Jennifer Hyland - an open book
My book opens with Harvey the Lifestyle Dog®, a puppy who came into my life when I least expected it. He arrived with special magic that inspired me to write for children, culminating in a series of activity storybooks (and more) all associated with the common ground we share in our respective traits!
Never too old to grow up or learn something new – that's where I place myself in life.
A genuine Cockney, born within the sound of Bow Bells, I've travelled 'in time' to finally settle in the tranquillity of the Cotswolds. However, reflecting on the years and what happened in between has given me a reason to talk about myself.
As a child, I grew up always with a pen or pencil and notepad in hand - gradually beginning to see the universe through creative glasses. It made me think anything connected to the arts, in whatever mode, presents a lasting memory, an association or a deep impression.
How the years have flown! I've been married to David forever and a day and we decided from the start that we wanted an active life. Full on, always on the go, never short of sunshine holidays, keeping fit, making time for a busy social life with friends and family and fun … and lots of it! But having a career was a priority for me, and although Dave an I are on different pathways we've complemented one another throughout.
So why did I opt for the business world when I had the imagination to be creative? At the time (under guidance from my parents) it offered me a backdrop to anything I wanted to do and believe it or not, there is something creative in writing a letter or presenting a set of accounts - even down to finding a penny to make the figures balance. I found there was nothing like having tuition while you work - hands-on made a much deeper impact - and roles from personal secretary to a company secretary in different industries helped to pave the way to my future.
Being painfully shy, I was never sitting 'front of stage'; grabbing the limelight was not my strength, despite having the desire to leave an impression on society. Knowledge is power, gained from listening, learning and taking notice. It helped me to build on new ideas, perhaps sometimes above my station, but they continued to flow until a combination of work ethics and influences encouraged me to set up a graphic design partnership. I envied the talent of Christopher Mundy and sought his expertise and artistic flair; his qualifications in graphic design and illustration transported me into the creative world ... for real.
This is where my business background gave me a chance to prosper; I was always in search of what was around the next corner. Graphic design introduced me people and businesses from many walks of life, each looking for something different. This was a positive insight into a variety of design concepts that needed a strong level of communication. I found the whole process rewarding, but none more so than Harvey who was truly waiting around that next corner!
My brother Len arrived with a six-week-old puppy, the last one from an unplanned litter, looking for a forever home. Wrapped in a pink towel, which became his comfort toy, how could I resist something so cute – and I was already reading Len's mind, “You have your own business you can take him to work!” Dare I say the rest is history - much to the shock-horror of my family. They say a dog chooses its owner and clearly, Harvey knew what he was doing given that he came to me 'deliberately' for a reason.
Somehow Harvey changed the way I live, let alone the way I wanted to work. I had no experience of ever owning a dog but with my nose to the ground, his personality helped me to bring new business to the partnership from the pet trade. This opened up a whole new world of opportunity and working with pets brought home the true meaning of unconditional love. With Harvey beside me, I unearthed the confidence I lacked, which helped to knock down the barriers around me. He was a huge distraction, constantly tugging away at new opportunities. Harvey drove me in the direction of making him something of a celebrity. He was always with me and I could not resist putting him at the forefront – and I began to revel in attending events, simply by owning a pet.
From the very beginning, a little puppy could not miss out on the attention of finding himself in a design studio – along with a few puddles on the floor, he started to leave his mark with clients – and the motivation for what happened next? … A Harvey cuddly toy for a start!
By now I recognised how Harvey's life had so much to give back to help make a difference to the lives of youngsters and I latched on to any opportunity that gave me an audience to reach schoolchildren, who came to adore him! I was overwhelmed by the relationship between a pet and its owner - how much we share in habits, emotions and behaviour - as I pushed him towards local council projects associated with lifestyle and the environment … hence the trademark.
I've made headway in many directions, including writing previously for a national dog magazine and kids publications in Malta. In a small way I seem to have reached international status, but being able to link marketing projects associated with education is playing a large part towards where I am today - pinching myself along the way. Very much a hobby at the onset, the subject matter allowed me to research so much information in order to convert my work into fun-filled children's storybooks. Graphic design has been the ideal medium to help me diversify into creating something for 'me' – and Harvey's own publishing company was born.
Tenacity, enthusiasm, a sense of humour and passion - I've laughed, I've cried in the creation of my work around Harvey; the emotions run deep and while Harvey was an inspiration to me, I am the impetus behind Harvey the Lifestyle Dog®!
Harvey the real dog will always stand in front of his trademarked image but as the 'plot thickens' his caricature images will, in time, include Jay-J and Dash, his adopted brothers, to help make my dream come true!
“Every day is like the first day Harvey came into my life at the age of six-weeks and this little ball of fluff, with no definition, grew into a very handsome dog. A mixture of Spaniel and Retriever, his appeal never failed to attract attention, and he became the inspiration behind the creation of Harvey The Lifestyle Dog® and the job that he was sent here to do.”