Part of my youth i lived in a very smal village with, at the time, as little as 5000 inhabitants. In the center of that village there were three bakeries and four butchers, apart from other very local entrepreneurs. My dad still lives there and even though the village must be three times the size it was back then, there is only one bakery and there are two butchers. The others are absorbed by two big grocery stores. The bakery that is left is not local, it is just a branche from a big chain of bakeries.
Walking through the high streets of western countries it is no different. These streets are built on H&M, Zara, McDonalds and the rest of the familiar mass retailers. The shop clerks and the location differ, but the store concepts are exact copies of the next one. Considering this, retail doesn’t give us a good reason not to shop online.
Walking the streets of Manhatten, the center of commercialism, you get the very same sense. Every big brand must have at least 5 stores that are exactly the same, dotted around the city. This feels out of place. I am in a city thousands of miles away from home, yet retail shows the same face, a face with a total lack of sex- appeal. In this time of crisis we want value for our dollar. Opening your wallet in one of these concept- clones feels like an unspirational waste of money.
Making a living passionately
Browsing through Chelsea Market in the Meatpacking district something instantly strikes you. There is something real about this place and it’s vendors. My personal favourite is The Lobster Place (@fishguysnyc on Twitter) which has a fish markety feel to it. Their slogan “We stink of fish and we love it” breathes a kind of passion dearly missed in modern day mass retailing. Passionate as they are about fish, they know their way around marketing too. Not because they have a degree in marketing, but because they do what they like to do best. And it works, enthusiasm seems to rub- off on people.
Fast forward a month or so I came across a guy on the internet, his name is Roy. Roy originally started out making clothes and admittedly didn’t know what he was doing. He met people that were gatekeepers of a lost art, the art of making denim. This art was performed on old sewing machines and Roy was taken by art, the heritage, the story, the machinery and the craft. He started designing the perfect pair of jeans (www.roydenim.com). This was all done by hand. His passion conveyed to denim ethusiasts that started discussing his product on fora and the like. As Roy creates every pair of pants himself, his success soon outgrew his capacity. At the moment Roy is rethinking and reshaping his future and his shop is closed for a while.
No need to travel, frevor is all aroud us
This ardor is near, we just have to look closer. At work there are some colleagues that, atop Maslow’s Piramid, create and do stuff outside their daily profession. Not because they need to, but purely because they want to. Jip (www.jipjip.com) knows how to built websites, and through this craft he can now present his true passion; photography, to the world. Gijs (ww.applesapp.com) released an iPhone app and has built his own touch screen by combining a glass plate and scraping a layer of film from a webcam (see insert). Yes we can! Maarten (@korz on Twitter), an innovation manager at a Dutch bank, like many other aspiring dj’s, struts his stuf as a DJ on blib.fm.
“In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.”
Inspiration, drive and creativity has driven human beings since ‘it-all’ started. New media enables human beings to share all this. these guys, and many like them, live Warhol’s proclamation. Web- or app design, photography or dj-ism might not be your oldschool craftmanship, but it will be in a new millennium. The more people will understand the power of contemporary media, the more talent driven passion will be visible. It will make our consumption infinitely more appealing than walking the highstreets these days being attacked by the clones! For current management: “We don’t need more-, we need better things!”. In the future everyone might not be famous for 15 minutes, but anyone will be for a century.