Sunday, May 3, 2009

My father's shoes just don't fit...

My father is a great salesman. A man with incredible talent. He's been working as a salesman in the furniture industry for over 40 years. He's simply the best "pitch man" I've ever heard! His customers are always mesmerized as he walks them through his showroom, presenting the season's new collections with great ease, passion, and professionalism. He's known for tapping his big diamond pinkie ring on the doors of the dining room china cabinets to bring attention to the detail in the glass. His shoes are always spit polished, and not the tiniest wrinkle can be found in his suit and tie.

My mother on the other hand is a "creative". She is the queen of arts and crafts. She could take any old scraps of paper, and turn them into a playful work of art. She would spend hours in the basement in the 70's making terrariums with colored sand in fish bowls. Remember those? Today she still spends her free time surrounded by hundreds of jars full of beads and stones as she creates the next pieces of beautiful jewelry.

As I was growing up, I was being groomed to be a carbon copy of my father. While all the other kids in school were wearing corduroy pants and tan construction boots, I was wearing perfectly ironed slacks and "loafers" with tassels on them. But there was one big problem. It just didn't feel right. In fact, I used to pack my school bag with corduroy pants and tan construction boots, and change into them behind my neighbor's house. It's amazing I wasn't arrested! All through my teenage years, and into my 20's I was a total rebel in disguise. I had a whole secret wardrobe complete with black combat boots and a leather motorcycle jacket. I had a tattoo I kept hidden under my neatly pressed dress shirts. What a pain in the ass that was!

In my late 20's and early 30's, I did indeed follow in my father's footsteps. I became a very successful salesman, and later a successful sales manager in the furniture industry. I was making an incredible living. Life was pretty good on the surface. But the real truth was...I hated it! Nothing felt right. And money and titles were not buying happiness! I wanted to do something creative with my life. I had a long time dream, and just had no idea how to go about realizing it. I just believed it wasn't in the cards for me. My life path was set, and that was it.

Then one day I accepted a job with a small "up and coming" Italian leather sofa manufacturer. My job was V.P. of Sales & Marketing, and my task was to launch the company onto the American market. The owner was the principle designer. The product was very beautiful, and the details were executed with great precision. I spent the first three months at the factory in Italy helping him get the collection ready for America. One day he was leaving for a two day business trip to the U.K., and I asked him if it was OK for me to work with the graphic artist on an idea I had for a sofa. He agreed and left for his trip. I went to work on visualizing the idea in my head, and after two days of struggling with the artist who spoke no English, (my Italian was very basic at best) I had created my first furniture design. Those two days changed my life forever! The sofa was made, and it actually sold!!

Since then I've never looked back. I took off my loafers, business suits, and my ties. I rolled up my sleeve to proudly display my tattoo, and began to follow my real dreams. I've been designing ever since. Furniture of course, but also my home, motorcycles, the way the dinner table was set, and anything else I can get my hands on. I've even modified my own clothes. I now live my life with great passion and happiness. I will always believe if you can dream it, you can do it. And, I have no regrets for starting so late. I've learned so much from from every experience, and I carry it all forward with me in everything I do.


Anonymous said...

ha - the cords and the boots! Upper Darby Haute Couture. We never knew you were smuggling tassled loafers.


DesignTies said...

Thank you for sharing your story. It's so inspirational -- and funny too!! Did your parents ever find out you were an undercover cords-and-tan-work-boots wearer?? :-)

I'm a firm believer in being yourself and doing what you love. Or at least doing everything you can to be doing what you love!! You never know when or how or why your life-changing opportunity will come along -- which is why you have to take hold of every opportunity that comes your way, in case that's THE ONE!! And never be afraid to try :-)


Brillante Home Decor said...

What a great story.I laughed visualizing you in Italy trying to explain your ideas. Obviously you succeeded!

Anonymous said...

I find your story quite interesting and useful to anyone who wants to overcome challenges, and to myself too. I have realised that you can do whatever you dream if you have passion, patience and high determination.

Anonymous said...

It was certainly interesting for me to read this blog. Thank author for it. I like such themes and everything that is connected to them. I would like to read a bit more on that blog soon.

Dc shoes said...

Well, what you said, I also have very much the same feeling, wish we can together to discussion!

Isabel De Yzaguirre. said...

Nice story, Robert!