Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer

Ep. 57 – Simon Tefula Joseph – Hope, Empowerment, Opportunity

In episode 57, Mich Bondesio chats to Simon Tefula Joseph of TRENDiPEOPLE about empowering life philosophies, positive problem-solving mindsets, sustainable personalised and inclusive fashion, plus more.

Links referenced in the show (see transcript below).

Transcript – Episode 57

This is episode 57, the third of season nine.

Mich Bondesio:

Today, I’m chatting with the author and entrepreneur Simon Tefula Joseph about empowering life philosophies, positive problem-solving mindsets and sustainable personalised fashion. Plus lots more.

But first, a quick update about the Cadence Coaching Programme. In earlier episodes of the season, I spoken about how this program is going live in April. But I’ll be sharing the official launch link at the end of this week, which is the end of February. If you want to find out more in the meantime, head to creatingcadence.co/cadence- coaching, and I’ll share the link to that in the show notes, but the official launch link will be going live later this week.

Now onto the interview section of this episode.

Simon Tefula Joseph is a fashion tech entrepreneur, author, and mental wellbeing advocate. He currently runs a startup called TRENDiPEOPLE, a mobile platform that connects fashion makers, such as tailors dressmakers shoemakers, accessory makers, and personal stylists, to shoppers looking for personalised fashion.

Simon and his team believe in empowering people from disadvantaged groups, such as those with mobility challenges, physical disabilities, special needs, and unique body sizes and shapes to access fashion that meets their unique needs.

Simon is also a mental wellbeing advocate who believes in creating tools and resources that empower people to be the best versions of themselves. He is the author of a book entitled “52 Messages: Motivation, inspiration and encouragement that drives action”.

This was such a lovely, uplifting conversation with Simon, and we talked about everything from daily practices for supporting mental health; to creating a life philosophy that defines how you navigate the world; to the important role that mindset plays in helping us to learn from challenges. At the end of the episode, I also pull out a few key points raised by Simon during our chat, which I think are worth a second look. So stick around for those, too.

Now if you’re ready, let’s dive in.

So welcome Simon. It’s lovely to have you on the show.

Simon Tefula Joseph:

[00:02:47] Thank you so much for having me on your show.

Mich Bondesio:

[00:02:50] Simon, a bit of background for my audience. We haven’t spoken in a really long while, but we first met, I think it was in 2016 or 2017, when we were grouped together along with other candidates as part of one of the online cohorts for Y Combinator’s Startup School. And you were just starting out on your journey with TRENDiPEOPLE.

I was just starting out on my journey with my platform Growth Sessions, which has subsequently become Creating Cadence. So catch us up on things. What’s your current life and work situation? Where are you based and what are you up to now?

Simon Tefula Joseph:

[00:03:21] Wow, that sounds like many, many moons ago. So I currently still based in London.

I took some time off, in 2019 incidentally, just before the pandemic because as you know, the hustle culture in the startup world can be really intense. So I went through this period of two and a half years of trying to fundraise, trying to get the startup off the ground, and I was getting so many rejections and it really took a mental toll on my mental health.

And so I thought, you know, lemme take some time off and. Just relax, because at at that point I was just about to raise half a million pounds in 2019. And then that fell through and then at that point I just thought, you know what? This whole venture capital hustle, you know hustle world, is not really for me?

Lemme take some time off. Take a step back, reflect on what I need to do. So essentially what I did, I took some time off. Then obviously the pandemic happens. I am in a position where I recently restarted the company again and brought things up. So when I took time off, reflected on my mental health, got better, published a book on mental wellbeing, and now,well, at the beginning of 2022, I relaunched TRENDiPEOPLE again.

So just to give a bit of context, I mean, we’ll probably have an opportunity to speak about that. But at this particular moment in time, I’m based in London running TRENDiPEOPLE, which is a tech startup for fashion, and kind of moving things along slowly but surely.

