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Thom Barnett
 

One Thing at a Time, as Beautiful as Possible – Living Adventurously 14

Thom Barnett runs Mamnick, a clothing brand passionate about cycling. The tagline is “one thing at a time, as beautiful as possible”. I cajoled Thom out of bed at early o’clock and we cycled out of Sheffield together, nipping down the back alleys and cycle paths he knows so well. Over breakfast I asked the fine arts graduate about life as a fashion designer, loving what you do, and Thom’s love for exploring the hills and lanes of the Peak District.

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SHOW NOTES

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  • “One thing at a time, as beautiful as possible”. Fine products manufactured in the UK and Japan: Mamnick
  • Mamnick on Instagram
  • I’m a fashion designer, but I also make the cups of tea and post my own clothes.
  • Do one thing at a time, as beautiful as possible.
  • If it was all about money I’d have a proper job.
  • I wanted to make a living doing something that I enjoy.
  • When cycling you do more chatting than in other sports, and some of the conversations you have can be fantastic.
  • I managed to make a living from my brand after about six months.
  • A lot of the challenge of turning dream into reality is about confidence
  • Story-telling is really important, but the narrative around this brand just wrote itself and was natural.
  • You don’t want anything to feel phony. You don’t want to have to blag it.
  • Yomping – your own marching pace – less about training and more about riding your bike, being in the moment, and living at your own pace
  • I’ve made life hard for myself at times by being so outspoken
  • Real things, real places, real people resonate more with real people.
  • My brand has basically become an extension of my own life
  • I can ride so much in the Peaks without going on the same road twice, so I don’t feel much desire to load up my bike and cycle round the world. A friend of mine cycled round the world and told me that the Peak District has the best roads.

TRANSCRIPT

Below is the transcription of our conversation. It’s done by AI so is perhaps a wee bit ropey here and there. If these transcripts prove sufficiently useful then I will make the effort to clean then up and make them better. Do let me know if you think it’s worth my time to do that. (Or, better still, do it for me…!). If you’d like to listen as you read along you can do that here:

https://otter.ai/s/8KjD2nB9Q3y8K5xZUsuWrA

Alastair Humphreys
Okay, just so I can get the levels. Can you tell us what’s on the breakfast menu?

Thom Barnett
We’ve had a bagel and a nice cup of tea. No sugar, and olive oil spread some cream cheese in a cafe. Now that Damien Clayton’s how we dropped on, gave him a call because we couldn’t find a cafe that was open and here we are.

Alastair Humphreys
Yeah, I dragged you out of bed. Crazy. I said, We agree to ride together. That’d be nice. And this year, do you mind meeting it? 6am here

Thom Barnett
to be fair you did when we first started chatting, you’d mentioned four o’clock with thrown around and

Alastair Humphreys
I mean, just put free. Okay. But yes, we met at six o’clock road at Sheffield. And out into beautiful countryside now. Thank you for guiding us. Yeah, no problem. But we’re out too early for the cafes.

Thom Barnett
Exactly.

Alastair Humphreys
Okay, sounds good. Let’s go. So I’m with Tom. Or Tom man, Nick is I always think you do other people think he was that?

Thom Barnett
I got cold man. Nick. I think some people who don’t understand that man, Nick is a road that goes up mantle the thing that that’s my surname.

Alastair Humphreys
Yes. Yeah, I can imagine that.

You What was a brief summary of what you do.

Thom Barnett
I guess I just, I’m a designer. First and foremost, I guess. I mean, it seems a bit strange. I mean, I’ve been I’ve described myself as a when when you meet people and sell what you do, and you say, I guess I’m a fashion designer, but I also, you know, post my own clothing. So I’m a you know, I make the cup of tea as well. But I run a brand. First and foremost, I started a brand six years ago and had designed variety different products, from shirts to steel accessories, made in Sheffield steel to cycling kit and caps, socks, about down jackets manufactured all under the ethos of doing one finger to time as beautiful as possible.

Alastair Humphreys
Yeah. And that that was what I want to ask you about. So I love that route and started your website is one thing at a time. As beautiful as possible. Yeah. We better off making when you make loads more money if you made 1000

Thom Barnett
things really quickly, probably.

