Petit Miracle Hub Entrepreneur interview
Meet Alan Insua
What is your background?
After completing a HND in Business IT at South Bank University I worked at a few jobs, mostly retail, with my last job being at John Lewis Head Office in an admin role where I worked for 8 years. While I was working there I came up with the idea to start “the Hidden Hand” and between the commutes to and from work, my lunch breaks and a few late nights after the children were in bed, I managed to start up my business.
Tell us about your business?
The Hidden Hand is a t-shirt brand that through our t-shirt designs and website aspire to give people just a peak under the veil of what the mainstream media doesn’t tell us, or doesn’t want us to know. The themes that are covered in our designs are mainly only covered in alternative media, but our aim at the Hidden Hand is to change that to where these themes become the mainstream as we feel that one of the major problems in this world is the suppression of information, and we hope to just do our little bit in trying to expose some truth.
My wife and I were on holiday in Barcelona about 2 years ago and we were walking past a few shops. My wife pointed out a couple of t-shirts that she thought I might like. I proceeded to pull my usual face when I don’t like something that she thinks would “suit me”, at which point she became quite annoyed and said “for goodness sake, you are so picky about your blooming t-shirts, why don’t you design your own” (or words to that effect). I had been chewing her ear that holiday about a new book I was reading about “conspiracy theories”, and that basically became the beginning of the idea for the Hidden Hand. I’ve been interested in so called “conspiracy theories” and subjects covered in alternative media for quite some time. My dad grew up in Franco era Spain where political corruption and the corruption of the church was just something that people had to live with, so I think he instilled in me a healthy (depending on your point of view) distrust of authority.
I’d say the most challenging thing has been trying to promote my brand without spending too much on advertising. When I first launched my business I began advertising on a couple of alternative media websites. Being quite naive as to how many sales I would get I realised that the advertising costs were far too high and I wasn’t even close to breaking even. I am trying to build up a social media presence but I’ve come to realise that this is a skill in itself and can be quite time consuming.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
I’ve always felt quite strongly about not having a debt hanging over me before I even began trading. I know there are many companies that have taken loans from banks or building societies and been successful, but I always felt it would be an added pressure to have a loan to pay back whether your business was successful or not. I saved as much as possible before I left my job and just about managed to start up my business with what I saved. I do realise that it depends on what type of business you are thinking of starting, and perhaps for some people having that added pressure might give them the extra incentive to get out there and make it happen. But personally I wouldn’t like to see someone’s great business idea get snuffed out before it had a chance to reach its potential just because of financial reasons.
Although I’ve only been trading at Petit Miracle for 3 months, Elisicia has been so supportive and encouraging with my business from the beginning. Petit Miracles is the first shop I have traded at so I didn’t really know what to expect but everyone has been really friendly and helpful. Also as the traders are all in a similar situation there seems to be a nice community feel between everyone where people openly give each other advice and encouragement. This has been a great experience and I have learnt a lot since I began trading here.
In 5 years time…
I’m quite optimistic when it comes to world affairs and more and more I believe that people are starting to question what we are told by our governments and the media, so with any luck my business will be obsolete in 5 years. But realistically I think that there will still be information that needs to get out into the public and I feel that more and more people will be looking for alternative avenues to find out what’s really going on in the world. I hope that in 5 years time I will have a following of people that visit my website on a regular basis. I also hope to have my own shop where I could sell my clothing line from and use it as a platform to get information out there.