Kathrine Spurway: “Never be afraid to learn something new”

Never be afraid to learn something new. We’re in a world now where technology opens up possibilities that never existed before. I can reach a global audience with my brand. That’s an amazing thing. But it takes being open to learning new skills to realize those possibilities. As a part of my series about “Big […]

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Never be afraid to learn something new. We’re in a world now where technology opens up possibilities that never existed before. I can reach a global audience with my brand. That’s an amazing thing. But it takes being open to learning new skills to realize those possibilities.


As a part of my series about “Big Ideas That Might Change The World In The Next Few Years” I had the pleasure of interviewing Kathrine Spurway, the founder of Nanducket, a children’s apparel & lifestyle brand designed to cultivate a culture of acceptance for all.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you please tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Almost 10 years ago, my life was changed when I was afflicted with Bell’s Palsy. My face was paralyzed and unlike many who suffer from the condition, I was only able to recover a small amount of movement. I found it difficult to adjust.

People treated me differently, and not always in a good way.

As a child, I was occasionally teased and bullied as well.

As a mom, I see kids treated as outcasts all the time. When kids are different, they are not treated the same by other children. I believe all people should be loved and accepted, just as they are. That’s the inspiration behind Nanducket. I wanted to create a brand with a mission to help people — especially kids — celebrate their differences, and learn to be inclusive.

Can you please share with us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Well, this might not be the most interesting thing that’s happened to me, but it is the most meaningful. One day I received a call from a mother whose daughter, Riley, has a serious health issue that has resulted in her being bullied in school. Riley had discovered my book at a store and read it, and it really caught her imagination — “Mom,” she said, “We have to get this book. I’m just like Ack.” It meant so much to hear that Ack’s story made an impact with a child like this.

Which principles or philosophies have guided your life? Your career?

Principle: Celebrating differences and accepting people for who they are.

Philosophy: The reason kids end up not embracing other kids with differences is that when kids see differences in others and ask their parents about it, all too often the parent shuts down the conversation, because they don’t want to call attention to or embarrass the person with the difference. So, they’re unknowingly teaching their child not to engage with those people.

Ok thank you for that. Let’s now move to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell us about your “Big Idea That Might Change The World”?

Our goal is to help build a movement about celebrating people for their differences, and as part of that mission we’re big believers in creating awareness for and providing funding to programs for Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). Differences can be anything: body size and shape; acne; wearing glasses or braces; ethnicity; disability; etc.

SEL teaches and promotes children’s self-awareness, collaborative problem solving and social decision-making skills in a proactive way. They help children feel better about themselves and others. In the long term, children who have access to SEL build a better social foundation and more self-confidence, resulting in better performance — academically, and later in life.

How do you think this will change the world?

Happier, healthier, and more successful children will grow into happier, healthier, and more successful adults. And when they have kids of their own, they’ll pass on their view of the world. It’s the trigger to a virtuous cycle. Ack can be a role model, an inspiration, and a voice for good.

Keeping “Black Mirror” and the “Law of Unintended Consequences” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this idea that people should think more deeply about?

People might perceive our message is a political message. It’s not intended to be. In fact, we believe that it’s important to be accepting of political differences, too.

Also, there’s a difference between accepting differences and accepting bad or antisocial behavior. We are not in favor of the latter. Some behavior is objectively unacceptable.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this idea? Can you tell us that story?

I was spending some time with some distant acquaintances, one of whom had experienced a traumatic brain injury as the result of an accident with a drunk driver several years before. One of these people made a comment to him that I’ll never forget — “The way you act, you could be a professional clown.” It was said so casually, but it struck me as being so hurtful to that person, who was struggling through no fault of his own. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me.

What do you need to lead this idea to widespread adoption?

Our goal is to bring people together, and that starts with getting more people to participate in the conversation. So, we need to get more people talking about “accepting differences” as an issue. The great thing about it is that it’s something that I think everyone can agree on, regardless of their demographics or political persuasion. Once people start to realize how important this is, it will lead to more people understanding the benefits of SEL as a valuable program for all children.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

Be patient. It takes time to create things from scratch, whether it’s a book or a new dress. But quality is really important.

Stay focused. I have 100 ideas a minute and as someone trying to build a business, I can’t afford to run all of them down. Focus on executing against the best ideas is critical.

Work with people you enjoy. I’ve been lucky to get a lot of help along the way from some great people. Not everyone is always going to be a supporter. Try to identify the people who really believe in you, and put your energy into those relationships.

Be passionate. I’m really lucky to have the opportunity every day to work on something that I care deeply about. Starting a business can be frustrating sometimes, but my passion for our mission keeps me going even when I run into roadblocks.

Can you share with our readers what you think are the most important “success habits” or “success mindsets”?

Keep moving forward. I’ve learned that starting a business takes an unbelievable amount of work and persistence. You can never stop.

Don’t let your feelings get in the way of your goals. Sometimes the job requires that we have to do things, even if we really don’t want to do them.

Never be afraid to learn something new. We’re in a world now where technology opens up possibilities that never existed before. I can reach a global audience with my brand. That’s an amazing thing. But it takes being open to learning new skills to realize those possibilities.

Some very well known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

The newest generation can change the world that we want them to inherit. Our social-positive message resonates with tens of millions of parents, grandparents, educators, and child caregivers. The book and related products make a powerful statement — morally and financially. We’re on the ground floor of a movement that is going to change the world. Now’s a great time to get on board with a message that is hard to refute.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

@nanducket on Instagram

@nanducketstyle on Facebook

Nanducket on LinkedIn

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