But I mean, if it were all about making money, then I probably wouldn’t be decided to do kind of what I do. You’d have

Alastair Humphreys
a proper job and have a proper job.

Thom Barnett
Yeah, all that I won’t have a bad proper jobs. I’ve always kind of struggled to. You know, I’ve always been trying to look to cut corners. I remember starting off my original when I got my national insurance number when metal wall had been built near Sheffield shopping centre. Yeah, exactly. And I started selling cookies. In one of the kiosks. My mom said, Oh, you’ve got your national insurance number need to go and get a job now. So they own the first job that I got. I had some friends who work at this cookie parlour, and that’s where I started and then from there I was selling sunglasses in the same complex. Yeah, I’ve stopped kjellson Morrison’s but I’ve always you know, it’s a means to an end in it doing jobs like that is just to get a bit of money.

Alastair Humphreys
And you see with those other jobs you cut corners, what do you mean you just don’t really care and just rush it?

Thom Barnett
Yeah, just not been, I think especially when I worked at Morrisons they had some kind of percentage rate and I think for every three shifts that turned up for the fourth shift I did not turn up for So eventually I got dismissed which seems which I’m not it’s not something that I’m proud of I probably never really went live really been very responsible but there was just definitely some in me that I wanted to make a living off and make it doing stuff I enjoy doing and then I think there’s a quote in there like if you if you make a living if make a job doing something that you love then you’ll never work a day again is it’s

Alastair Humphreys
never worked a day in your life. Yeah, yeah. But now presumably now you’ve got your own brand you’re not cutting corners anymore you know and obsessive

Thom Barnett
and definitely I mean to the point where I’ve got I can get a bit too over it just be the packaging that my products shipped in. Yeah all the finer details as you can imagine in designing men’s wear and also women’s wear as well but accessories shirt and it can it can become very finicky as to how your product is seen and received.

Alastair Humphreys
So why why did you decide to go for the one thing at a time as beautiful as possible? It’s a

Thom Barnett
Buddhist proverb, the most

clever for you? Yeah, much like that conversation we’ve had whilst riding here. I’ve got obviously friends I ride a bike way and I’ve always found when you when you ride the bike with people it does, you spend so much time chatting, maybe a little bit more than any other spot that the sort of the conversations that you have can be quite insightful and fantastic. And before that I before I started the brand, we’re chatting a little bit about the back burner. It’s not a means to an end it’s the end in itself in regards to you know you it’s just it’s like the process of actually doing it. And I think this proverb come up from a front friend of mine, Tony, it said it and others for what a fantastic ethos that’d be such a good tagline for a brand.

Alastair Humphreys
Yeah, well, it is caught my attention when I first when our paths first crossed a few years ago. I love that. And I think it’s just a good approach to life. Isn’t it really good

Thom Barnett
was kinda about been in the moment, I guess, you know, not? Which Australia relax. Yeah, dish disruptions. It’s getting more and more easier to be distracted, isn’t it? I know, we chatted a little bit on the back earlier about the rise in the internet and how it’s slight slowly in golf in people’s lives. But yeah, I think it’s there’s definitely something to be said. And a nice sentiment in the the fox that obviously it resonated with people because I managed to make a living out my brand after maybe, you know, six months, which is quite good. Really. Yeah, I mean, I’ve been quite lucky living in Sheffield and I had a studio from a play drums in a band. So obviously, all my stuff were already in there. So started kinda using that space to store stuff for the brand. So my overheads have been relatively low, but I’ve been lucky enough to subsidise a living off of just selling product and keep putting money back in and just as long as I can pay me around, and it’s fine

Alastair Humphreys
print. And so back in the day, you started to brew up this idea and you studied fine art. So you’re actually quite interested in nice stuff and stuff. It looks nice. And you love cycling. So you started to brew up this idea of hoppy, great type of brands. But anyone who’s ever been out on a bike ride with their mates has had that conversation Hump Day. Yeah, I guess. Yes. So how did you go from turning this nice Daydream into the actual reality?

