Have you ever wanted to start a business? Its one of my personal dreams for the future, and whether its a patisserie or a media empire I can probably see myself going a similar way as Charlie Beall, who tried out a few different careers before launching online boutique directory the Darling Collective, where users can find quirky, high quality local businesses and services. After growing up in South Africa, Charlie moved to the UK in his teens and studied at Cambridge, after which he became involved in the arts rather than business. He worked as a musician and actor before mixing creativity with entrepreneurship to make what he describes as “a place for unique activities delivered by amazing, uncompromising people”. His background, which includes time working for a talent agency before retraining in marketing in the media and publishing sectors, means that Charlie brings an interesting skill set to his new business, which combines a fair trade approach and unique services. But how does Charlie’s business actually work? I found out from the man himself.
Can boutique chic convert Generation Pile Em High?
Discrimination isn’t right, but the future isn’t necessarily orange…
French dating site Adopte Un Mec (Adopt A Guy), has just hosted a rather unusual promotion. It’s quite an odd site to begin with; women are invited to add potential dates to an imaginary basket, all of whom are ranked by tongue-in-cheek categories like “ease of use”. Rather than feeling like an exercise in female liberation, however, it smacks of gimmickry. As a result, unlike sites like eHarmony, which boasts of being able to match up couples so well that they often end up getting married, or even Tastebuds, which relies on the slightly more tenuous methodology of musical compatibility, Adopte Un Mec’s flippant layout is the Tesco.com of dating sites. Matchsticks.com, if you like. It’s so subversively stupid it’s gotta be a postfeminist joke, right?
I digress – the tagline for the site’s unusual promotion read ”série spéciale carottes, cultivez-les avec soin” (carrot special, cultivate them with care), and encouraged women to contact redheaded guys “pour voir la vie en orange”. An obvious joke, the website banner boasted a picture of a Napoleon Dynamite lookalike and was an adept marketing ploy shared with the site’s 100,000 or so Facebook fans.
It was a campaign that aimed to laugh with redheads rather than at them, but it left me feeling uneasy nonetheless. As a lapsed redhead (years of intervention to have titian tresses = less pre-Rafaelite, more post-apocolyptic), I’ve never understood the random abuse and ridicule associated with red hair. South Park’s “soulless” jibes circa 2005 are about as funny as eugenics, e.g not at all…
One thing I understand even less than unprovoked jibes, however, is overcompensating for this form of ignorance. X Factor’s ex-ginger Kitty Brucknell whining to the tabloids about being forced to dye her hair blonde was an insincere waste of column inches. Likewise, articles championing Lily Cole/Prince Harry/Christina Hendricks/Florence Welch (delete as appropriate) can seem saccharine when they reference hair colour in their opening paragraphs, and only two of those are real redheads anyway. People aren’t talented/pretty/interesting etc. because of their hair colour, but it feels as though the message is that they’ve succeeded in spite of it. Unnecessary pity only seems to undermine the egalitarian world (jk) we supposedly live in.
A note to Adopte Un Mec, then: 1. your concept might be inventive but subjecting redheads to positive discrimination is patronising and certainly not de rigeur. Imagine if the US brought back affirmative action towards African Americans – a slightly more drastic example here but a worrying regressive comparsion nonetheless. We should be judging people on their merits, not giving them a virtual leg-up they probably don’t want… or need. 2. A joke is supposed to be funny. Nul points.
Three years of hannahjdavies.com and counting. Major thanks to everyone I’ve worked with this year, and to you for reading. Have a brilliant new year.
P.s. I’m in Word magazine out on Jan 12th reviewing a fresh look at Bob Dylan, wahey!