Some moments are nice, some are
nicer, some are even worth writing about.
And that’s what I’m about to do. Write about a specific moment.
The past weeks have been a bit slow to be honest. Impatient as I am, I’m waiting for some news on how to develop my first product. I have these irritations that pop up when waiting, which often leads to me canceling certain choices or alter decisions. But this time ’round, patience is a virtue.
I was trying to remember when I had that first key moment in which I realized I truly wanted to create something. I’ve always had some ideas on product development, but never very clear or focused. When I moved to China in the summer of 2012, I arrived with a purpose: create a pure product, crafted in China.
Over the years I’ve seen many factories, mills and independent artisans, all outside of China. I refused to believe that skill & craft were not to be found in China, no way that traditional techniques could’ve disappeared during their transition into a global super-economy.
So there I was, in the humid heath of Dongguan. A factory town with zero inspiration and millions of people. A proper wake-up call into Chinese reality, one might say.
Seeking for ways to get inspired, I decided to get out there and find my peace amidst the pagoda’s and shrines in the nearby park. I’ve always been interested in Buddhism and to blend in with the locals and get a clear mind on where I wanted to go with my thoughts, well it was quite energizing.
I started sketching some products, and please take note that I suck at drawing and designing. But it was a start or, in retrospect, my key moment. I knew I wanted to create things, build something from the ground up. A brand, a legacy, call it what you like.
Driven by my passion to discover the crafts of China, I contacted people in the industry that could perhaps hook me up with designers, mills or factories. I finally got some specific details to a weaving mill in a city nearby where I lived, and this was a mill I thought would be impossible to find in China.
So in the spring of 2013 I took the bus to Guangzhou, which is about a one-hour drive from Dongguan and met up with the owner of the mill. We took off in his car and after a while I found myself on the outskirts of the city, wondering what on earth I could possibly find here.
The gates opened. A shabby, brick & mortar building rose from the dust. I stepped out of the car and could hear the deafening sound of machines nearby. I recognized that sound. The sound of the iconic shuttle looms that weave the most wonderful fabrics with the melodies of Mozart during a death metal concert.
I’d never expected to find such a wonderful mill in China, but it truly blew my mind away. Here I was, standing amidst a good 30 or so vintage shuttle looms of both European and Chinese make. I was mesmerized to discover this local, holy grail. It was at that moment I knew for sure: I’m going to create my vision someday.
I left the factory with a mind full of ideas and a bag of fabric samples, and loads of information from the mill-owner. Finding this gem in China, where they still weave fabrics the good ol’ way, it gave me that final push into the direction I’m still following to date. However, since that moment I haven’t created one single garment.
You might wonder why. And so do I…
Getting from A to B isn’t about getting their the quickest way possible. It’s about getting there eventually, and discover the various roads of your journey along the way. And I’ve taking on some roads, for better and worse.
A couple of months after the visit to the mill, I left China and returned to Europe. Personal circumstances made me take some hard decisions and the actual journey that I’m still following now, started. Back in Europe I returned to retail-management for various companies and started investing in myself by discovering my ‘why‘.
Over the past three years I’ve learned so much and failed more than I liked. And it’s that failure that makes my vision more clear everyday. A wise man once said:
There is no progress without struggle.
And trust me when I say, that every challenge you take on in life will eventually encounter struggles. Big or small, but they will come. And that’s okay. Because it makes your beliefs stronger, your desire to overcome obstacles will grow and your vision will become more and more clear. So when you’re faced with struggle, keep in mind that it’s just a tool being handed to you to finetune your vision.
So my journey, filled with decisions, had it’s key moment in 2013. And now this journey is taking some leaps forward, as by the end of this article my guy in Italy replied. The creation of a legacy is about the begin. Time to start crafting a scene…