Louise Giles hates crying in front of people.
She admits it about two minutes before she starts to tear up, which she does in a way that confirms what she’s just said. She really does hate it.
But she cries anyway—because that’s what she’s like, an open book, and someone for whom truth and authenticity are not optional extras, but right at the core of who she is.
‘I’m trying to get to the truth all the time, which can be relentless,’ she says, as if it’s a burden she was born with, but one she’s happy to carry. ‘If you don’t, it feels inauthentic. But I think it’s also part of my passion for people, knowing who they are. And being known, which is a harder one for me. To be truly vulnerable is the journey I’m learning. Vulnerability can be seen as a weakness, especially if you’re “the boss”.’
Being ‘in charge’ of things is clearly something Louise does well. Competency doesn’t seem to be a problem either, even if vulnerability is. Louise runs a successful creative design company, Husk, housed in the old Crave cafe building in Morningside. Right across the road, she’s also part-owner of the new Crave, and one of four leaders of the Mosaic community church group that sits behind the cafe and meets there every week.
Her involvement in Crave came about because of ‘a myriad of things all sort of converging together’, namely her family’s move to Morningside, her association with the team behind Crave from way back, Crave becoming her local cafe, and the cafe’s rebranding around 2011, which was given to Husk to carry out.
‘Eventually there was a conversation about the church behind the scenario,’ Louise says. ‘Part of that was finding out the sort of philosophy of how they roll in the neighbourhood, which kind of coincided with what I call a “churchianity” crisis of my own.’
After having been neck deep in the church world her entire life, Louise had a sudden ‘third eye’, or a different perspective on the whole thing.
‘I suddenly felt like I had an outer body experience. You’re outside looking in, going, Is this crazy? Are we all nuts? Is this even making a difference in the world? Is this real? Possibly, it was a mid-life crisis disguised as a church-based one, but either way, I had a lot of fundamental questions. It was an unhinging for me, basically.’
Louise describes the process as the cheese falling off her Christian cracker, which is round about where we see the tears. Emotional though her crisis was, it brought her to Crave, and to a group of people who, in her words, ‘have arms and legs on their faith’ and are ‘getting stuff done in the world for God’.
As for Husk, it plays an equally important role in her life, as well as the Morningside community. Husk’s tagline is ‘We offer killer creative that will help your business grow’. It’s about results, and about redefining and refreshing business and helping people tell their story well.
‘As a team we are highly relational and highly executing, so we get shit done but we do it in a love-people way.’
That means there’s as much emphasis on sitting and having coffee with clients as there is on coming up with solutions. The two go hand-in-glove. Which also makes being part-owner of a cafe very handy indeed.
‘Even if you love what you do, you still need to have time and space,’ Louise says, mulling over her very busy life. ‘In creating Husk, one of my philosophies was that our work is actually not all we are here to do. It’s good if we are passionate and it gets us out of bed in the morning to do something we love and even get paid for, but we don’t live to work, we work to live.
‘I’m always encouraging my staff to leave at 5 o’clock - no late nights, no weekends. We are not working for the man or the empire. Dreams and goals and family and other priorities fuel us and enable us to be better humans both at work and play.’