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TSF 43: Harriet Hastings – Biscuiteers

Harriet Hastings is the founder and MD of Biscuiteers. Biscuiteers Baking Company is a gifting retailer specialising in hand-iced biscuits, chocolates and cakes. The business started online in 2007 delivering to both the UK and internationally. 

If I didn’t do what I do…
I would love to be a publisher.  I did work in publishing for 5 years and am still connected through my work as MD of the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 

What’s your favourite waste of time?
Online shopping – I am still totally excited by the life changing effects of being able to manage my life online.  It is transformative particularly if you are in the country.

If you could change a work decision, what would it be and why? 
I would probably have set up my own business earlier.  My husband runs his own business too (Lettice – the London based catering and events company) and for years I thought that one business was enough in one family but actually the younger you can do it and the more energy you have the better!

What is your guilty pleasure?
Sleeping.  I am not an early bird and absolutely love staying in bed and having a nap in afternoons at weekends if I can.

Best weekend activity?
We are usually in Suffolk at weekends and I like to walk and spend time out with my children, usually with their ponies.  It’s about the pleasure of being outside for me after a week in the city.

What are your staple wardrobe brands?
Whistles or Jigsaw are great for work. I like t shirts from J crew and MIH jeans.  I also love Goat and Agnes B.

What’s the biggest challenge your industry faces?
I think working out the balance between on and offline trading and the role of high street retail in the mix is critical.

Next place you want to visit? 
I am just about to go to Lisbon but top of my wish list is Stockholm.  I’ve just watched too much Scandi drama and love the whole design ethic.

Who inspires you and why?
I get most inspired by books and writers that I admire.  I recently read and loved Amory Clay by William Boyd. I pretty much love all his books.  

What are your top tips to get the most from your morning/day?
For me biking to work is great way of waking me up and clearing my head.  I always think it gives me lots of positive energy!

Sheryl Sandberg’s one piece of advice is “Lean In” – if you had one piece of advice to give another woman in her career, what would it be?
Don’t be afraid to try lots of things – there is plenty of time to have more than one career.  Don’t be in too much of a hurry – I think everyone is nowadays.

Who sends you to sleep? 
The book I am reading – I always try to read before I sleep – it helps me to relax and remove myself from my day.

Recently discovered restaurant? 
I went to the Chiltern Firehouse for the first time last week and really enjoyed it

What did you want to be when you grew up?
I think probably a journalist/writer.  My father, grandfather and brothers were all in the same job so it seemed the most likely choice at the time.

If you could meet anyone dead or alive – who would it be and what question would you ask? 
My mother – she died when I was 16.  I’ve thought of quite a few questions over the years since then.

What’s your favourite place in the world and why?
The place I am most at home and most relaxed is Suffolk.  It’s where we spend our weekends and holidays so I associate it with family and friends.  It is also very beautiful and remote from London

What’s your cheapest and simplest beauty tip? 
Always moisturise – I am a great fan of E45

What’s a new skill or hobby you would like to take up and why?
I think it might be a bit late but I would love to kite surf.  It looks incredible.

What are you wearing today and what made you choose it? 
I’m wearing MIH black velvet jeans, Max Mara jacket and tweed Goat coat.  I am on my bike so comfort clothes today.

If you could introduce a new subject/course to the national curriculum, what would it be and why? 
I am sure there should be more focus on IT.  It’s central to the kind of skills that will be needed and yet still feels a bit like a nice to have rather than a core subject.

Has anyone left you star struck? 
I am not easily star struck as used to work in publishing PR and met lots of people.  I do remember spending 2 weeks with Sammy Davies Jnr when he was promoting his autobiography.  He was on tour with Frank Sinatra and Liza Minelli.  I was exposed to the full Hollywood star machine and as a young publicist was suitably overwhelmed. 

Who should feature next as a Three Six Fiver?
I love the theatre and particularly the Donmar and would suggest Josie Rourke the artistic director.

What should people look out for? 
Do check out the Vogue 100 exhibition at the national portrait gallery (for which Biscuiteers have done the Vogue 100 biscuit collection) and our Easter pop up at Habitat in the Kings rd  (Friday 18th – 20th and Thursday 24th – 26th March)