Mich Bondesio:

[00:04:47] Wow. Well, thanks for sharing that with us, and really interesting to hear your journey because entrepreneurial burnout is a thing. it affects, you know, business owners and startups in a different way to employees, for example, that you have very specific, parameters that can impact on mental health and wellness when working in the field that you were in.

So, I’m sorry to hear that you went through that. But some good things came from it, from the sound of it, and you found a new way to develop this business idea and, you know, help other people, which you’re doing, which is fantastic.

So you’ve spoken a little bit about the challenges of where you were, but based on where you are at this moment,

how is your life and work supporting you or challenging you? You know, what are the upsides of where you’re at at the moment, as well as the learning moments that you’re experiencing at this point?

Simon Tefula Joseph:

[00:05:38] Absolutely. So when I took a step back, I had a chance to reflect on where I would really want to see myself. in the next three to five years, and I realised that the most important thing for me is to look after my mental wellbeing and my health, right? And that really, really helped me kind of refocus. What I did, is to sort of come up with what is my own personal mission statement as an individual and. As companies have mission statements for, for their organisations, I came up with one, which is, to be an enduring source of hope, empowerment, and opportunity to the world.

So at that point, I decided that whatever that I choose to do has been involved, empowering people, has been involved. You know, providing some sort of opportunity and hope for people. And, you know, whether that’s a job, whether that’s a startup, it has to involve that. And so in terms of what that has allowed me to do is to put some bits in place, in order for me to sort of manage my wellbeing and manage my work life.

One of the most important things I put in place was to focus on delegation and collaboration. because the thing is, as an entrepreneur, you, well, I was the Chief Everything Officer, right? I was the jack-of-all-trades. I was doing everything. I was the chief fundraising officer, chief marketing officer, chief, everything.

And, and that really led to a burnout. So, getting a team together and bringing some people on board allowed me, has continuously allowed me to delegate, and get some of that weight off myself. And you know, in that sense as well, being able to collaborate with lots of other people as well has enabled me to get that done.

And I’ve sort of come out of that mentality. There’s been the mind shift mentality of, as opposed to going hustle, hustle hard, you know, that hustle culture. I’m sort of like, you know, slow motion is better than no motion. Just taking things slow at a time. I’m doing what I can. With what I have, starting from where I am. I’m not really going by the metrics of this, you know, this insane startup world out there.

So that is essentially how I am positioning myself at this particular moment in time.

Mich Bondesio:

[00:07:48] That’s fantastic. I love that idea of slow motion that you were speaking about and this idea of purpose that’s very much central to the concepts that I advocate for as well around creating cadence. When you have a sense of purpose, it motivates you in a totally different way, and very often, for example, my purpose is freedom.

It’s not money, you know? And that means that Everything I do, how I design my business, how I go about my day is structured in a way that helps me achieve things based on my sense of purpose. I love the idea of also having this optimistic outlook that you talk about, because our situation is our state of mind, and if we have a negative outlook on the world, that’s gonna impact on our ability to take action or not.

So Fantastic. I love that. Let’s talk a little bit more about daily habits and routines. You know, one of the things you focus on obviously is your mental health advocacy. What do you do on a daily or weekly or monthly basis to support your mind and your mental health and your wellbeing.

Simon Tefula Joseph:

[00:08:44] Yeah, so when I took some time out, I basically came up with some routines and habits that enabled me to get through this. One of the things I’m really grateful for is about 11 years ago I became vegan. So basically in terms of my diet of consumption, I. Everything from whatever I watch, listen to read, and obviously what I eat as well.

So it’s a holistic approach in the sense that, you know, the news can be really depressing. Obviously, I can’t ignore what’s going on in the world. I, you know, occasionally glance to have a look and remain informed about what’s going on. But I consciously avoid negative stories that are going to drain my energy.

Even movies that are sad or traumatic, like really, I’m very, very conscious about my energy and so, you know, my diet of consumption, I, I barely watch television and, and any of that crazy news cycle that goes on that’s really depressing. what I listen to, what I read, I listen to more jazz and mellow and chilled-out music and.

