As we near the first of September, how do you feel? Has this summer brought intense feelings, dreams, and desires to the surface? Have you felt compelled toward a certain new direction or niche in the world? The summer seems to beckon so many to explore, imagine, and dream of the life that we are dying to live. It is important to be present to the power of these intentions. To think that five years ago I was packing a bag to spend the year in Buenos Aires, Argentina and manifest the beginnings of WalknTalk sends me reeling.
I recall being set on bringing as little with me as possible. One sport coat, one rain jacket, one journal, and one book; Be Here Now, by Baba Ram Das. I was also present to the opportunity to once again transform through the experience of learning a new language, and interacting with a new culture. That year however felt unique to the other year abroad that I had lived in Prague, Czech Republic. I felt like I was heading to Argentina to transform a facet of myself and start my career. Looking back I couldn't have been more right about that. This journal I made had one thousand pages, weighed about 7 pounds, and had it's own side satchel.
It was the second leather journal I had ever made. Two thousand handmade leather journals later, that gives me pause. When I arrived to Buenos Aires, I felt scared to be honest. Once again put outside of my comfort zone on purpose, I forced myself to grow. The intention of transforming my life with this trip seemed to manifest itself almost immediately. I met a group of artisans at an art fair, and began playing music together. We hit it off almost immediately.
One of the Bolivian guitarists said he wanted to introduce me to his brother. I wasn't sure exactly where we were going but I said "okay," and followed him. Weaving through the art fair at night, lit up with hanging light bulbs, we arrived to another artisan tent where I met a man named Ernesto. Ernesto was building a cottage on an island, and wanted my help. I was honored to be of assistance. We were to meet the next weekend at the art fair. When I arrived to see him there, a beautiful girl was sitting behind his tent. His friend whispered to me, "that woman could change your life". I sort of felt like he wasn't kidding. She happened to commentate on a radio station and invited me to audition with my guitar. The day after my audition I woke up with stars on my ceiling, completely and utterly in love.
What I didn't realize at the time was that the love I had found would become a transformational force in my life that would lead me to meditate in her ashram, build a workshop on her rooftop, and to spend the next year of my life dreaming about creating WalknTalk. Without going to far into it, this love was a reflection of the intention that I had set as I set out on my journey to transform. I believed in the possibility of discovering my life's purpose in that year, and whether or not I discovered it in its entirety, I definitely felt like I had stumbled upon the beginning of something greater that myself.
Up until that time in Buenos Aires I had been making all of my leather creations with a pocket knife, needle, and thread. Somewhere along the journey I bought three rolls of leather, my first pair of sheers, and a roll of waxed nylon thread. It was all I needed to begin the WalknTalk line. At that time WalknTalk was actually not WalknTalk. It was called Coffee Books WalknTalk.
As I began creating the journals I had this idea to stain the paper with coffee. I set up my workshop on the roof, brewed buckets of coffee, and started staining.
It was funny. Some days after the paper layed drying on the rooftops, it would blow away into the trees and onto my neighbors rooftops, or into the streets. There was a magical wind chime up there as well. The sound of it ringing always sent me dreaming and imagining, "where was all of this leading" I would ask myself.
Before I started selling the journals in the artisan fair of San Telmo in Buenos Aires, I decided that my journals had to have a purpose. My girlfriend at the time loved cats and said she would donate to a cat shelter if it were her. However, despite my deep love and affection for cats, I needed to create an association with something I really, and truly believed in. It hit me like a ton of bricks. Student Exchange!
My coffee books would WalknTalk spreading a message about personal transformation through travel and student exchange.
I should mention that my year in the Czech Republic transformed so much of my life that I almost needed a birth certificate to prove it was me when I returned to my home town in Rochester, New York. The reality of transforming through travel is real, and when coupled with intention it is transformative. I had my theme, and was ready to tell the world about it.
Over the course of the next few months I grew further and further into the intention of starting my own business, and building the brand that I had created. For my initial seed capital I sold my Fender Stratocaster for six hundred and fifty dollars in the basement of a bar in Buenos Aires. With that money I bought sixty pounds of leather, and just kept following the spirit.
At the time that was my mantra for life, and still is. Making it back to the states was the next step. I was barely able to pack my bags to leave, and hardly capable of saying goodbye to my life in Buenos Aires. I knew that the original intention had opened up a world of magical creation, but somehow it was just the beginning.
Most of my family just heard me talk about WalknTalk from then on. I was like a little kid building a treehouse. Once I got it into my head I didn't stop. The vision has lead me to explore many places outside of comfort zone, and to continue to trust the formula of traveling with intention.
The year I got back to the states I returned to prague for a visit during the new years holiday. My friends had asked me to play the opening act for a Czech singer songwriter. As I sang tune after tune something occurred to me. The entire audience was confused. Was I a czech guy who had lived in a forgeign country for a while and forgot how to speak perfectly? Perhaps I was I the son of Czech parents, or was I just a tipsy Czech guy with a lisp. I sang songs in Czech and English, and then told stories about them in Czech in between the performances. When I got off of the stage I stumbled through the crowd to the table in the back where my friends were sitting. I pulled out my infinity pad, and wrote down the phrase, Get Lost To Find Yourself. That was it! I didn't know it at the time, but that phrase was destined to be the defining slogan for my brand, and the formula for self-creation I had been trying to define.
My journey after college graduation that spring led to a series of serendipitous encounters all aiding the building and development of the brand. From meeting my graphic designer at a seven eleven at 10 o'clock at night and working until 5am the first night we met, to hiring the amish to help sew my journals, to meeting a life coach in my cafe across the street, to meeting the perfect paper supply company, it all felt like Flow.
The journey has led to the sewing of many oats, and the manifestation of much inspiration.
While I believe this is still very much the beginning of the brand, I am very grateful for the experience of our humble beginnings.
To know the power of intention, and the magic of a hand crafted leather journal is sometimes baffling. What's more, occasionally it's overwhelming to even recall all of the joy of living the journey, and building the brand.
They say that way leads onto way, as the path less travelled insinuates by Robert Frost. I am curious to see what this year's yearnings will in turn create as we approach September once more.
Wherever we are in life. Whatever the status of our gauges for measuring possibility be, by all means, sometimes our gauges work better like jets at different altitudes. Indeed, all we have to do is WalknTalk. To expand who we are, and to set the intention to Get Lost To Find Yourself.