It’s May 2011 and I’m at my wits end. I just accepted to organize a big launch event for O My Bag during Fashion Week, and the producer from India called: she absolutely can’t make the production deadline. Now that’s some bad news, because: no bags, no launch party.
To make matters worse, I am also in the midst of organizing a photoshoot highlighting the bags. A photoshoot that without the bags would be an empty affair. It takes all the stress management skills I got not to panic. How on earth am I going to pull this off? Am I going to pull this off? Or is this big bag brand idea that I have been working on for the past 15 months going to fail before it even started?
When we look at successes and accomplishments, we tend to focus on the shiny moments. The moment when everything clicks into place. The moment when the champagne flows, the goody bags shine and the confetti pops.
What we sometimes forget is that the moments where it gets hard, the moments we doubt ourselves and start to question if this thing we dream of is even possible, are far more important. It's the determination that we show in those moments that can take something that seems impossible and turn it into a reality. And believe me, the journey of building O My Bag was full of those moments.
That moment of doubt I felt in the weeks before the launch party, when it wasn’t even clear if the bags would even show up in time, that was just one of many.
The first time I visited India, I traveled with a dear friend because the initial plan was to launch a bag brand together. We saw more than 15 different producers, but none of them were suitable for the fairly made and sustainable brand we had in mind. And after we came home, my friend decided to call it quits. And even though the failed trip could have easily left me disillusioned, I only saw the potential of all that could be.
Support trade, not aid. Those words had always stayed with me after I heard them once in one of my university lectures. And those words planted a seed for the brand I wanted to build. A brand based on principles that were both simple and ambitious. Creating a demand for beautiful bags made with respect for the environment while providing the local community with a fair wage and a connection to the global marketplace.
I decided to push through, and on my next trip I found our first production partner EMA and our sustainable leather partner Patrick Lee, both partners we still work with today. I didn’t leave before the first collection was finished: 4 different bags, a wallet, and a canvas bag.
Back home, I planned a launch party and a photoshoot. I stressed about bags that would or would not arrive in time. They did. And then, on a very rainy night in July at the Baarsjesweg in Amsterdam, we successfully launched O My Bag with a big party and a fashion show. The champagne flowed. The goody bags shined. The confetti popped. A glamorous moment, made possible by a lot of less glamorous ones.
Today we have just over 100 different designs to choose from. You can find O My Bag all over the world. And this year we’re adapting to realize our boldest ambition: to become the most relevant bag brand for this decennium. Next to our natural chrome free and vegetable tanned leathers, we will introduce an alternative leather line that we 100% stand behind, partly made out of apple skin.
Challenging? No doubt. Ambitious? Maybe. But we live in a time where the challenges to preserve our beautiful planet for the future are plentiful. And I know from experience that for people with ambitious ideas and idealistic plans, the bumpy road ahead can sometimes feel overwhelming. But now more than ever, we have to rely on our determination to push through moments of doubt and take something that seems difficult or impossible and turn it into an inspiring new reality.
For the next 10 years, O My Bag will commit itself to keep pushing the limits of being a frontrunner in the fashion Industry. To keep trying to change the world. Everyday. Little by little. One bag at a time.
Thank you for being part of the journey so far. It has been the most joyous experience of my life.
Now, on to the next 10 years.