When Worlds Collide

Whistles is launching a jewellery collaboration with antique-inspired brand Lulu Frost. Now, whilst that may not seem like the usual sort of thing that I write about here on my blog, it is. Let me explain…

A few years ago I read Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point. The book, (if you haven’t read it) is about how “social epidemics” occur, the way “that ideas and behaviour and messages and products sometimes behave just like outbreaks of infectious disease.” One factor in a social epidemic occurring is what Gladwell calls the “The Law of the Few” which states “the success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts.” My social gift is what he calls being a “connector“. I know people. Lots of people. My friends often comment on how many people I know, how often I bump into people in the street (including in other countries), how many “friends” I have on Facebook, etc. I don’t do it on purpose, and I don’t do it with any specific intention, but you could say I collect people. I’ve been collecting people for years (since well before Facebook). I keep in touch with old friends when most people would let those relationships fall by the wayside. If you’re a friend, you’re a friend for life.

When I was a teenager I lived in New York with my aunt, uncle and cousins. Across the road from us lived my cousin Sandra’s friend, Lisa, and over the course of living there, Lisa and I became friends too.

Flash forward 14 or so years. Lisa and I grew up. We’d see each other from time to time when I visited my NY family or if Lisa visited London for work. Lisa started her own business, Lulu Frost, and a few years later I started Airborne Circus. (Lisa actually did the very first concept sketches for the Airborne Circus logo, whilst sitting in a cafe with Sandra and me just off Brick Lane.)

As you probably know, I teach trapeze. A few months ago I discovered that one of my students is Whistles CEO Jane Shepherdson. (Obviously I knew she was my student. I didn’t know she was Whistles CEO!) The conversation went something like this:

Student: Did you know that Jane runs Whistles?
Me: What’s Whistles?
Student: You know, the women’s clothing store.
Me: Er…
Student: How don’t you know Whistles?!
Me: Do they sell men’s clothes?
Student: No.
Me: I’m a guy, I don’t have a girlfriend and I don’t like cross-dressing. Why should I know a women’s clothing store?!

Since then I’ve seen Whistles all over London and at some point I asked Jane if she knew of Lulu Frost (which she did) and offered to make an introduction. This week sees the fulfilment of that introduction and sees me become “perhaps the most famous trapeze teacher in the fashion world.” I can’t imagine there are many of us but thanks for the sentiment nonetheless, Jane!

People misunderstand the six degrees of separation. It’s not just that everybody is connected to everybody else within six degrees but rather that everybody is connected via someone like me: a connector.

You can see some of the Lulu Frost for Whistles line and read a bit more about it in The Independent’s article from last Thursday.