So, to recap from last week; I'm living in a homeless shelter getting back on my feet.. slowly, but surly. I'm serving those who are in an equally challenging predicament, not to mention mentally, and physically down, in a deep state of depression. In fact I don't think I uttered a single word to anyone for the first three months I was there. Anyway, one day I went to my fashion design class, and my teacher showed me how to make designs on an embroidery machine. I let her know I was interested in creating sneakers since thats the closest thing to cars that gave me the same satisfaction in designing. She told me they did not have the resources or materials to design sneakers, but still, she let me play around with the embroidery machine. So, I began to embroider t-shirts.
One day I came back to the shelter with one of my t shirts with my embroidered logo on it. One of my friends liked it and asked if he could have one as well, I said sure. Then the next day, another, and then another. Before I knew it, I was spending my entire class embroidering t-shirts to bring back to guys back at the mission. No charge, just pride and satisfaction at the idea that people were happy to wear something that I designed. No matter how simple. That was the seed that was planted.
After graduation from the program and going on to work at a luxury hotel, to which I grew personally and professionally, I gave another crack at school to get my industrial design degree. Again, working full time, going to school and burning both ends of the candle, effectively burning myself out… again. So what did I do? Fall back on bad habits.. again. I began to smoke… again. And the more small successes I experienced, the more set backs I also experienced with smoking weed to cope. Because old habits are hard to break, I suppose. They say the definition of insanity is to repeat the same act over and over and expecting a different result. Well, you could definitely say I was insane. (I just thought the first time was a fluke, go figure.)
So, right before I fell off the same cliff.. again, I did go on a trip abroad to Italy and Greece to which I had one of the most amazing experiences to date. I came back a changed person. Nothing was the same for me. Not only did I gain additional experience in another country, I also gained the confidence to believe that anything was possible. That being said, I knew my time in Colorado was concluded. I abruptly quit my job, packed my things, and after a long convo with a friend who just graduated from NYU, agreed that NY was my next stop. So off to NY I went. Though I was off to a completely new environment, I took with me a lot more than just the physical baggage, (If you know what I mean). The same toxic habits and mentality which, subsequently, landed me where I was in Denver, landed me in a very similar place in New York, albeit, not as friendly of a place. I had a mental break… again. This time instead of jail, I landed in the hospital.
"Bridge back to Life" was a Brooklyn based program for people struggling with substance abuse geared toward getting you back on your feet. In this program, you meet with a sponsor, attend weekly meetings and yes, again, do sobriety checks to track progress on getting yourself back together. If this sounds intense, imagine going through it… again! I felt like an idiot. Like a failure. I was embarrassed, ashamed, and felt as if I had failed at life. My youth was no longer an excuse for my life decisions. I was 35.
As I stated in last week's blog, authenticity is the only way. I am not stating these things for clout, sympathy, or attention, I am simply documenting my journey in hopes that it may help others that may not feel like anyone understands. I say this as a prerequisite of the next statement: I was very much contemplating suicide. I was working at a coffee shop and I would spend my lunch breaks with the suicide hotline pre dialed on my phone, with my thumb hovering over the green button to send the call, but would chicken out because I didn't know what to say, how to start, where to begin. But ironically, it would be a stranger's smile, a kind word, or the support of my roommate, that would give me just enough strength to get through the day, the morning or the night. Just enough.
Then something strange began to happen. I just kept waking up. lol. It sounds weird, but an epiphany came to me. If I wasn't supposed to be here, I wouldn't be here! No matter how hard of a day its been, each day you wake up, breathing, healthy and able.. there's a chance! The chance to do.. whatever! Yes, I was down, but I'm alive, so, I'm not out.. yet. Trust me, it was hard. But all I could do was begin. It started with getting out of bed. Putting one foot in from of the other, sometimes I felt like it took all I had just to make it out of bed, but I did. I would be extremely exhausted by the end of some days, completely spent! But I would ask myself, what's the alternative? Death? Pfft.. that's part of the deal of being here anyway! So may as well try, right? Whether you do everything or do nothing, the end result still remains the same, so may as well experience what you love, right?
Before I knew it, I was back to square one. I re-enrolled in school, not for car design, but I pivoted to Entrepreneurship in Fashion Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology, and wouldn't you know it? I completed my Bachelor's degree. My ambitions to be a car designer are not forgotten, but my goal to be my own boss as to not be set by the limitations I've experienced working for someone else supersedes that currently, and well, thats what brings you here, reading this blog. And thats the story of Buttawear: It's resilience, its perseverance, its rebirth, its growth and maturity, its pain, its beauty. It's Butta, baby!
That is the answer to the first of six questions in starting a brand. How do I sum all of that up in a short elevator pitch? Honestly.. still working on that part, but that is why I also like to add music to my blogs, because sometimes, where words fail, music, (or interviews), explain...