An interview with Angela Prentner-Smith
Dyspraxia is a condition that affects around 10% of the British population, yet it’s still generally misunderstood. To mark Dyspraxia Week, we asked our founder and MD Angela Prentner-Smith a few questions about Dyspraxia, her diagnosis, and how it affects her life and work.
When did you first notice you had Dyspraxic traits?
As a child, I was labelled as clumsy. I was the kid that cried in gym class because I found it so hard. My nan used to say I was covered in bruises. Dyspraxia affects your gross motor skills, and your fine motor skills. Gross motor skills are things like running or playing ball. Fine motor skills are things like handwriting. So along with my general clumsiness, I also found handwriting incredibly difficult. Although I could read before I started school, my handwriting was about two years behind everybody else's. My handwriting is still not good. However, during my school years, nothing was picked up. I don’t think Dyspraxia was even a consideration when I was at school. Even now, how many parents would recognise Dyspraxia in their children? Raising awareness about the condition is a priority.
Does Dyspraxia just affect your coordination?
Dyspraxia is also known as ‘Developmental Coordination Disorder’, but I don’t think that term covers all aspects of Dyspraxia. Working memory is also one of the things that affect people with Dyspraxia, and I think that has even more of an impact in the workplace and at school than the coordination issues. The ability to retain sequences of movements and sequences of words is also harder for people with Dyspraxia.
The mistakes I made - and the lessons I learned - when I started This is Milk
Being in a position to reflect on 7 years of building This is Milk, has been a humbling experience. I’m thankful for being able to make the decisions I have in life, and as a result made the learnings I have. As they say, you learn by doing.
When you’re building a business – your focus is always, at least in part, on looking successful, so although you experience much hardship as you grow, it’s not always appropriate to share your failings and therefore your learnings. Today, I feel comfortable in sharing what I learned in those first few years, and in another 7, I’ll be sharing what I’m learning today!
Be your own salesperson
In the early days I had the courage and bravery to start a business, but I lacked the confidence to make sales and pursue the business I needed to. I looked to others to do this for me. But when you first start a business, you need to be the salesperson, you need to have enough confidence to do that yourself.