From Council Estate to Creative Heights

My Journey in the Design and Events Industry
Words by: Simon Hatter, HATTER Founder
As we prepare to open HATTER’s new office in London, I find myself reflecting on the journey that brought me here—from the council estates of my youth to leading a thriving brand experience agency with offices in Amsterdam and now London.

This milestone is not just a professional achievement but a deeply personal one, rooted in a story of resilience, hard work, and the unwavering belief in the power of joy.

Growing up in a council estate with my single mum after my dad passed away was a challenging experience. The stigma and shame associated with our circumstances often felt overwhelming. Society's expectations and the harsh realities of our financial situation created a heavy burden that I carried into adulthood. I remember the constant fear of not having enough, of not fitting in, and the relentless drive to prove myself in a world that often felt out of reach.

Adding to these challenges was the fact that I was a queer kid in an environment that was not always accepting. Coming out early on was a difficult decision, and the strain it put on my young life was immense. My stepdad never knew about my sexuality, which added another layer of stress and secrecy. The fear of rejection and the need to hide a core part of my identity made an already tough situation even more complicated.

My relationship with work was shaped by these early experiences. I developed what I call the "council estate chip on my shoulder"—a relentless drive to succeed, fueled by the fear of falling back into the life I desperately wanted to escape. This drive propelled me forward, pushing me to work harder than anyone else, to seize every opportunity, and to never take anything for granted. But it also came with its own set of challenges.

There were times when my work ethic bordered on unhealthy. The fear of losing everything I had worked for was a constant companion, driving me to work long hours and neglect other aspects of my life. I often felt like an outsider in the professional world, lying about my family history to fit in with colleagues who came from more privileged backgrounds. The pressure to conform and the fear of being judged kept me from fully embracing my true self.

However, over time, I learned that my background was not something to hide but a source of strength. The resilience, resourcefulness, and determination that I developed growing up in a council estate became invaluable assets in my career. They shaped my approach to work and life, instilling in me a deep appreciation for every success and a relentless drive to create meaningful experiences for others.

At HATTER, we believe in the power of joy and human connection. Our mission is to create spaces, places, and experiences that spark joy and foster genuine connections. This mission is deeply personal to me, as it reflects my own journey of finding joy and connection despite the challenges I faced. It is a reminder that no matter where we come from, we all have the capacity to create moments of magic and bring happiness into the lives of others.

Beginning the journey of opening a new office in London is a testament to this belief. It is a celebration of the journey from that council estate to these crazy heights. It is a reminder that our past does not define us but shapes us into who we are today. And it is an invitation to others to embrace their own stories, to find strength in their struggles, and to create their own paths to joy and success.

As we embark on this new chapter, I am filled with gratitude for the journey that brought us here and excitement for the possibilities that lie ahead. To anyone who feels like an outsider, who carries the weight of their past, or who doubts their place in the world—I want you to know that your story matters. Your experiences, no matter how challenging, are a source of strength. And with resilience, determination, and a bit of joy, you too can create a future that is bright and full of possibility.

And who knows, maybe one day I'll get the full story down—now that would be a tale worth telling!

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