and Matt Whittaker got fed up with the bland look of
their car and so decorated it with flower stickers.
From that small beginning has developed a 'cottage industry'
business that now looks as though it could end up
in the UK and Spain, soon to go into France and with
plans for the USA and Australia, there could
ultimately be millions of cars emblazoned with
flowers, peace and love stickers and Banksy artworks
to bring some cheer and colour to our highways and
Digger talk with Matt and Angela about Hippy Motors.
Matt: Hello Hippy Motors.
Hello Matt. Itís Digger.
Hello Digger. Iíve got you on speaker phone
because Iíve got Angela here as well.
Digger: Iíll dive into the questions if
thatís alright? Please tell us about your
background and the background to Hippy Motors.
Okay, well I started life engineering and as a
designer and a teacher. I used to use the equipment
as a teacher and we bought a big ugly car.
A Fiat Multipla. Itís the one with the big ugly
eyes under the windscreen. So we just thought weíd
pretty it up because we had the machine. So we put
flowers on the car and it looked fantastic. People liked them and commented on them. So we just
started to put them on eBay and thatís how it all
started. Angela is a linguist and a
mathematician and sheís worked for The Halifax.
Then went into Hippiness and energy efficiency and
then into Hippy stickers.
Are you two firm believers in the idea that all of
the things youíve done and learned and experienced
in the past all come together to for a particular
There are lessons in everything every day and if you
keep an open mind you are always learning. And I do
fell that everything leads to the point Iím at
It gives me wonderful excitement about the future.
I never feel as though I'm at a point where I can't
go any further. You never know what's around the
corner and it keeps you very challenged and very
excited about life.
I suppose your biggest resource, apart from your
clients who I suppose come back again and again, is
you two because you can wake up in the morning and
you've got all those skills and experience and
that's a great skillset to have.
Oh yes. It's brilliant. But it's also great not to
have involvement in companies where you have to rely
on them. Because you work for a company and you have
all these ambitions and then just become
They let you down don't they?
Matt: They let you down. So the next phase of your life
is to be self-reliant.
One of the best things about what I do, and it's not
interviewing celebrities which some people think it
might be, it's talking to people who have a passion
about their business and what they do. All these
different retro and nostalgia-related businesses
there are, it's fascinating how many people are
stepping out on their own and making a success of
these businesses. Many of them have been down the
corporate route and now they're down their own thing
and it's great.
I think it's knowing that, no matter what you do,
you'll always be fine. I mean, I was so worried
about taking a leap of faith and a big part of my
life was landing these fantastic jobs which were
very, very well paid and very established jobs. But
I had to take such rubbish that just after a year or
two I'd be leaving them to go off travelling.
It was such a relief?
Yes. Some people couldn't believe I was doing this
but then I thought "Why not?"
Were there some jobs where you tried not to get
involved in the pettiness and politics and to keep
your head down and got on with it but eventually it
go to you?
Yes. That's my experience.
Me, I just felt squeezed and not allowed to grow and
made to fit in an area where I just didn't fit. So
what I say to people is "Don't be afraid to
just leave it and look for other things, because
there are always other things around you." For
me it's worked out - I just left and this Hippy
Motors thing just came out of the blue. Absolutely
out of the blue.
To be honest though, Angela, that difference between
you two and 99% of other people is that they don't
want to take that leap. They can't. It's not in
I think it's because people really allow themselves
to be chained down by materialism. The mortgage, the
The guaranteed pay cheque at the end of the month.
Yes, they need the income to pay for all the things
that that they're still paying for and it really
does chain you down. And I think if you can just try
not to focus on the materialistic side of life and
more on the spiritual side of life it gives to so
much more freedom. And enable you to do so much
more. This is what I see round me - so many people
carry on doing things they hate every day because
they're so scared of leaving and not getting the
money and worrying about what would happen. Anyway,
We do, but it's sort of why you are where you are
now. So, what sorts of people are buying your decals and
Well, a massive range of people and that's one of
the surprising things. We've obviously got quite a
girly thing going on as well but we've had Radio Two
DJs buy from us, mega rich friends of Jamie Oliver
and Richard Branson... We've had one that came through
yesterday - someone's' driving across Africa in this
massive ex-military vehicle painted bright yellow
called Sponge Bob and they're taking their kids with
them. And they want to Hippify this military vehicle
to drive across Africa. And we've had the Canadian
equivalent to Jeremy Clarkson. (Digger laughs)
We also get normal people. But one thing that is
surprising is pensioners and retired people - so
many, because they don't care anymore and they do
what they want to do. And they're covering their
cars and they buy a little Smart car, not that I'm
generalising in any way, and people are decorating
these little cars. And wheelchairs as well - loads
of people are doing that.