Thom Barnett
I think a lot of it will confidence. I mean,

I was working with vintage cloud and while I was doing my fine art degree, and I’ve always kind of liked clothing and fabrics and stuff like that. And as time kind of went on, I’ve met people who either run factories whether it just be like CMT place in Rob room, or, you know, someone who makes stuff was still being quite inquisitive, and always asking kind of questions probably much like yourself, you know, you don’t mind just opening a conversation with a stranger. I found myself in a position where I met someone who were running a factory and I said, Oh, if I designed to share it with your manufacturer, and they were like, Yeah, no problem and then twisted his arm. So I got if i if i manufacture this ship, would you mind obviously, you know, costing it up, and I said, Oh, if I if I make it, I promise you that I will sell it and then I can just give you money back so he kind of bankrolled the first he didn’t say our initiation I only five grammes like we did this and I sold the shirts and he got his money back and then when the profit when it turned to profit then I started just putting it into other products but i did i think the the initial getting over that barrier of like no confidence crisis like I’m gambling my own money once I’ve done it and I saw that I had a reception and then I had a brand I were like wow I can I can manufacture anything now so then it just gave me that confidence to go to other factories and see how they worked and then persuading them to manufacture stuff for me and because most of these places were within cycling distance really I think certainly this like narrative around the brand just kind of wrote itself so as we were saying before about our storytelling is really important. Certainly by this storey was evolving and our really having to like make up or look for it. It would just kinda already rolling out in front of me and so therefore it is real.

Alastair Humphreys
Yeah, exactly. So I find that most things you try and do in life this barriers that stop you and often they’re either time or money you mostly go over the money issue by that guy. Yeah, helping and giving giving you a leg up. Yeah. But in terms of the other side of barriers is all the stuff inside our head that stops us so what are the barriers Did you have that were stopping you mentioned confidence was there anything else that was stopping you taking this leap to do to try and make something out of your the fun idea of starting a brand

Thom Barnett
Not really I think that one thing that crossed your mind is you don’t want it anything to appear phone? You want it you know that there I’ve always thought that things need to feel authentic and as I just said about the storey kinda just becoming real and not having to like blog it and writing we’re club and listening to storeys there was sometimes I got a bit worried that you know, you’re listening to other people’s knowledge and then you’re kind of turning it into a way in which you’re in it, you know, is it monopolised by the toner sighs that’s the way Yeah. So kind of there was this is still such strange room and I you know, I’ve got friends who have they’ve done the round the world bike trips. But yeah, I’ve like listen to their storeys process them and, you know, come up with this idea young pin, for instance. And there’s still some of that it’s important for me still now to be doing the trips and you know, doing a bit of lightweight touring and doing the but not just I do love it. But also it’s important for me because I want it to feel authentic still. And that’s, that’s good. That’s got to be like the the way forward really for the brand from now on. I mean, I don’t if I’m dropping myself in regards to that movie, it’ll get to a point where so I might want to buy the brand and then they might employ me to just continue to ride my bike and do the social media output. But that is one thing. That’s a bit of a still a bit of a hurdle in Madison. How do you get to that next step when you tied yourself so closely to it? Yeah.

Alastair Humphreys
Okay. And then yeah, I guess there are so many other steps as your brand you might either choose to grow it or choose to not grow it who knows but over the last six almost seven years now what if you made any massive mistakes?

Unknown Speaker
And

Thom Barnett
I think there’s been I’ve done stuff where of that I don’t have any regrets but I’ve made life relatively harder for myself at times by just been so outspoken like we alluded to earlier when I the channel for thing for thought a big thing politics

Alastair Humphreys
and vibrant. Yeah,

Thom Barnett
I thought that there’s baby like a good?

Well, I see everything is a kind of marketing opportunity when you got a marketing budget. So for Channel thoughts being touched, and you want to do this, how we’re just like, Oh, yeah, that’s fantastic. And you, you go in there blind in the thinking that everybody’s got this, looking at the world in this good faith, rather than trying to see bad everybody think, you know, I can have this conversation about Brexit, and I’ll be fine. But obviously, I didn’t get anything has been offered back into that. That weren’t exactly great. But

Alastair Humphreys
you went on a Brexit documentary which kind of spam what you’re saying not quite how you wanted? Yeah. Because you’ve been trolled quite a lot. And, and that your Instagram account shutdown,

Thom Barnett
which ironically, again, it you know, I’ve always seen it is there’s a lot of people now that know what the brand is, and you can’t I don’t want to run that appeals to everybody. So I wouldn’t change anything. But when I look back, I do think all you know, if there are people who have been put off by, you know, fact that I voted Brexit I’ll be such a shame because, you know, there’s there’s so many narratives that can be kind of taken out of context. Nowadays, I thought I probably would be easier if I’d never have a mixed, you know, make politic prints, not so much a regret. Just the experience. Yeah, just a bit of experience.

