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Life Change: Releasing Debt's Strangle On My Family

I’m back. I wasn't away for long, but my god it feels like ages. A new life, in a way... 

When you run a small business you rely on yourself, you get things done. You make sacrifices for the greater good. Needs must. Physical, mental, financial risk. These are the unglamorous realities of starting a business for most.

Don't get me wrong, I love FRAHM. I do this for many wonderful reasons. But like all the best stuff, it's not easy and it comes at a price. Literal and metaphorical.

At what price? Is it worth it for me, you and our families? For us, not entirely, so with my wife we made a major positive life change last week. We moved family home.

Big deal. It's not exactly unusual! It wasn't far.... The key is the house is smaller. We went down, not up. That word...DOWN. Less. Lower. Negative (?)

To many professionals (and for a long time us too) these seems insane. Always be acquiring!

We get funny looks. Smaller, not bigger? With growing kids? Should we always be going up...UP. UP? UP!

Honesty: Brits don’t talk about money. So...

We downgraded to rid ourselves of choking family debt and live less pressured lives. FRAHM is a beautiful thing to me. So was Vulpine, my previous venture. But behind these startups and many of other founders are years of financial risk and putting on a brave face. You don't want scary in your home life and work life.

Part of our move from London to Somerset was to take that pressure off. But when Vulpine went pop, we had no escape chute. I started another company to build safety - an unusual method!

The pre-orders system at FRAHM works well, so I have a nice safe, slow growing little business. But that also means I'm not earning yet, as we're too small. That's not an appeal for sympathy - it's my choice, a fact. I need to work with these facts. Work and home finances are symbiotic. The equation wasn't adding up.

My wife does earn. Apart from a short period from 1996-97 she always has. That's great. I'm not a chauvinist dick about that. But I do hate not being able to provide. It's in all of us, to want to contribute. 

These feelings can boil over. Much of male suicide and depression can be tracked back to feelings of 'letting people down', worthlessness due to growing debt and the inability to talk about it. I brushed around these feelings. I've certainly felt useless for being selfish enough to want to run businesses that put us into more hardship than took us out.

So why have a big mortgage and always be stretching, when the stretching takes the joy away? All this stuff we have - do we actually have it? Isn't it a few missed pay packets away from nothing at all? The stress. The pressure.

We didn’t want that fear anymore. We're incredibly lucky to have this choice - we know that. We had a house to sell. An incredible luxury in world terms, even British terms:

We moved to a much smaller house and we (so far!) are so much happier. We bought my son the fish we’d promised him. I got myself some Hiut Jeans as a treat. We couldn’t do that before. It's not poverty. It's not terrible hardship. Which makes the debts sillier, in my eyes. We weren't trying to survive, but to thrive. It was the thriving bit we struggled with. We felt like we were surviving when it was an insult to that word's true meaning.

We also did it to make our lives better so we can make FRAHM better. Less pressure = more energy, creativity and passion. 

We gave away or sold almost half our belongs. I sold 5 bikes (I like bikes). I don't miss them one tiny bit. Nor that nice antique thingy or whateveritwas. It was just STUFF. Stuff chained around our necks.

Does that stuff MATTER??

Will that custom singlespeed bike sat in the shed bring me joy? Or will knowing we can pay the mortgage and have Sunday lunch at the pub without it niggling in the back of your mind that you really really shouldn't be, bring greater peace of mind? Freedom for a family of middle class, debt hooked Brits. Not a sob story. Just a silly situation solved.

Searing honesty with ourselves brought these changes. The stuff we had owned us, not us owning it. We had a house full of nice looking shit that make not one gram of difference to our contentment as humans.

This I think, and hope, relates to FRAHM - Our jackets are not cheap. That seems counter intuitive. But we do make useful things that work and last. Not tat to pile up in the wardrobe. I want to live in a world of buying less but having better things, that offer greater long term value. We need to.

If I may, I encourage you to get fewer, better things. Rid yourself of STUFF. if you can. You may have a wonderful gift that can release you, not drag you under.

Nick Hussey Frahm Jacket

2/5 of the Hussey family

P.S: I am scratching Lily, not torturing her. For the record.
P.P.S: That’s the Woodland Worker’s Jacket I’m wearing - can’t help myself.


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