What can I have that's a little more masculine? I
don't want skulls and crossbones but I don't want
girly stuff but I've just bought a boring silver
Focus. I see about twenty of them whenever I go out.
How can I jazz that up?
Geckos are good. because you can have them in any
colour and they suit anybody's taste really.
Or the old Batman retro-look 'Kapows' and so on.
Yes, that would be quite good.
What else - Banksy the graffiti artist. I see him
very much as a hooded Hippy and he's very much into
love and peace so we do quite a lot of his designs
The peace and love and anti-war signs are good.
You've got the CND symbol, of course?
We do a whole load of wordings as well like
"Life is a journey, not a destination."
And all these things.
Also Tune in, Turn on, Drop out.
I might go for a couple of those - There are some
good suggestions there. What do you think is the
legacy left by the sixties and by the Hippies?
The legacy for me is it's a time of really finding
your place on planet earth, really. With the Hippy
actually coming in tune with the people around
you as well as a nature. And actually, I think we've
all become Hippies. I teach young people at a school and they have a lot of Hippy values.
Everyone's into caring for the planet and very few
agree with war. The only thing that's lacking these
days is that real political sense that the Hippy
It was good to see the students revolting, if you'll
pardon the expression, but I was disappointed that
they were going too far. But it was good to see them
striking out for something. I just wasn't very keen
on the way that some of them did it.
I just think that comes from a lack of practice over
the last few decades.
It certainly seemed to be badly led but that kind of
spirit and sitting on the grass with flowers in your
hair... I mean, I was listening to the Mumford and Sons
song this morning with the same line. Sitting on the
grass with flowers in your hair and that, for me, is
the really Hippy thing. Being things that were real
- the music was real and the feelings were real and
it was a very honest movement. And I think the older
people get, the more real they get and the more Hippy
everyone starts to feel.
It's gratifying that it's now come through to the
younger generation - it might have skipped a couple
of generations because I don't suppose people in the
eighties will be remembered for those kinds of values in
the Maggie years. But it sounds as though it's
finally got through to the youngsters as well in one
way or another?
Yes, that's the gob smacking thing. I start talking
to these kids about how I feel and the vast majority
will agree with me. I'll ask them what's important
in life and they're talking about love and friendship
rather than saying MP3 players or laptops, which
is what my stereotypical expectation of them would
be. But no, that feeling of unity seems to be in
That's great to hear. What feedback are you getting
from clients? And I suppose a lot of them are doing
repeat orders as well, aren't they?
Probably over 60s% of what we do is people coming
back. And that's one thing that really warms us is
this following that we seem to have. People
actually do become addicted and we have so many
people on their third order who say "Sorry, but
I'm addicted now." And once you start, it's a
bit like tattooing your body. You have to know when
I think also we don't get many opportunities to play
with colour. And just getting a chance to be
imaginative and to be creative. I mean, it's very difficult
these days to do anything creative. In the house
people don't really get a chance to too much. But on
your car - it's like a blank piece of canvas and you
can just go for it. And I think people are getting a
lot of enjoyment from just thinking about the
colours and shapes and what they want and where they
want to put things. Kids love stickers but grown ups
love stickers too. I think they're really found that
there's a lot of enjoyment to be had in brightening
things up. So I think that's why they're so addictive
as well. Yes, you can decorate your car but you can
use these stickers anywhere so people are starting
to use them in more creative ways. Wheelchairs are
one thing that's come out of it and that's
It's not just standard vehicles? So what's the
strangest place that people are putting these stickers?
A Russian ice breaker.
Wow. (All laugh)
And I've had a suggestion that it was someone from
Led Zeppelin that did that. Because we do a
Led Zeppelin sticker and we heard rumours.