I just tend to read a lot more, stuff that is a lot more chilled. I love stand-up comedy as well. And as I mentioned, I’m vegan, so that helps me. I’m East African, we’re natural born long-distance runners. That’s what I’d like to think. So I run quite a lot. so that kind of helps me, you know, that runners have this thing called runner’s high, right?

When you get to that point where everything is in motion and you adjust at that, right? It, it, it feels amazing. So this is some of the bits I do, and I’m also highly, highly spiritual. I’m, I’m Christian, so I pray, and meditation is really, really important for me as well. So this are some of the things I’ve sort of been able to put in, in, in place to help me on a day-to-day week-to-week basis, and this whole ability of remaining grateful right every single day and journaling and that, that really helps me as well.

Mich Bondesio:

[00:10:28] Hmm. Sounds like you have a robust routine and practices in place to support you. And they’re varied. You know, it’s not just about the exercise or the meditation that you cover every aspect, and that’s the important thing, is to have a toolkit of things that we can reach for, because in different situations, something else might be needed or apply. So thank you for sharing that. So, this show is all about ways to create more cadence in our days and build more momentum in our life, but what does the concept of cadence mean for you personally?

Simon Tefula Joseph:

[00:10:58] Yeah, so personally, for me, it’s really all about, so forgive me ’cause obviously I’ll, I’ll plug my book a little bit. So my book, 52 Messages, the flagship message in the book really is, is two things. One of the things that, When I was going through a really difficult time, I always used to hear people say “everything that happens happens for a reason”.

But you know, that really used to frustrate me when I was going through a really tough time, because I used to think, well, what is this reason? Where is the sense in this? I’m applying to a hundred VC firms and no one is giving me the funding that I need to execute this thing. And then I realized that, as opposed to saying everything happens for a reason, my take on it is everything does not happen for a reason, but it happens for a lesson.

So if you think about all the things that you have been through, whether it’s been your fault or not, whether it’s been positive or negative, my take on it is always, what can the situation teach me? What can I learn from this? Because collectively all those lessons give you the competitive edge, right? So they say that in life, you know, nothing teaches you more than, heartbreak, an empty stomach, empty pockets.

So those really difficult scenarios are the ones that really teach you. So for me, being in a constant mode of. of learning and reflection and really spinning the negatives or the losses into lessons, really, I believe for me, really helps me take, that to the next level. And this is what I’m trying to embed into my team at TRENDiPEOPLE and being like, right, okay, if we have built this functionality of we have built this app this way and it’s not working.

It’s not a failure, but what can we learn from this? What, you know, what lesson can we take from this to help us, give us that competitive age to go to the next level? And I believe that that really helps me. And the other thing is, what I’ll touch upon really shortly is as well,I believe that being yourself is the highest form of honesty.

So in the past I always used to feel that I had to please somebody. I had to, whether you’re pitching to an investor, you’ve gotta please somebody. You’ve gotta try and put on this front of somebody that you don’t really, you know, so my whole thing is if I can’t do something that does not allow me to truly be myself, my whole, authentic self, then I do not want to be involved.

So, I try to detach myself from people, from environments, from surroundings that do not allow me to be myself and do not give me the opportunity to learn essentially. So that is essentially what Cadence means to me on a personal level.

Mich Bondesio:

[00:13:28] I love that. Thank you for sharing. Like you, I believe failure is feedback not to be seen as failure. It’s all a lesson. For me, as well, learning is a key driver in how I move forward in life. It helps us to build momentum to constantly be iterating and pivoting. I mean, that’s part of design thinking, that’s part of creative thinking.

I often say to people who I’m coaching, they may not be working in a creative industry, so they don’t think they’re creative. But we are all creative thinkers ’cause we all have to be problem solvers and we can only solve problems when we’re prepared to learn from the lessons. So I love what you said there.

Thank you so much. Now, your TRENDiPEOPLE app has a strong focus on promoting diversity and inclusion, which is fantastic to hear. So I’m interested to know, how does Cadence apply in the work that you do to support and help your clients and customers? How does what you do, and what your team do, at TRENDiPEOPLE, and the app itself, help them to maintain momentum in their life and business?

