often get now is, ‘Oh, do you do digital?’ ‘Hang on, I was using Macs before you were born!’. Often these young guys think they invented digital and because I can’t code they think I’m not digital. I thought, ‘I won’t stress about it, what will be will be’ and that’s when Hoxby came into my life.”
But back to those revolutionary Macs and Simon’s younger days. “I just got really into it and was pushing the boundaries of what you can do on them. One of my good friends back then, who is still a good friend today, was an Apple engineer so he was able to get me the best equipment ahead of other people. So with about four years of experience under my belt I started to pick up freelance work, we used to call it KD (“Keep in the Dark”), and soon I just had too much of it. I basically quit my job, took a punt and I don’t think I’ve had a full-time job since.”
And thanks to Hoxby Simon may never have to get another one for as long as he works. “I started working for Bee Midtown, one of Hoxby’s forward-thinking clients back in September and I’ve carried on from that and I’m still here. I’ve been around creative industries long enough, there are people you meet and you just know that they are on it and that is what I’ve found with other Hoxbys. When something is done by a Hoxby it is done and when you are working remotely that is ideal.”