As long as I can remember I have loved travel and exploration.
I think my obsession started when I was three when my family took me on my first holiday to Majorca in the Balearic Islands of Spain. Playing in the ocean, eating new foods and meeting different cultures became part of my life.
After I finished my education I had no idea what I wanted to do career wise, so I did what a lot of people in the UK were doing at the time; packed a backpack and set off travelling across the world to Australia.
I spent the next 6 months roaming that country, and then moving on to New Zealand and Fiji.
After 6 months I ran out of money and had to return home, but I felt like I hadn’t completed my adventure, so a year later I set off again, this time for 12 months.
Firstly, because I had fallen in love with the country, I went back to Australia to explore the west coast and through the outback, and then moved on to South East Asia where I travelled throughout the region.
Due to my budget I travelled the slow way which meant I got to see everything. This included taking slow boats down the Mekong into Laos where I stayed with the local hill tribes, which was a big highlight.
This time I was better with money, taking with me initially 3k for the year, and working jobs when I started to run low. I learnt the value of money, the kindness of strangers, and the fascination of different cultures.
During my early teenage years, and then into my twenties as I began to travel more, I became fascinated with history and the early explorers.
One in particular stood out to me; Captain James Cook.
His story was different. He was a working class guy from the North of England who became a captain in the Royal Navy, a job normally reserved for the upper class. Cook and his crew sailed off into the unknown, into dangerous waters and far off lands to discover and chart ‘undiscovered’ places.
I was impressed with his crew’s ability to draw charts of what they found, and if you place their work over today’s maps they are remarkably accurate.
It can be argued that Cook and many others like him opened up the world, meaning that today it is easy for us all to travel and explore.
What I didn’t really understand at the time is that Cook and others like him were a cog in Britain’s history of colonialisation.
In reading about Cook, in general, he and the indigenous populations he encountered forged good relationships, but there’s no doubt that the steps Britain and other countries like it, took to colonise huge parts of the World resulted in displacement and mis-treatment of the indigenous populations which still goes on today.
After returning home from that trip, I continued to travel, and was lucky enough to find and build a career in the fashion and lifestyle industry, which has allowed me to continue my love of travel and living in different places with different cultures.
During my career, I have seen the huge waste and damage that the fashion industry creates.
It is the second biggest polluter of the planet and is playing a massive part in the damaging of the world we live in.
As the years have gone by, that has started to sit more uncomfortably with me which has led me to building my own brand.
I believe it is possible to make great clothes and accessories without creating as much waste.
It is possible to create great items that last for a long time, and it is possible to use materials that are more friendly to the environment.
I also believe that it is possible to create a clothing brand where its sole purpose isn’t to just sell as many ‘things’ as it can, but to build a community of like-minded people that can come together and share stories and ideas that encourage us to explore our magical world, whilst helping it thrive in the process.
And this is why I built Cook.
Cook as a brand name is a controversial one. Yes, he was a pioneer, and where we travel today is made easier because of people like him. But, his name also no doubt has a more sinister side, one that represents the behaviours of countries that were hell-bent on expanding their influence abroad to the detriment of the local populations.
So, with that in mind I shouldn’t have chosen the name, should I?
I disagree with that. You can’t change history, you can only affect the future, and I believe using the name Cook will allow us to focus on celebrating our pioneers, but provoke discussion and drive people to help right those wrongs of the past. To come together to do good, to help our planet and all those on it.
That is our goal.
As we build each collection, I not only want to create incredible product that people love and wear for a long time, but also to give back. Each year we will pick a cause and donate a % of our profits to it.
For this year we are going to focus on modern slavery.
Slavery has affected millions of people on our planet and it is hasn’t gone away. It is still very real.
It is estimated that 40 million are currently enslaved and are all around us in every country, and on every continent.
1 in every 4 modern slavery victims are children according to ILO statistics.
Anti Slavery International are the oldest human rights organisation in the World, and are doing an incredible job in trying to put an end to slavery.
To read more about what they do, and to become a member please click here.
Our goal is to give people confidence to explore the World we live in, to cherish it, to conserve it, and to help right some wrongs of the past.
Thank you for being part of our journey.