The Holland Tunnel is not in Porto nor Portugal. The Holland Tunnel runs under the Hudson River and connects New York to New Jersey. When traveling to Porto your only change of a direct flight is by way of Newark Airport in Jersey. As I sat in the Holland Tunnel en route to Newark I watched as time simultaneously flew by and stood still. At a certain point it became inevitable that I would miss my flight. I sat there in the back of my cab and vied for telephone service in order to get TAP Airlines on the phone. I argued to no avail with the belief that a voice computer system could somehow hear the desperation in my voice. Call it common sense, but as a tip, never take the Holland Tunnel during rush hour.
24 hours later and with a new ticket in hand I was finally on my way. For many of years I was untraveled and naive to the wonders of the world, specifically within my own world of manufacturing clothing. Though Knickerbocker was a factory born brand built on community and inclusivity - I now finally understood that my original philosophy of strictly manufacturing in America was inadvertently exclusive. My ideals on production standards, sustainability and humanity have always been the same but they were underdeveloped with little knowledge of the opportunity outside of my own backyard. I’ve since had the opportunity to visit many of countries and probably 100’s of factories. This journey was the culmination of all that. A moment of growth and a turning point for my own ideals in relation to the goals of the the brand. Knickerbocker is a business, but for myself it is much more personal than that. It is how I communicate my own being with others. It is an ongoing adventure filled with revelations, heartaches and successes. All the emotion a human may encompass, Knickerbocker encompasses the same.
As I sat in the plane I couldn't help but think how I got here. Travel is a funny thing you know. It is like a good song. At first a small heartbeat and the more you feel it...well...the more you become engulfed in it. To breathe we take for granted but to feel your heartbeat, it teaches you something irreplaceable; to love, to be curious, to cherish each moment and to never stop chasing this itch of a feeling.
So, you scratch this itch and the journey begins. For the most part you don't think to much about where you are going. Something tells you it is the right thing to do. That is the beauty of the places you will go. They will keep pointing you any which direction. You may not know why, you just know you could not have got there without having been somewhere else first.
'Somewhere else' can be both literal and metaphorical. Simply put, you do not have to go to hell to feel it and that can make you feel grateful enough alone. Hell is not what I felt. I felt growth and for that feeling I was extremely grateful.
In my trials thus far, it has taught me one thing - always bet on yourself but remember it is the company you keep that makes the difference. For what good is anything alone if you don't have someone to raise your glass with at the end of the day. I believe this is true in relationships and in business.
Throughout my trip as I shook hands and broke bread with factory owners, their loved ones and their workers one thing became clear to me. I came to understand that I was not losing the community and the company I kept back home. Rather, it was the opposite.
I believe it would be a shame to not look beyond borders in building a community. The goal is to produce the best in a sustainable fashion that you can be proud of. In order to do so you are required to have the mindset of a global community. My hopes are that standards domestically will improve by working with others and taking a few notes out of the pages from other countries. Without manufacturing you lose innovation and without innovation you lose creativity. To hold onto these ideals, we had to rethink community and I'm damn glad we did.