Simon Tefula Joseph:

[00:14:25] Absolutely. So just to take a step back and give you a bit of a background. So, I used to be a men’s stylist, before, I essentially used to work in a bank and I apparently used to dress really well. So one of my bosses came up to me one day saying, Hey, I’ve got this event I need to go to, I need somebody to help me, dress up for this occasion”.

And in a joking way, I was like, look, I can help put some bits together for you, but you’ve gotta pay me. And, and he offered to pay me. And so I quote unquote, “became a men’s personal stylist”. But prior to that, I was really overweight. some years ago I became, before I became vegan, I was really overweight.

And, I went through this process of, trying to get my health in order. So I lost quite one. So when I became vegan, I lost quite a lot of weight, and that meant essentially that, Lot, lots of the clothes that I had just didn’t fit me anymore. one of my best friends, his mom just happened to be a retired tailor, and she said to me, Hey, listen, why don’t you bring over some of the clothes that you, that don’t fit you anymore, and I’ll, I’ll patch them out for you.

So when I did that, she was able to patch everything up for me. but one of the things she was able to do for me as well, she said that, I can actually make you anything. So I love really bright coloured trousers, just really bright coloured anything. And most of the things I like are not really sold in high-Street stores in the UK.

She’d say, look, if you can buy the fabric and bring me another pair of trousers that fits you, that is the perfect fit, I’ll make you the exact same thing. And so this is when I had that extra light bulb moment where I realized that there was an opportunity.

So there are individuals that have the skills in fashion, that may be personal stylists, there may be tailors, the dressmakers, maybe they make accessories, but they don’t own a fancy shop, they don’t own a big brand. And then on the other hand, there are individuals that have, you know, unique body sizes and shapes.

Now, I believe, again, going back to my personal life mission, which is, you know, I believe in being an enduring source of hope, empowerment, and opportunity to the world. And I believe in empowering people and simplifying things. So my thing was how can I empower people in the fashion world? How can I empower shoppers and how can I empower the world in general?

And so the focus with TRENDiPEOPLE really is, we believe in empowering, people with skills in fashion, whether you’re tailor, personal stylist, a shopper, to, sell and access, you know, a, a larger market. and then I believe in empowering shoppers and especially, you know, shoppers with, special needs.

So people with, you know, unique body sizes and shapes and, you know, physical challenges and disabilities and mobility challenges. because. I didn’t know this, but the majority of us, pretty much have a unique body size and shape. One of the things I used to struggle with is I used to struggle with finding shirts that fit me.

Apparently I’ve got lanky long arms. I mean, like nothing really fits right?

So, until I was measured, I didn’t realise this was a problem and I used to struggle. So my thing was why not create a platform that brings together all these individuals in one setting? ‘Cause at TRENDiPEOPLE, we believe in empowering people. We believe everyone is unique and beautiful in their own way. And there’s a huge section of the market, people with physical disabilities, with special needs, with mobility challenges. Why not create a marketplace for them and then create a digitalised, experience where they can find and buy custom-made personalised fashion and accessories.

And that really helps. And even in my journey of being a personal stylist, one thing that I realised was that, Being a personal stylist is not about putting new clothes on a person. It’s about putting a new person in clothes. It’s essentially a self-confidence building exercise, right? It’s empowering somebody to feel good about themselves, you know?

And that, for me, really, really gives me a huge buzz. And so, bringing this back to your question, this is how we as an organisation at TRENDiPEOPLE are empowering shoppers, we’re empowering, fashion professionals and the world in general, ’cause, you know, fast fashion is a huge problem, contributes to lots of pollution.

So, you know, creating a well-rounded holistic approach to, sustainable personalised fashion is what we’re really trying to accomplish here. And obviously bringing some diversity and colour to it as well. So that’s what we do.