Micro lights and canoes and canal boats and
Is there a waterproofing issue or is that not a
No, they're all exterior grade vinyl and we did our
mum and dad's boat about six years ago and the
vinyl's still fine on that
We're thinking of starting a website called Hippy
Boaters. (All laugh)
That's great. I was going to ask you if you were
diversifying but it looks as though your customers
are telling you where to go by virtue of their
It's difficult because just being the two of us
there's so much that we want to do and so many
designs that we want to do. But we're so busy doing
what we're doing now and, of course, trying not to
forget that we have a family and doing those other
things too. (Laughs) We
would be doing that Hippy Boaters...
When it comes up to election time again you can do
God, yes that will be brilliant.
We had a Tory MP contact us to ask us if we can do
stickers for their campaign and we said "Sorry,
no." We don't want to get political. If it were
The Green Party we might have thought twice.
We could do a CND sticker to spoil your ballot paper
with! That would be good.
I actually spoilt my paper last time but not
intentionally. It wasn't a political statement - I forgot
my glasses so ticked the wrong box and then realised
so had to sabotage the paper. (All laugh) Silly old
They asked me afterwards "What did you vote?"
And I said "I didn't, I spoilt my ballot
paper." And she looked horrified.
What gives you the most pleasure about running
The feedback and response from clients really. When
people send us photographs of what they've done.
Is there much competition?
Loads of people do car stickers.
If you go on eBay you'll find plenty of flower car
stickers but there's no-one doing it properly. I
think people who do it on eBay have a screen printing
business and do it to make a little extra cash whereas
this is what we believe in and something we did
ourselves. So, for us, there's very little
Also, the very foundation of Hippy Motors is
different and we didn't start up to run a business.
The business has happened to us, if you see what I
We have gone with the flow.
Yes, we have. People have asked us and we've made
these for them and that's how we've ended up selling
because we've met that demand. So when you look at
our website, the thing we want to put across is that
we're not a faceless business. We are a family and
we make stickers for people and are having a lot of
fun doing it.
I picked up on that as soon as I went on your site.
It's a very friendly site and there's some amusing
stuff about the 'big organisation' behind it. It was
obvious that you were real human beings. You can
tell when you go into some websites that they're
really trying not to communicate with people. I hate
It can have a downside because I got a call at 10:30
the other night and we were going to bed and the
lady had clearly had a few drinks! We've had
people who want to place orders at 11:00.
I suppose you get people who don't think.
We've had a few people who have had a drink and then went
onto our website and give us a ring!
What are the main things people need to know and
consider when choosing/ordering your decals and
stickers? Are there any technical requirements or should
people just go for it?
We would say just go for it. The thing to bear in
mind is, as a business, we always support people so
they can always give us a call and ask for any
advice. Also they do come off, as well, so if you
heat them up with a hairdryer then you can take them off.
The other thing to remember is that from that day
forward, if you do a big spread, you will never be ignored
again on the motorway.
People hooting at you?
You get recognised. You're not anonymous anymore.
Waving and hooting. What we get wherever we go people are
smiling. Down the motorways, people pass the car
with the peace symbol and smile, kids are hanging
out of cars waving. And it's just wonderful. So
that's the thing to remember. If you're going to
Hippify your car, then you will be recognised and
people are going to smile at you.
And a big improvement on those stupid window stickers
that you get in novelty shops.
Some of these nasty stickers that you can get. The
world's bad enough and you don't need that. Just
make everyone happy and add a bit of colour.
In your ideal world, what do you see as the future for Hippy Motors?
Well, at the moment we're talking to Halfords.
So we're setting up a separate business which is
wholesale and hopefully we'll be able to supply people
like Halfords, but what we're really keen on is not
to sell out. We'll never become faceless, we'll
always be honest and we will never make a big profit
because that's not what it's about.
Would they have a stand in their shops with a
variety of your best or favourite lines on it?
Yes, just a few of our best lines. We're getting
some good feedback from Halfords right now. So
there's that side of the business which is getting
serious because I'm packing my job in as a teacher.
Wow. Well, there's nothing wrong with making money from the
business and it doesn't have to be the be all and
end all. I had a highly paid job in IT, similar to
Angela, but I'd prefer to be doing what I'm doing
now although the money is a lot less. I don't miss
it. But you have to have a profitable business. The
Halfords thing sounds great.