Alastair Humphreys
One of the one of the things I’ve always really liked about memory, Nick, is the connexion the very clear connexion you have with cone? Yeah. And one of the reasons that I’m cycling around Yorkshire for a month is because the idea of home interests me, so what does home mean to you?

Thom Barnett
Well, that’s a tough one in it, because I’m from Robert originally, so that’s what I would describe as been my help, but most of their kinda ride and and you know, the things that I’m familiar with on the day to day, which is one, which is probably one way or, you know, understanding what home is, would be you know, I riding my bike in the peak districts and stuff like that, which is this summer. I don’t know if those two things match up. But I definitely feel our town when I’m, you know, riding roads and stuff that I that I know, relatively well, and because of the topology of the Peak District, I do think that is a fantastic place to ride your bike.

Maybe I’m going off on a bit of a time.

Alastair Humphreys
No, no, no, not at all. It’s interesting that you say

Unknown Speaker
how you from rather than but now you,

Alastair Humphreys
Sheffield and Pete districts and you are almost labelling them as different things? Yeah. Was there about 10 miles? Yeah, exactly. Yeah. So so your notion of homelessness of hyper localised, you grew up you’re born around here. You grew up around here you have you always lived around here. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. So and and it’s quite clear that you took taken quite a lot of inspiration from home. Was that was that a conscious building a brand decision? Or is it just this is who I but I won’t spoon feed EYYY is the brand so much about home?

Thom Barnett
I just again, it’s like linking back to that whole idea of it feeling authentic. You know, there are people who they can start a brand and you know, for instance, their logo, mine, it looks like a road and then it’s like, Oh, what’s this route is it’s not a ravaged, we’ve made it up and I’ve always just felt as though real, real people real things, real places. Just resonate more with real people, I guess so that I’ve done it consciously, but it’s kind of subconscious. It’s subconscious at the same time. And please, really tell me about

Alastair Humphreys
your granddad.

Thom Barnett
Yeah, Eric. Yeah, yeah, he’s passed away now but he works in Sheffield steel industry like his entire life, right?

Alastair Humphreys
And so what connexion is granddad Eric from the steel industry got to do with this trendy hipster brand.

Thom Barnett
Well, I’ll do it a steel collection with some of your listeners might already have seen like made in Sheffield. And I just wanted to say this again. When you talked about how me living in Sheffield. Again, it’s an authentic thing. I’ve got the family link there with my granddad working in the steel industry for over 45 years. So I started designing bits and then Sheffield stainless steel and found a manufacturer and kinda told him while we’re doing so I had a money clip manufactured first and then I did a tie slide. And then I realised I’m kind of making stuff from them. pieces of sheet stainless steel and so then I will I’ll what else can I make so I’ve done like a trouser clip for commute like a cycling commuter. I guess I do the card older, which is probably one of my favourite products really, which is that’s all met from a bent piece of steel and he holds a few cards. And if you’re all you know, so we can push them in.

Alastair Humphreys
What did you granddad think of you doing this? In order to Castaway? Oh, really?

Thom Barnett
Yeah, totally. I mean, it’s such a shame that I never really got to say to him, I will fight Look how you’ve kind of influenced me.

But yeah, in many respects is it’s a nice thing to just always like to be able to reference my granddad every time I work with steel, and it was living in Sheffield as well. The sandwich said about Sheffield steel. Now they’ve got the women of steel statue, which I think you maybe took about an hour to do outside of town or someone else should have done.

