It’s hard to believe that the last time I updated this personal blog was 3 years and 5 months ago! A lot has happened in that time. The biggest thing was running a successful Kickstarter for my fashion brand Sefu.
I guess launching Sefu was also something that happened during that time! I was developing protective outerwear that looks sexy and is appropriate for hot weather. I built a design studio and workshop to develop fashion. We had a full-time seamstress, a staff photographer, a production manager, a marketing intern, and myself, the creative director and CEO. During that time I developed 20 some unique pieces of exceptional functional fashion. Then I put it all on hold to focus on The Switch Bag (which was what the Kickstarter was for).
After meeting our funding goals I entered into the hell of production and logistics that was to follow. We prepared so much in advance, knowing that producing and delivering on a Kickstarter is super hard, but even with preparation, it was grueling. Assuming the production would be finished by October of 2018 I signed up for the AltMBA. Production was delayed so I went through the AltMBA and mass production with a factory at the same time. I wouldn’t recommend that!
With the production and QA complete, I left Vietnam, my home of 8 years, and moved to Japan to be closer to my son who — goddamnit — I missed so much.
It was time to start shipping. Between Amazon UK mislabeling our SKUs, Canadian Customs holding our shipment for 3 weeks, and the USPS losing 15 customer orders, there was no shortage of challenges. My biggest goal was to get everyone their bag before Christmas. Being in Japan made it difficult since every phone call to the UK, Canada, and the USA had to be made sometime between midnight and 6 am.
We made it. But I was burnt out. I rarely left the house, except to spend time with my son. I had lost most of my momentum for Sefu, and without me watching over our design studio, things began to unravel. My business partner checked out too and started her own brand.
This brings me to the spring of 2019. My friend Brandon Sheffield visited Japan and that got me out of the house. We went shopping for suit jackets that I could wear to my Japanese divorce hearings. I started to pull myself out of a funk (post forthcoming). I decided I wanted to start a podcast and went down many rabbit holes of researching equipment. I began recording episodes in May of 2019. At this point I’ve recorded 18 episodes but I haven’t released any of them yet.
My podcast is an interview style podcast, inspired by The Joe Rogan Experience — though in terms of my setup it’s based more on the Tim Ferris podcast. I’m always bringing my kit with me in my backpack, have podcast will travel. I try to interview my guests in their natural environment — their office, their studio, or their favorite bar or cafe. Most of the people I’m interviewing are my friends, they are creative professionals living and working in foreign lands. What I love most about recording these interviews is that it forces me to get out and socialize with some of my favorite people. I live for the magical moments that happen about halfway through an hour-long interview, where we stop being so self-conscious and just start to share a moment of wisdom, inspiration, flow.
The reason I’m recording new episodes of the Design Exchange Podcast, despite the delay in launching the first episode is that you never know if this might be the last time you get to meet someone. It could be anything from moving to a different country, death, or just mismatched schedules. So I think it is best to seize opportunities as they present themselves. In fact, five of the 18 episodes already recorded were with people who have since moved to new locations!
I haven’t released the first episodes yet because I’ve been learning about audio processing and testing out many different audio editors. I’ve also been developing the branding for the podcast and learning a variety of new software as I’m transitioning away from Adobe products. Many of my episodes are not recorded in ideal sonic environments either, making it take a lot longer to develop my audio effects chain. I’ve also had mic handling noise to deal with:
All that said, the goal is to get a system down. Develop a workflow so that ideally I will be able to edit an episode within a day or two. And hey, if I can grow an audience and get some sponsors then I may even be able to hire someone to help with the productions.
What’s next? That’s really a great question. I’ve been at a crossroads for all of 2019. The larger question is whether I should look for a full-time job or continue to be my own boss and grow a company again. I could bring my protective outwear to market, there’s a backpack that I’ve been designing, and some brands I’d like to collaborate with. I also need to figure out my Japanese visa situation.
Ideally I’d like to do some consulting, let’s say 20 hours/week, so that I still have time to produce my podcast and youtube videos, as well as work on collaborative projects with brands. I have a bit of a super power — I can go into a project, or look at a product, and give expert design advice. I can see where the pieces are not fitting together and what small changes could be made that will result in improved product quality or process effectiveness.
If you know of a business or team that could use my help, please let me know!