Paul Whiteside (BA Classical Civilisation 1986-89 and MA Classics 1989-90) is a communications professional turned textile artist and novelist. He has just launched BodiceBeautiful: exclusive designer corset-tops, bodices, bustiers and basques, created and handcrafted in Warwickshire.
When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I was never really sure but had a passion for biology and thought about being a dentist or a vet. I also thought about being an architect – but my maths was useless and I couldn’t draw.
What was the best careers advice you were given?
To think about being an accountant or engineer – my careers teacher was quite out of touch with my abilities (or lack of). I decided then that I wanted to be a writer, and have been writing ever since.
Describe yourself in three words
Tall, excitable and funny.
What are the most challenging parts of your job?
I am a self-employed textile artist and novelist, and both require inspiration and self-motivation. I started my business www.bodicebeautiful.co.uk on St Valentine’s Day this year. Getting people to part with money and keeping motivated and creative are two continuing challenges. As well as designing clothes I have been completing two novels, that have required a massive amount of tenacious research, and that until published, will bring me no money at all.
What have you done that you are most proud of?
After failing A levels the first time round and feeling an academic failure, I went on to get a B in English Literature A level, going to Warwick as a mature student and achieving a first class degree – BA Classical Civilisation. Also having had three children has been very important – because they will be here when eventually I am not
What drives you?
I have a passion for structure and detail, and also the fight for fairness and against injustice. My desire for a greener, fairer world. Quality of life is far more important than money.
What single thing would most improve the quality of your life?
A bit more patience with other people and one or two published novels.
What three objects would you take with you to a desert island?
My wife, a box of paper and a box of Bic biro pens.
Where do you hope to be in 10 years’ time?
On a Mediterranean coast somewhere, writing and designing, drinking red wine and eating black olives in the sun, reading one of my own (published) novels and reading a positive newspaper review of a few of my (then) current designs.
How would you like to be remembered?
As a published novelist and designer of quirky women’s clothes.
What are your favourite memories of your university years at Warwick?
The Lakes, Library and hours drinking in the Student’s Union listening to bands.
Do you have any advice for new graduates?
Yes, be true to yourself and be brave. Don’t let anyone ever make you believe you can’t do something if inside, you believe you can. After a lifetime of journalism, writing and PR, I decided to move into designing and making women’s clothes. University gave me the courage to do that. Oh, and when you are not sure about something do seek advice – it can save you time and money.
Anything else you would like to add?
I would like to thank my family and friends for being patient and putting up with me and my sometimes quirky ways. Also my three children Natalie, Louise and Philip who have always made me smile and really made it all worthwhile.
Paul Whiteside: the facts
||North Warwickshire – came here for University in 1986 and have never moved away.|