Mich Bondesio:

[00:18:29] That is fantastic. There’s definitely a need for it. I love the sustainable element of it as well. The triple bottom line, taking into account not just profit, but people and planet, is so essential to the way we do business nowadays. Definitely a way to help keep maintaining momentum, but in a sustainable way.

So thanks for sharing that.

So, you know, as you’ve explained, you have a really interesting backstory. Apart from being a stylist, you were born in Uganda, you were raised in Birmingham, you’ve got two degrees under your belt, law and management, nothing to do with fashion. And you’ve got loads of experience working in different fields and experimenting with lots of different business ideas.

So, based on your particular experience of life and work, do you have any, specific words of advice or wisdom or some key learnings that you wanna share about your journey so far?

Simon Tefula Joseph:

[00:19:14] Yeah, I mean. I think I would narrow it down to three things. I think the first and most important thing is that I, I’m sure you know this, this sounds really cliche, and everyone’s heard it before, but there’s no such thing as the perfect time, right? ”Cause you know, if, if you are waiting for the moon and the stars and the horoscopes to align before you make that move, before you try out that idea, before you start that podcast, before you write that book, you’ll literally wait until Jesus’ second coming. You’ll wait until forever, until the end of the world, essentially.

So the first thing I’d say to somebody is do not wait. Start now. Start today. Get that thing started.Like I was saying earlier, slow motion is better than no motion. Like, just plow away, start where you are with what you have and do what you can.

Plus the other thing I’d, I’d really encourage people as well is, explore, you know, like explore the world around you. Explore. Don’t just limit yourself. I mean, you know, people always say, growth begins outside of your comfort zone. And that’s, you know, that’s easy to say, but the truth of the matter is it really does, you really have to push outside your, even when you have to go on holiday, right?

Even if you have to go on vacation somewhere, you have to leave the place you live in order to go somewhere else. So you really have to sort of continuously push yourself out there. I mean, like you mentioned, I have a law degree. I’ve worked in banking, I’ve got, you know, masters in management. I’m like the king of the jack of all trades, you know, like.

My life is literally like the intersection of all these Venn diagrams that, that’s me. And I, you know, I don’t frown upon, you know, being called a jack of all trades. And I really encourage people to explore. And, then the other thing as well is I think it’s really important for individuals to, again, take time out and reflect what’s really important to you. Think. What is your personal life statement? What is your mission statement? If you were an organisation and you had to write it down in one line, what would that be? And then, once you’ve defined that and what your values are, let that define how you want to, you know, navigate this world, whether it’s your career, relationships, business, like let that define you. So, so yeah, I mean, you know, basically start now.

Do not wait for the perfect moment. That’s number one. Number two, explore, you know, push yourself outta your comfort zone and then, and then define what your values are, what your mission statement is, and really kind of like let that be the North star.

Let that help you navigate your way along life, essentially.

Mich Bondesio:

[00:21:32] Those are really helpful and valuable compass points to guide people. So thanks for sharing that Simon. Really brilliant. Thank you so much. So as we’re ending off, where is the best place for people to find you online?

Simon Tefula Joseph:

[00:21:43] So, the best place for you to find everything there is to know about me is to check out my personal website, which is simontefula.com. So that’s T-E-F-U-L-A, well, Simon T-E-F-U-L a.com. All my socials are on there. I’m Simon Tefula on all the socials. And yeah, please feel free to reach out. I’m more responsive on LinkedIn and on, Instagram as well.

I think those are the two most active platforms for me. But, you know, I’m a friendly face. Please feel free to reach out, and, and I’d be more than happy to connect.

Mich Bondesio:

[00:22:14] That’s wonderful and we’ll include all of the links in the show notes as well, and on the transcript page on the Creating Cadence website.

So thank you so much, Simon. I really appreciate you being here today.

Simon Tefula Joseph:

[00:22:24] Thank you for having me, and, congratulations on launching your book. That’s a huge, huge, you know, achievement for you as well.

Mich Bondesio: Thank you so much. You too.

Simon Tefula Joseph: Thank you.

