“I suppose the best brand is just being yourself.”-Higgins, from Ted Lasso
Although I am headed to New Orleans tomorrow, for the past few months and for the foreseeable near future, my world has been and will be a tiny little, beautiful, maybe five mile triangle in coastal Mississippi. Gulf of Mexico to Golf Course, rinse and repeat. It’s a little confining if you compare it to the massive exploits of my last four plus years, but I’ve also learned a few tricks along the journey.
First off, nature is not confining, and that’s where I operate most of the time. Nature is limitless.
More importantly, prioritizing self-expression: expressing myself all of the time, how I want, without pretending, is the ultimate freedom. I’ve learned to do that in a lot of ways (writing being one), but 1A is still through individual fashion and style.
Every morning, I ruffle through a handful of exotic belts, handmade bracelets, limited edition hats, and who knows what to start my relationship with the day. I don’t drink coffee, so I prefer to design something beautiful instead.
It used to be suit, shoes, shirt, and tie, but now it’s belt, hat, shirt, and bracelets. Same premise. Same pizzazz. Same quality. Just different.
I loved my navy suits, my cognac shoes, my buttery soft shirts, my Hermès ties. It was my way of speaking to the world every day. I now love my snakeskin belts, my camo rope hats, my transfusion shirts, and my arsenal of bead bracelets. It is still my way of speaking to the world every day.
Most every piece I have or had tells some kind of story. If I wore a certain double breasted pinstripe suit in the past, it must have been Closing Day, and that’s a different kind of mindset type of day. If I wear a certain pair of white pants now, it must be White Pants Day (tomorrow), and that’s a different kind of mindset type of day.
Mixing and matching it all, for me, is just like singing, painting, or dancing for someone else. It’s art. It’s how I talk to the world. It’s taking the rules and recommendations that someone else arbitrarily invented and blowing them up. Brown shoes with a red and white belt? Sounds perfect. As an article in Esquire recently said, What if, instead of nodding to the past, you want to charge headlong into a future of your own design?
As abk has developed and I have become more adept at articulating my experiences, it has become clear to me that the brand has never been about luxury items or expensive things. I don’t need to be the first to get something or have the latest iPhone. Don’t get me wrong, I have some cool things, but it’s usually not about the thing. It’s about using that thing to talk with the world. My new house tells a story. My new belt tells a story. My new beads tell a story. My tattoos tell a lot of stories.
abk, in its early years, was my attempt to discover 100% me. Now, it’s about me being 100% me 100% of the time. It’s the ultimate freedom: saying everything I want to say without uttering a single word.
Have a great week.-Benj
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