Our Kinds Founder: Hamish Cockburn

Hamish is the definition of calm, cool, and collected and the rock of Our Kinds. He's unflappable (and trust me, we've tested). Here are his thoughts on life, business, and the journey so far.

Felicity Smith

January 19, 2022

What have you learnt over the course of your career? What are your most valuable lessons?

I think my real starting point is that I was fortunate enough to travel overseas on a scholarship— because I couldn’t have done otherwise. I studied design in Finland which was foundational for me. I learnt that what Finnish design does beautifully is it makes you understand the nature of yourself, and the nature around you.

I came away from that experience and decided that I needed to see my own country. I purposefully chose a motorbike because I thought that was an honest and tactile way to see Australia. To experience and smell and touch and truly feel the country.

I arrived in Perth after spending a year or so on the road and within six weeks had started my own design company here.

What has been your favourite moment in business so far?

So, I've had quite a few different brands in the design industry, and all have them have brought me to 31 degrees (Hamish's current design company). We're selling across Melbourne and Brisbane so that's good measure of achievement. But all of those previous paths put me onto a really interesting and ongoing journey of discovery. It's led me to a place where I can confidently create beautiful things and watch and learn from how people respond to them.

Because it does take learning, it takes lessons, it takes time. I think when you look at designers, they often don't mature until they are in their 40, 50's, 60's. With a lot of architects, they do their best work in their 60's. So, for me, it's always been about the long burn. My perspective is always changing and I enjoy that, so there's no rush.

Also—getting to encourage that entrepreneurial side. I've had a café for 5 years now (The Corner Store) and that was born out of quite a pragmatic approach where we were doing a lot of business in cafes and having a lot of customer meetings and realised that building a café is majorly about building a community and giving people a place to go.

It's not all about a lump of steel or glass or whatever, the reason why a design is a good design, whether it works or not is all about if it celebrates the human interaction happening around it. That's always the highlight, arriving at a point where you've imagined a space and then on a day-to-day basis, you're able to watch that design flourish.

What is important when it comes to business values and Our Kinds?

That everyone is included, that no one is excluded. You know, that's represented in the way that we're rolling out, it's represented in the way that we talk to each other and allow things to happen around us. It's inclusivity, which I think is the key to what we're doing.

When Karen (Our Kinds Co-Founder) and I were discussing what the name of this entity should be, we landed on Our Kinds and it was the obvious choice. When we started it was incredible how we're looking at the world every day and we were finding our kinds of people, as well as art, culture, all this other beautiful stuff.

One thing that I haven't quite discussed yet is youth culture. I think our societies youth is teaching us about a lot of issues—you know, gender, race, background, education, all these things. I think that, you know, we’ve got to run to keep up with the beautiful kids around us, because their perspective is so much different to our perspective. And from where I stand, you know, we've got a bit of work to do to catch up. We need to be on the same page and to be able to talk to each other with respect and honesty. So that respect and willingness to learn is another big values driver with Our Kinds.

What has the Our Kinds journey been like so far?

I’m seeing this beautiful journey emerging out of what we started. I feel like we’ve come so far but we're still at the at the beginning in a way. There's just an amazing race to be run. There's such an urgent sense of purpose behind what we're doing, but very much looking forward to what that will involve.

We’ve gotten to design and collaborate with so many people. We’re creating this movement in conjunction with Nuriah—who's a First Nations artist, photographer, and just amazing person (Nuriah is the Our Kinds First Nations Advisor) we’re learning from her, and we get to watch these cultures collide in such a positive way. It's an amazing opportunity for us to work together and celebrate these things, it's so beautiful to me, you know, I don't even have a word for that experience.

We’ve had a vision where we’ve already gotten to set new habits in motion and create that wave of change, but we certainly won't stop there, we look for the next the challenge or the next thing that we can do in a positive sense. That's exciting to me.

There’s beauty and elegance around what's happening now. And I feel so grateful to be with people that are surrounding us all and just have the chance to do that. Watching all these things emerge is incredible actually.

We’re building community so we can stamp out single use culture. Would you like to be a part of the movement?