I was excited to get my hands on Coming Up Roses. As a keen crafter with a love of floral prints, I have always had an embarrassing, sneaking liking for Cath Kidston shops. I’ve never gone for her classic middle-England prints, or changing bags, or anything – the little cowboys and ditsy prints are too twee even for me (and that’s saying something). I have found the body lotion (a gift; who would buy it for themselves?) very poor, and think the general choice of prints is unimaginative. But honestly, I am essentially a fan. I do like the pastel, pretty concept of it all, and her clothes are often quite gorgeous.
So I’ve always wanted to know how she built such a successful business, when so many crafty people never get very far with making money from what they design. I was all the more intrigued because I’ve never read an interview with Kidston or seen her on TV. As a journalist, I’ve tried to get an interview with her a couple of times over the years and been refused by a tough-as-nails representative.
But there’s something very odd about Coming Up Roses. First of all, it’s not actually written by Cath – it’s an extended interview with her in the third person, like a huge long magazine article.
Perhaps because of this, we never get a sense of who Cath really is. There’s a long list of her childhood pets – but do we really want to know that? I want to understand what makes her tick; whether she’s a tough businesswoman or a crafty type who got lucky. But reading this, I get the feeling she was guarding herself and hates self-publicity, because she reveals so very little.
She comes across as an ordinary beyond ordinary woman of a certain age…shy and sweet. But I’m not fooled. I’m convinced there must be more to her. Nobody is this bland and ordinary, and certainly not a consummate entrepreneur like Cath Kidston.
It’s still an entertaining read, covering how she built her business, but there’s definitely a lot missing. Fair enough, I suppose – why should Cath Kidston tell all? After all, she’s a master at sticking to her brand, which is all about being inoffensive and nice. But I’d love to know who the real Cath is.
Postscript: I just told my husband I’d posted about Cath Kidston. He actually hadn’t a clue who she was. Men, eh?