Everything Blacker than Everything Else

This is an advert. It’s also kind of where I’m at. It’s not marketing disguised as a mental health campaign, or a cry for help.

I’ve always worked for myself. Never had a job working for somebody else. Often these jobs have involved the creative arts: writing, making videos, performing. Telling stories, entertaining people, making stuff happen. I’m also in the business of selling clothes to you.

Running a business with just two people that turns over £1.5 million quid and rising is really great. We sell stuff that we believe is good, we make a profit and nowadays we even pay ourselves quite well. It’s also fucking stressful.

I’ve always thought that people on social media are dicks. I should know because I’m one of them.

Once when I worked as a mountain bike skills instructor and guide, I made a wacky film called The Chop. It was pretty surreal with taxidermy, haircuts, cannibalism and a bit of mountain bike riding. It was fun, celebratory, satirical of the culture and it didn’t try to explain itself.

Some people loved it and others thought it was shit. One bloke, on a social media thread, said it was, “self obsessed rubbish in my opinion, should have been called the Vain Vagrant”. He had a point, but I still thought he was a prick, hiding behind his anonymous user name.

I decided to make something out of his comment. My next film was called The Vain Vagrant and started out with me having a massive tattoo on the back of my calf which include those very words. Thanks for the idea ‘pal’.

Kicking against the pricks continues here at HebTroCo and we often encourage storms in sweary tea cups.

It can be fun and it helps to sell stuff. When people have a go at us on social media for our pricing structure, or because our targeted ads have penetrated their precious social feeds, we’re not afraid to answer back. It’s fun until it’s not.

This year we decided to do less of this because the bile was rising into the back of our throats and to be honest it was starting to get to us. We also decided to get fit again after several years of pretty sedentary office work. 

I decided to start running. All you need is a pair of shoes and we have hundreds of miles of footpaths over the moors and in the woods where we live. I like the release from running through the natural world. I like to feel my heart pumping and my lungs filling and emptying. I let off steam, feel grounded and feel good in my body and my mind. It’s not for everyone; the wind, rain, cold and vomit inducing hills are savage and you’ve got to like, or at least put up with, the self abuse part of the whole running in nature thing.

All the stresses of success, lockdown, ageing, moving house and some things that I’m not telling you about, because it’s none of your business, started to overwhelm me a bit. Running helped. Getting some other people in to take the pressure off and help with HebTroCo is helping. Making some lifestyle changes also started to have a positive effect. The structure of going to work helps.

Being a drama queen I could see the opportunity to make a film out of all this lovely messy business. Getting into the creative process, building some tension, allowing some reflection, getting some relief. Breathe in breathe out.

This is where I’m at. It’s an advert. It’s whatever you want it to be and I hope you’ll end up buying some black denim clothes after enjoying our film.

None of this would be possible without the brilliant filming, directing and editing skills of Tim ‘white no sugar’ Royle who made the film. 

Ed Oxley

The mood is black

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