Yes, we hope if comes off. We have to work out all
the details and it's complicated. It's whether we
want to do it.
Yes, it's probably us that would turn them down
rather than the other way around, to be honest.
We've also got a Spanish website which is run by our
own friend. (Digger and Angela rattle off some
(Laughs) The problem is my mother's Portuguese and I speak
Spanish so my Spanish is grammatically dreadful.
You speak Spantuguese!
So our friend's running the Spanish website for us.
Is the idea to sell to Brits over there or to everybody?
What it is - it's that we're doing the British
website and she was struggling to find a job, bless
her. She's actually Russian but speaks perfect
Spanish so I said "Why don't you run a Spanish
one?" So we've set her up and now she's
separately running her own Hippy Motors EspaŮa
website. It's all the same stuff as us but for the
Spanish market. I could do the Spanish market but
I'm just so busy I've got no chance. I'm going to
try and set up a French one next year, though.
And run it from here?
Yes, yes, run it from here. The postal service is
good so sending stuff from here to Spain is actually
quicker than the Spanish postal service internally. Because
they treat anything international with priority.
Oh, I see. It just sounds like it could be a huge
thing worldwide. Maybe franchising?
We'd like to franchise America and Australia and
that's what we're kind of half-heartedly trying.
It would be. We started very small so it's just
making sure that if people want to start this too as
a franchise then
it would take a few years to build up. You can
imagine, you see a car with flowers on and you
probably never thought to put flowers on your car.
And so you have to see it so many times before you
actually get the idea yourself. And that's what's
happening. You've got ten people who've got flowers
and slowly you get a hundred people who've got flowers
and it's just expanding. Because of the amount of people
who see that car every day. The impact of it is lovely
and the visual impact is there for all to see. If
you buy a new sofa only your friends and family see
it but if you decorate a car then everybody sees it.
It's a big impact but it's just putting that seed of
an idea into people's heads. That's why it would be
a very slow thing to begin with in other countries.
America and Australia have close cultures to us so I
think it would go down well.
They're very beach-based.
Yes. That sounds perfect.
We do already have quite a few customers in
Australia. We love sending out there and also
Tasmania. So we think maybe we should have a
business trip out to Australia.
And why not? Do the fifty American States tour as well.
I'd always like to do that.
Yes, well we're looking at a few sites in America
that I've always wanted to see.
Another incentive for getting the Halfords deal
It is. That would be really nice.
Great talking to you both and catch up face to face in Spring.
Bye for now.
Thanks Digger. Bye.
Angela and Matt Whittaker and we started designing
and making our own car stickers 6 years ago because
we wanted to brighten up our own car. Now, I am
offering my service to all you people out there who
are tired of driving conventional looking vehicles,
so you can do the same.
MIXED BED Flowers and VINES, Daisies, Gerberas,
Wizz, Fab FLOWERS, Hibiscus, Poppy, Sunflower &
pre-made FLOWERS, GIANT FLOWERS, TINY stickers for
Bikes, laptops etc., Leaves, stems and grass,
Butterfly, dragonfly, bee, ladybird, spider, GIANT
DESIGNS, GECKOS, Pandas, cats, paws, fish, horses
and more, Fairies, Angels and mermaids, Goddess,
Kokopeli, Greenman, Unicorn, Gaia, Accessories -
curls, swirls etc., Sun, Moon, Star, Rainbow,
Snowflake, cloud etc., Sun Catchers, BANKSY &
ANTI- ESTABLISHMENT, Spots, Hearts, Waves, Hands,
Feet, Bubble etc., Hippy Driver, Biker, Skier etc.,
Peace Love Anti-War, VW, Multipla and Bus stickers,
Symbols - Buddhist, Celtic, Egyptian, Hindu etc.,
Music stickers, Hippy Sayings and other phrases,
Movies, TV, Games, Superheroes, Your FAMILY in
stickers, Tribal, Skulls and skates, Fruity
stickers, Crash Dummies, Hippy Motors gifts and
VOUCHERS, Custom NAMES and Promotional banners,
OCEANIA, Maori, Polynesian