Lucy Kebbell, Chair and Corporate Services Manager at Commonsense.

Who or what did you want to be when you grew up?

I had a pretty sweet childhood and never really thought too much about growing up. I guess I should make something up about being a very mindful child and always living in the moment but the truth is simply that I have never had much imagination!

What is your professional background?

My first real job supporting myself was as a waitress and barista in London when I was 17. It was quite formative as I learnt that my needs/thoughts/desires were pretty irrelevant in this context which was good to learn early in life. I also learnt never to be rude to waitstaff, gay Irish waiters in particular, as the things they came up with to exact their revenge on customers were next level.

After my teenage OE I became a commercial lawyer and did this for 17 years, most recently working for our national Air Traffic Control company, Airways.

I’m now Corporate Services Manager for Commonsense – my family’s organic food business which I have been working for on and off since I was 16. This is a catch-all kind of role which incorporates responsibility for communications, design, IT and business systems.

When do you feel the most creative or inspired?

Usually when I’m not trying too hard. Sometimes I’ll be at the beach or in the garden and all of a sudden I’ll find a solution to a problem I didn’t even know I was thinking about. These are the best moments and I’m almost tripping over myself to write down my new idea in case it disappears as quickly and easily as it arrived. I always try and have a notebook with me for this reason.

When are you happiest?

Being in the natural environment with my family. This allows me and my partner, Paul, to be the kind of parents we would like to be – off line and totally present with our kids.

Watching my kids develop their skills and independence also gives me a huge amount of pleasure, although this also comes with the bittersweet realisation that that they’re no longer my babies!

What is your big project or goal for 2018?

Rolling out our new branding! We have recently changed our name from “Commonsense Organics” to “Commonsense” and now need all of our signage and communications to reflect this. We’re kicking off with a brand-new website in the new year and then rebranding all our 6 stores. Communicating the reasons why we are doing this is also really important as people assume we are diluting our commitment to organic products which is absolutely not the case. As ‘organic’ becomes more mainstream we had to take a long hard look at what makes us a standout business. Organics is just one of our core values of ethical trading – the others being a commitment to fair trade, social responsibility and environmental sustainability. We felt it was time for the other values to shine but this was difficult to do while the word ‘organics’ had the limelight.

Who or what is inspiring you at the moment?

Jacinda, Oprah & Rey.

What do you continually ask yourself?

What happens if I don’t do this? It’s easy to get into a pattern of doing things ‘just because’. If I take a moment to reflect on the ‘why’ and think I can live with the consequences of not getting something done then it’s like a gift!

Who do you collaborate with best?

I love to collaborate – it dilutes the pain of failure and amplifies the joy of success! I work best with clever, creative people who have strong opinions but are also flexible enough to quickly adapt to a change in direction when necessary. On the rebrand project I have had fantastic working relationships with Inject Design (graphic design), Catherine Adam (design consultant), Sarah Connor (branding consultant) and Mark Huser (web developer) who all work in this way and I know I can trust.

Who has challenged you to be better than you once were?

Our relationship counsellor – Rhonda. Sharing a life with someone is hard work. It’s particularly hard when you are both strong willed, have ‘important’ stuff to do and 2 kids to raise. We see Rhonda fairly regularly just to check in with how we’re relating to each other and it has really improved the way we communicate. Also, Paul thinks it’s hilarious to sing “Help, help me Rhonda” in the prelude to a session.

How does courage manifest in your work?

Making decisions takes courage. As a lawyer I was usually an advisor to the decision maker, but in business you’re making decisions all the time. Not all of them will be good ones so having the courage to fail is important because it allows you to take risks. I tell my kids that mistakes are only bad if you don’t learn anything from them and as adults we need to remember this too.

When has mentorship played a role in your life?

My parents are amazing role models – they are compassionate, kind and generous people who have always opened their home to everyone. I grew up in a halfway house that my parents ran for people transitioning from mental institutions and we still spend Christmas with some of them.

It’s my Dad who has set the tone for our unique business model – one based on co-operation rather than competition and people not profit. At 79 he’s still active in the business and isn’t showing any sign of slowing down – he’s just come back from a 3 week adventure in the Amazon and Galapagos Islands. My parents make aging look like a party!