This is my first blog post.
I've just started working on this website, so it'll be a few months before anyone has a chance to read this. I feel like I'm about to start a whole new phase of my life. I'm super excited, and a bit scared at the same time.
To do things right, I need to clear out my past first. Remember all my disappointments and let go of them completely. Remember the path that brought me to this moment here and now. Start fresh.
I suppose a good place to begin this reflection is the summer of 2003, when I had my first overseas backpacking experience.
At that time I was living quite a comfortable life in Slovenia. I had an IT job that paid really well and didn't require too much effort, a girlfriend that thought I was great, harmonious relationships with my family and friends. Nothing to complain about, really. I did feel, however, that there was something missing.
That summer I took one month off work and headed to Thailand by myself. I did lots of mindless partying and things that I'm not necessarily proud of today, but in the moments of sobriety my mind was opening in a way that I hadn't experienced before. I literally had the feeling of my head being physically opened at the top and all this new information and perspective was entering me.
One major thing that I realised on this trip was that there were many people who had this free backpacking lifestyle of just travelling here and there, than working a little bit, then travelling again. And how free these people were compared to me. I never used to meet these kinds of people in my original environment. I didn't know life could be that way. And I realised that I too wanted to have this kind of lifestyle.
I stayed at my old job for two more years, saving money for my breakaway. What I was going to do was considered very strange for almost everyone in my life. But I had no doubts. I resigned from my job, sold my car, said my goodbyes, and went off into the unknown.
The first six months were quite uncomfortable. I was travelling alone, and people were responding to what they saw in me on a moment to moment basis. This was very different to the relationships I had at home, where I could maintain an image of myself and surround myself with people who helped support that image. An image that I was now realising was fake. My ego was falling apart, and that hurt.
About half of a year into the trip, I reached Thailand. This time around I had no interest in partying. After just one night in Bangkok I took a night bus and then a boat to the remote island of Koh Phangan, the highlight of my previous Thailand trip. The place where I had decided to make this big change in my life.
As soon as I got there I knew that I was home. I needed to travel half of the planet to realise that.
On Phangan, the collapse of my ego continued. My entire worldview was shifting in such a strong way that at times I thought I was going to end up in a mental institution. But the process never got out of hand, and there was something in me that kept me going. I was allowing my old identity to die so that a new one could emerge. This super intense transformation lasted for a couple of months.
My life has never been the same since. Everything changed. My beliefs, my thoughts, my relationships, my diet, even my physical appearance. Meditation and personal development became the main focus for me. The only thing to do here, really.
The next few years were all about transformation. I did many meditation retreats, yoga, even joined a university course in 'Consciousness and Transpersonal Psychology'. It was a great time, but also full of challenges. Personal transformation is never easy, at least in my experience.
At a certain point, I realised that I needed to confront my livelihood issue again. Yes, meditation was the most important thing in my life, but did that mean I was going to become a monk? No, I wasn't ready for that. Besides, I was becoming more and more interested in the tantric approach to spirituality, and to psychedelic experiences.
At about the same time I kept meeting two cool Thai guys who were selling 'Thai fisherman pants'. I've seen this type of shorts before, of course, since they're very popular in Thailand, but I was never much attracted to them. Theirs were different, however. The cut was slightly narrower which made them look better on most people, and they came in all these funky colors and patterns.
After a while, their fisherman pants were all I was wearing. They fit perfectly into the free lifestyle I was having. The parties, the jungle walks, the motorbike rides... No shirt, no shoes, no underwear. The pants were the only thing on my body.
I kept visiting the two men selling them, looking for new colors and patterns. "Why don't you make bright green ones?" I must have bought close to twenty pairs from them, and bringing all my friends there to show them those cool pants.
During a silent meditation retreat it came to me. These pants were going to be the source of my livelihood. It made perfect sense. I absolutely loved the product, they were good value, and there was a lot of room for me to play with my creativity. I would make them even nicer by using better fabric, making small improvements, choosing the right colors and patterns.
So I did it. The brand was called 'Fissshy', eluding to 'fisherman pants'. I had no previous experience with running a business, so it was quite a challenge, but somehow everything worked out. I ordered my first thousand pieces and shipped them to Europe. At first, I wasn't quite sure how I was going to sell them. But things kept happening naturally and I found myself building my first website.
By the end of that season I managed to sell about a half of my initial stock. Not as good as I had hoped for but not bad either, especially since almost all of the sales were made in the tiny market of Slovenia. A market that wasn't even a good match for this product due to the cold climate and an the 'tightness' of the local culture.
I spent the next winter in Thailand. Recharging my batteries, producing a new batch of 'Fishies', and, most importantly, mentally and emotionally envisioning the success of the next season. I also felt that I really wanted to have a partner in this. Not so much for business reasons, but mostly to have someone to share the emotions of success and failure with.
Well, it all happened.
One of my best friends approached me, saying how much he liked the project, and that he and his wife would like to join. Almost as soon as we began the partnership, the sales started to go through the roof. For most of that season, the main challenge was being able to produce enough pants to meet the demand. And we were still selling almost exclusively in Slovenia.
In order to really make it big, we needed to open other markets. My focus turned into building an effective and reliable supply chain, building a new 'professional' website, doing all the paperwork right in order to avoid any problem with the taxes, duties...
And soon I realised that much of the joy that made me start the whole thing was gone. I could hardly make any important decision without consulting my business partners, and many times we disagreed. I felt trapped. The essence had been lost. It wasn't long before business results started to deteriorate dramatically.
We struggled for a while, tried different ways to save the business and our relationship. In the end, I decided to leave. I expected to get some kind of financial retribution for everything that I had invested into the project, but it never happened. My dream turned into a nightmare. A heartbreaking disappointment.
It took me quite a while to really get over the failure, to accept it completely. In the years that followed, I found myself doing that old IT job again, I got married and divorced, I went back to the life that I thought I was done with. And in a way, this relapse into Babylon was quite liberating. It was what I had feared the most, ever since I had left the first time.
I suppose we can never be free of that which we haven't totally accepted.
Going back to my old life made me understand that it's not something to be afraid of. And letting go of the whole 'Fissshy' story made room for a new beginning. A new project.
So here it is. EyeGee's Jungle Pants. "Same, same, but different", as they say in Thailand. No partners this time. No big business b.s. No pressure. No compromises. I'll make it exactly the way I like it, and let it grow organically.
So far, so good. It's making me happy and that's all that matters.
Thanks for reading this long post. I'd love to hear your story, or just any feedback...