Alastair Humphreys
Yeah. And yeah, I think it’s brilliant. And what do you think about stronger,

Thom Barnett
stronger cyclists? I used to use driver but then I just got to a point where it felt as though it was just becoming too heavy. It’s just me being overly sensitive, but become a bit like to politicised. If, you know, you’d be trying to organise bike ride to people in the block or not out today. And then you know, can you start over and then going out and on a bike ride and it got to the point where like, I started to play a little bit weird. Like it stopped playing, we’re at a bit that kind of stuff. And then also going back to the one thing at a time as beautiful as possible. I felt as though it just become a bit of a distraction because I weren’t trained in a search but some of us like that by using Straub unless you unless you’ve got the mindset to just you just I don’t know why you’d be wanting to track your and really can be can basically like work out on how long you’ve been at our but I just felt like it just become a big distraction like where I found myself pressing on open L and I didn’t really understand why our writing so hard to the point where we’re going to like blow up probably later on. Well, I’m just trying to beat my old times, but they’ll times didn’t actually mean anything because I’m not training for anything here. Because I’m not racing. So yeah, just out enjoying it. And exactly. And then they all like young pin, your own marching pace, which has become a bit of a sub brand. By that was probably a reflection to when I suddenly got that I can’t get confirmed in my head that I’m not anti Strother as such, but one thing led to another or one thing reflects the other where it’s like it’s less about training and been a pro or you know, trying to imitate the pros. It’s just more about riding your bike and being in the moment really and doing things at your own pace.

Alastair Humphreys
Yeah, that that was the sense that was I asked you about Starbucks, I got that sense of

you, you kind of overlapping a couple of worlds. You make this really nice gear, which I’m sure lots of straw for types were but yeah, so you’re also into this young thing world of just being out there. enjoying it.

So I back in my glory days, I cycled around the world. Yeah.

And now I’m up here trying to really pay attention to local. Yeah. Today we’ve been nattering away about these we saw a fly fisherman just out chef South Sheffield went through an old industrial tunnel and I’m really enjoying this paying attention to local so what’s your take on would you would you like to psych around the world or do you find you can get satisfaction from the Peak District?

Thom Barnett
Well yeah, for me personally, I suppose it’s a difficult one because there’s my brand has grown and so you know, even my garments I do shirts that are named after different paint district villagers which I’m not I’m not sure if you knew that but yeah, so I’m so like close to the the Peak District in regards to our markets and myself and is that like my brand has basically become an extension in their life. Yes, that is the same and that the great The great thing about the Peak District is I could do you know, I could ride every day and not repeat the same road because of the network so the router so I don’t have a massive desire to buy fully load Mubarak and you know try and ride route world as well as obviously wanting to fulfil orders there is something that’s going on where the more I’d ride in the peak the more if I stopped in sacrifice or then it feeds into marketing and you know I can I could get up in the morning and do for our I’ve come out and still like reply to me emails post whatever has been need to post in and you know, speak to suppliers. So it’s like building a kinda lifestyle around the P district but at the same time if I do ever want to go I’d say if I want to do you know free week trading in Alps that point is probably become a little bit more of a logistical nightmare from abroad. I mean, I’d love to see more world on my bike but right now I’m in a good friend of mine who cycled around the world twice he said said best roads to ride in and he said OP streets because the you know the network around it just completely unravelled so it’s almost like I’ve took on his experience in a way which is a bit fell Now suppose but you know if he’s written around the world and seen a lot of it and then gone paint districts where it’s out, then you can’t you know, isn’t I’m not going to complain about that.

Alastair Humphreys
Yeah, absolutely not. I think you’ve got a great position where you’re, you’ve managed to get yourself to a place where where you combine the things that you love, riding bikes, design, fashion clothes, do the things that you love that you’d probably be doing anyway. Yeah, figure out a way to get paid for them. Plus, you’re out riding your bike and beautiful part of the world. So thank you sounds pretty sorted. Plus, you have a good network of friends lilium random places who when the cafes are close, we can gatecrash drink and eat their bagels. So thank you so much, Tom for showing me that lovely ride out of a out of Sheffield. Thank you for your bubble hat. And it’s been good company. So thanks very much.

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One Thing at a Time, as Beautiful as Possible – Living Adventurously 14 Thom Barnett runs Mamnick, a clothing brand passionate about cycling. The tagline is “one thing at a time, as beautiful as possible”. I cajoled Thom out of bed at early o’clock and we cycled out of Sheffield together, nipping down […]...
 

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