We’d like to introduce you to Will, a 25-year-old creative from the South of London.
William is a worship leader at Hillsong Church, a photographer, and creator of Vitae London – a watch company that aims to make a lasting impact. He sat down with us to answer a few questions. Enjoy!
The purpose behind it started right after my wife went on a mission trip in 2010 with a charity called House of Wells in the vista of Port Elizabeth in South Africa. She was so moved by everything she saw that shortly after her return we started supporting the charity every month. The company came about from our need to find a more sustainable way to support them.
I’ve always been keen on fashion, so I started to investigate into the watch industry. I found some places where a lot of the big industries produce their watches. I sent them my designs and got samples back and when I was happy with the results, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to partner up for business.
A percentage of the profit goes directly to this charity to support children and their education. It provides them the basics they need to go to school. Education is free in the poorer areas of South Africa, but unless you have the resources, you can’t go. We provide the kids with two sets of school uniforms, a pair of shoes, and a school bag so that they can get to school every day.
Yes! I actually travelled to South Africa in December 2015. I was able to see a lot of the children we’ve helped first hand and meet them and hear all their stories.
I have been starting to put all of them up on our website. The biggest story is of a 10-year-old kid I met out there. His story really impacted me. At the age of seven, he saw his dad get killed before his eyes—he was stabbed to death. He now lives with his mom and is one of four children. He didn’t have good role models and was starting to be involved with gangs around the area. He couldn’t even get the basics to go to school, but luckily, through our contribution, House of Wells were able to step in and give him the resources he needed to get to school. They really helped as an encouragement to him and inspired him to get back into school, which is really amazing to hear.
I’m definitely inspired by my relationship with God. That’s what gets me up in the morning. Before what I’m doing right now, I used to work as a recruitment consultant. I was making really good money, but I realised that chasing after money wasn’t inspiring me. You end up living a life that isn’t really sustainable or enjoyable. I knew I had to do things that I would actually enjoy. I really love leading people in worship and writing songs and just creating. I also love photography. Sometimes it means maybe cutting back on a few things, but I know that I will wake up knowing that I have the freedom to do what I want to do that day and create the day I want to create, so that’s what keeps me going every day.
Honestly, it’s a big mixture. It depends on what bookings I have. Most days, I just come into the office and do a lot of my photography work. My office is near Old Street, which enables me to bring in interns and other people, as well. This location also allows me to really push my watch vision, get the word out there, and form more partnerships with retail organizations. So that’s what I spend a lot of my day doing, because all the money I make from the watches gets reinvested in the business or goes to the charity. I don’t really make money from it to sustain me or my family, so in essence, whenever a photography booking comes up, I have to honor it in order to make money to get by.
A small decision being made can impact someone’s life forever. So if we all could make a small decision to change one person, the world would be so much better! I truly believe that. It really all starts with impacting one person.
It was super random. I haven’t been doing it for that long at all. I’ve definitely been able to see God’s favor in it. A friend of mine bought a camera in December of 2014, and I decided to buy one after. I shot a few events that month: birthday parties, etc. Because I’m quite business minded, I was trying to make my shots look really good. I decided to make a website and I found myself getting wedding bookings before I ever even shot a wedding. I shot about seven weddings last year, and I have lots to shoot this year.
The fact that we have already seen the impact we made to one kid in Africa says so much. That’s all I ever wanted, really.
I think success looks different for every single person. Personally, I’m quite hard on myself, but I’d say the fact that we’ve already impacted a kid’s life, and we sold over 100 watches in our first three months. That alone was huge for me! Knowing that at least one life has been transformed, really then I could say we’ve been successful. But there’s risk in that success, as well, because if we go off of what the world sees as success, we’ll always be hungry for more and we’ll never be satisfied.
I think true success for me is actually doing what God wants me to do, and not what the world expects me to be or do, which can be very tough.
I believe faith gives purpose. I see so many phenomenal creatives, and I ask myself, ‘Why are so many Christians killing it in all creative aspects?’ Someone said to me exactly that: ‘Faith gives purpose’. That just hit home to me. If you’ve got a deeper purpose for everything you do—an eternal purpose—it’s going to impact your whole life. It’s going to change the way you seek things and the way you present things. I believe the beauty of faith is that God allows us to see beyond the world we see now. I’m not interested in just making money. I want to impact people and children by supporting the charity I support. One of the reasons I chose that organization is because they teach the gospel to children. I love the fact that these kids are going to be impacted for eternity by something as little as selling watches.