India Hicks - goddaughter to the Prince of Wales, granddaughter of Britain’s last viceroy in India and bridesmaid of the late Princess Diana - may have been born into aristocracy, but she has not rested on her laurels.
Hicks, whose late father was celebrated interior designer David Hicks, lives in the Bahamas with her partner and five children, and has written three books on island life and style. In 2015, she started a self-branded direct sales lifestyle company that sells bags, home accessories and beauty items inspired by British culture and island life.
Whether it is running a business, writing books or raising her children (ages 9 to 19), Hicks, 49, has learned several lessons learned along the way. Recently, she talked to Reuters about them.
Q: You have such an unusual family background - what early lessons on money did you learn at home?
A: My father had a very powerful quote: “Good taste and design are by no means dependent on money.” Now living in a world filled with creative entrepreneurial people, from all walks of life, this really resonates with me, although not at the time when he wrote it in my little autograph book. I was 8 years old and utterly confused.
Q: What kept your feet on the ground as a child?
A: As a child I lived on a large estate with exotic pets such as golden pheasants and strutting peacocks, and we may have holidayed in the South of France and the Bahamas, but I only ever wore hand-me-down clothes (including my brother’s scratchy underpants).
If I wanted something new, I always had to wait until a birthday or Christmas, and even then it would be something very understated. My mother grew up during the war and had lived through some very frugal years.
Q: What was your first job?
A: When my parents sold the family home along with most of the valuable contents I was around 11 years old. Sotheby’s handled the sale and the public came through our house to see the collection and bid on items. I was allowed to sell my toys and dolls during the three-day sale. Does this count as a first job? It certainly gave me a taste for commerce. I began modeling seriously when I was 19 and have earned my own income ever since.
Q: What has your career in modeling as well as business taught you about wealth and money?
A: I have learned to be very cautious and to take nothing for granted. Having worked in the modeling industry for so many years, I have seen countless models become very successful, make an awful lot of money and lose it very quickly because they had no idea how to invest, how to be cautious and how to be clever with their fortune. I have learned to take advice from people all the time, from people you respect. There is no harm in asking questions; there is no harm in admitting that you don’t know certain things.
Q: How do you give back?
A: I had extraordinary grandparents who believed that we should take nothing for granted and that we must always be responsible, grateful and give back as much as we can.
Wesley, my foster son, from the Bahamas, is one of the greatest blessings of my life, and because of him we are reminded of what we have every day and feel grateful every day.
As a family, we tend to focus on the island and give back to island causes and local communities.
Q: What life lessons do you try to pass down to your own kids?
A: I try to set an example for my children by working hard at something that I believe in. I try to show them that rewards come from staying the course and being committed. When I travel to an event I try to bring one of my kids with me, so they can see the real work and effort that goes into creating something substantial, successful and rewarding.