Thursday, July 19, 2012

Move over Uncle Karl.

I'm exhausted but can hardly relax. 

Today was one of the most inspiring days I’ve experienced in a long, long time - one of the days when the dots that you never even really knew were dots suddenly connect.  I left the favelas with so many ideas, so much inspiration, so many emotions…humbled. empowered. scared. head running in so many different directions that my two-hour hustle home rushed by in 3 minutes I swear. I put today in the top 3 insane life-changing experiences to date (following the moment I fled the chivilcoy factory on a bicycle and a certain dawn in industrial istanbul).

view from my classroom window. [complexo do alemao]

Today was the first day that I taught my own class (in Portuguese, never mind that I don't speak it) in sustainable jewelry design in the favela of Complexo do Alemao, Rio de Janeiro. The raw talent and curiosity of the students…the colors of the favelas themselves…the uneasiness I feel walking in the streets in contrast with the comfort I feel in the classroom…my awkward communication skills...the beautiful views of all of city of Rio from the teleferico…the fact that my DNA clone will soon be joining to experience this with me :)....tudo is unexplainable, but tudo e otimo. 

I’ll take a few steps back. I grew this semi strange idea to come to work in the favelas from an entrepreneurial project I started up with a team back at IESE last fall. Actually it goes much further back than that, starting with a minor obsession circa 1999 that a twin sister that will remain nameless had with Nelly Furtado. Back to the business plan. The idea was to sell fashionable accessories made in favelas of Rio to the US and Europe to both give exposure to this community's talent and just share really cool products with the world. The semester ended and that was that. When I super luckily landed a job that even more luckily started in September, I found myself with a summer to play with. After talking with a mainstream hippie about his adventures traveling solo throughout the world and hearing how rewarding his experience was I knew that adventure chasing was exactly what I was craving. My life in Barcelona as spoiling and amazing as it was became far too cushy and I wanted to be shaken up. Sure I had moved to other countries on my own before, but always with the parachute of an organization, a company or at least the company of a friend (or twin). But for some reason this time it wasn’t good enough. On my last hoorah before potentially signing my life to the coroporate world I wanted more. and BAM! last semester's entrepreneurship project jumped into my brain and BAM! here I am.

walk to work today. [complexo do alemao]

Fast forward to the present. I left the Complexo today with a need to share my experience. Maybe I will decide to share these words with no one, but in some form I hope I am able to find a way to communicate or at least live my experience in a way that might slightly shift the perspective of those in my path. A special shot of enlightenment is directed at the adventure-fearers and media absorbed gente who think the favelas are and should remain out of sight and out of mind. But, even more importantly, I want to enlighten the fashionistas. Karl I love you DEARLY, but all honors and accolades aside, you are not the only talent out there. Genius design does not only come off the catwalks of Mercedez-Benz Fashion Week or from the perfectly tailored cuts coming out of Saville Row boutiques. FASHION IS IN THE FAVELAS. I swear. I saw it today.

Fashion is freedom to express yourself exactly how you want to.
Fashion is the inspiration to create something out of nothing.
Fashion has nothing to do with a price tag.
Fashion is a passion for the beautiful.
Fashion is rooted in individuality.
Fashion is innovation.
Fashion has an attitude.
Fashion is not just a luxury brand.
Fashion does not follow mass trends.

today's class' new sustainable creation: statement necklace from old Vogues and retired buttons.
[gross desk in my room, copacabana]

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