If there’s anything I’m grateful for, it’s that when we started this brand, social media didn’t permeate our culture and taint our expectations of achievement. There was no Tumblr to inspire eternally, no Twitter to unfurl humblebrags, no Instagram to throw a rosy filter on an endless scroll of personal successes. The Internet has manifested into everyone’s own glossy highlight reel; it misleads and distorts, obscuring the truth – which is that not all is as easy and accelerated and bedazzled as a Popular Page moment. What you often don’t see are the hard parts, the trials and tribulations, the self-doubt, the frustration… What you miss is the meat – the years of massive failures and preventable screw-ups, the faint triumphs that no one else sees, and the searching and blind diligence as you adventure infinitely into the unknown.
On my flight up to San Francisco, I sat next to this unassuming kid from Arizona. His name was Chris, he wore a much-loved, navy Johnny Cupcakes T-shirt, and he was trekking up to the Bay on the hunt for a job and a future. Chris – as he explained it – is a creative person and although he first told me his background’s in music, by the end of our flight, I learned about all these other things he had his hands in, from charity work to design. He lit up when he talked about his passions, so I could tell his heart was in it. But he also sank at not finding immediate and resounding success, with his hard work unmet and a vacuous, daunting life an open-ended question sprawling before him. Chris is only 22.
The next few days as I interacted with other fans and supporters of ours in SF, I picked up on a similar vibe. Young, brave spirits teeming with drive and genius, but panting after short-term rewards, balking at long-term gains. They didn’t entirely know what they wanted, they just knew they wanted it now. And the more the Internet piled on others’ accomplishments, the further they felt separated from their goals.
I think we live in this really special time when you can envision anything and go out there and do it. It used to be called the “American Dream,” but the web has globalized that hope, planting seeds of freedom in thought and soul around the world. You can do anything, you can do it all at once! It’s like an entrepreneurial gold rush, where creativity and capitalism are racing hand-in-hand. Homeless singers rising to overnight stardom in China, the coolest fashion brand emerging from the Parisian suburbs, a brilliant invention sprung from the mind of a 12-year-old. It’s happening to everyone. They’re all getting ahead. Just not Chris. Just not you.
Or so the Internet likes to tell it. And disfigure it. Is there anything more tragic than the web showcasing rampant epidemic success, while simultaneously cultivating the youth to be impatient and fickle? To show us that it can be done, but cheat us of the very vehicle to get us there?
And that is Patience.
It takes time. Rome wasn’t built in a day. And neither are Streetwear labels. Or rap careers. Or photography portfolios. Yet Time is most notably forsaken amongst all the skilled young designers I meet, the brand upstarts, and the culture-shakers. They’re all equipped with the same programs, social networks, the same hunger… But the asset that’ll starkly divide the stargazers from the shooting stars? Patience. Who amongst you is willing to drill mindlessly into your projects, scorn winnings, bathe in defeat, watch years fall off as you chase the horizon? Who of you understands that Passion is nothing without Patience, and vice versa? And that part of success is appreciating the deep, limitless journey in and of itself?
Whatever it is that calls and beckons you, dressed in an intoxicating perfume of passion, it is not something to be won or bought or even owned. It’s something to be pursued and studied and shaped. Success develops, it is but a mirage. Once you accept that, then your objective will fall in focus, you’ll take the time to navigate your dreams with care and forethought and deliberation. You’ll enjoy the ride.
Ben and I were 23 when we started even thinking about working on something together. It took us an entire summer to come up with 5 T-shirts. Years passed before we could even pay ourselves. Over a decade later, we still consider The Hundreds smalltime and amateur, although social media might convince you otherwise. We’ve barely made a dent in our overall mission, there are miles to go before we sleep, and we are hungrier now than when we were toiling away in my 1-room studio.
Success in any field is an even recipe of passion and patience: Passion: of the heart. Patience: of the mind. Over a decade later, I’ll tell you the best part about both is that they continue to grow and mature – if you let them.
Hang in there, Chris, you’re doing just fine. And I’ll see you later. Much, much later.