Mich Bondesio:

[00:22:31] Well, I hope you enjoyed that conversation as much as I did. Simon has such a beautiful outlook on the world and his approach to life and work is just so inspiring.

Now in my book, The Cadence Effect, I devote a whole chapter to talking about the importance of adopting the right mindset for what you’re trying to achieve in life.

And Simon’s three tips based on his lessons in his journey so far really tap into this idea of developing an action-oriented, curious, and reflective mindset. And it’s obvious from what he’s explained, the benefits that can be gained from doing so.

I love Simon’s whole approach to creating a life philosophy that guides his thoughts, words, and actions. So he can be an enduring source of hope, empowerment and opportunity to the world. His mission is very clear and very powerful. Simon is also doing incredibly important work, helping to embed more holistic approaches to more sustainable, personalised, and inclusive fashion. In a way that supports people with unique body shapes and sizes, special physical needs and mobility challenges.

You know, one of the points that Simon made in terms of how he feels they’re able to create cadence with TRENDiPEOPLE, is that when we feel good in what we wear, we tend to feel more confident and can therefore achieve much more.

And he’s focusing on helping previously excluded people from being able to do that. When it comes to cadence, Simon’s work helps to reduce the friction that these people have when it comes to finding suitable clothing. It creates a smoother, more fluid experience for them and helps them to create a wardrobe that supports building their confidence.

And from a personal perspective for Simon creating cadence in his life. Relates to focusing on optimistic learning and seeking alignment. Connecting both the internal and external parts of his life with his spiritual, physical, and mental needs as well.

The final point that I want to touch on relates to Simon’s wonderful quote, “slow motion is better than no motion”. So often we’re impatient to achieve that big thing. But it may be too big for us to achieve in one go, or on our own, or with the resources that we currently have. And we tend to get caught up in that hustle culture of getting shit done fast.

But doing something meaningful well, can sometimes take longer. And it can sometimes involve a bigger undertaking that we anticipate. When things feel too big, we often get overwhelmed and then we give up and that’s the no motion part that Simon refers to.

As I mentioned in my book, creating cadence is also about breaking things down into manageable pieces, starting small and at a pace that’s doable. So that you can overcome inertia and maintain momentum and keep moving forward.

The point is to start. There’s no right time. Nobody’s hanging in the wings waiting to give you permission.

So you have to find a way to make it totally manageable and doable for you to start. And to paraphrase another of SImon’s wonderful quotes, “everything happens for a lesson, not a reason”. So fear of starting doesn’t get you anywhere. You’ll never learn anything if you don’t actually take that first action.

So, if you have an idea that you think can change the world, in big or little ways, what’s one thing that you can do today, to take one step forwards to help you make it happen at some point in the future.

I’ll be back soon with another interview, but a few things before you go.

You can find out more about my new book at TheCadenceEffect.com. And helpful reviews are always welcome to help the book get found by those who need it.

A reminder too that if you want to be the first to hear about the special offers relating to the new coaching cohort that’s coming in early 2024, please sign up for the cadence newsletter at CreatingCadence.co/subscribe.

If you like the show, please share the love by rating it on Apple, Spotify, Google Play, or Amazon Music. You can also support “CreatingCadence”, all one word, on Patreon, or BuyMeACoffee

Thanks again for listening. Until next time, keep moving forwards with courage, curiosity, and cadence.

Bye for now.

Sign up for the Cadence Newsletter

‘Cadence – Life & Work in Motion’ is a free accompaniment to the podcast published twice monthly by Mich Bondesio.

Find out when the latest episodes drop and learn more about the themes for each season of the podcast.

It includes curated articles, tips and learning principles for ways to create momentum, work with purpose and live with intention. 

You also get access to free goodies!

© Bondesio C&C  2024. All Rights Reserved.

Helion Wordpress Theme

Website designed in collaboration with Benjamin Hackett.

Photography by Christina Davies, Victoria Bayley and Rachel Ovenden.

Join the Cadence Club

Be better prepared for life & work in motion.

Free monthly guide and podcast updates, twice monthly.