June 2017

Do you know that dream that you always see in movies? Where the main character discovers she is naked in front of a suspicious crowd? In this dream, there is always that moment where the character realizes she is naked and the audience stares in dismay. The heart is pounding so hard it is the only thing you can hear. And then, there is the moment where you have to decide what to do next… and no matter what you do or how you react, it will probably change your life in one way or another and you will never be able to erase that instant.
Two years ago, that is exactly the feeling that accompanied me to every meeting I had. In order to enter the handbag industry and to start working in Italy, I had to go through "auditions", turning this nightmare into my reality every time. 
I went through countless meetings and no matter how much time has passed, I will never forget the first one, the one that changed my life forever.
I made plans to meet Gino, who is a leather supplier and one of the most important people in the industry, in a local bar in my village. He came especially from Florence to meet with me, so I arrived with trepidation not knowing a word in Italian and not knowing what to expect, armed with my new sketches, reading glasses and a heart full of fear mixed with hope.
Out of a small white car out came an elegant and impressive man, talking on a little old phone, with a small grin and a lot of charisma. From the moment we met, his phone didn't stop ringing and he, while running the whole world, was flipping through my sketch book. When he finally shut off his phone he started by explaining how much work I have coming. 
He asked me a series of questions, explained how the industry works, and then he asked me the scariest question of all; "Why do you want to be a handbag designer?" At the time, it was very difficult for me to understand why I had to spill my guts and expose my heart to a stranger who is examining my not so impressive sketches, leaving me naked like this and is likely to be someone who will only be my supplier. 
Nowadays I can say that Gino is much more than just my supplier. He is a guide, a friend and the first one who believed in me. As an introverted person, to your surprise I am, who is very calculated in choosing what to expose and what not, this need to be "naked" every time anew in the industry is what makes me a better designer and person. These experiences force me to give answers to questions that are hard for me to ask myself, and when I find myself forced to give reasoned answers about things hidden in my heart, I become braver and stronger every day and it reminds me what I sometimes forget, why I even came here in the first place.
Gino left and told me to come back and see him when I had all the information he asked for. Before he reentered his little white car, he threw a comment at me saying I had the fire in me in which to begin, but I should know that it is not a simple world, that it would be very difficult to succeed and that I shouldn't expect to find someone here that will make my life easier. He agreed to help me anyways and guide me along the way. He is the one who opened a door for me to the world, that until that moment I couldn't even find the address for or let alone the door itself. 
Two years later, we had a conversation and he said that if he knew then what he knows about me today, he wouldn't have told me that it is hard and that maybe it is best that I don't even try. He wouldn't have tried to cut me loose and in short that he is 'Eating his hat'. I responded that I liked challenges and that in Israel we say, "The hard part is only on the outside of the bread and we eat that too." 
Gino is one of the main reasons I am still here, fighting every day, but know I am surrounded with support and love, even if it comes wrapped in a hard shell or served as worries…
In the movie "Eat, Pray, Love", that is based on Elizabeth Gilbert's book, the character played by Julia Roberts, put it in a better way than I did when she said that she realized that there is a thing called the 'physics of the quest'. "If you're brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting, and set out on a truth-seeking journey, either externally or internally, and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue and If you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher and if you are prepared, most of all, to face and forgive some very difficult realities about yourself, then the truth will not be withheld from you." 
My journey hasn't come to an end yet, I haven't gone through all of the "auditions", and I haven't arrived yet to where my heart aspires but, I have made it through most of my "tests". I have learned more about myself and about life than I had planned and no matter what the outcome will be, the road I have gone through so far, was and still is worth every second. 
So in honor of two years of work I want to thank you Gino, for everything you have done and are still doing for me and for everything you were and still are to me. I don't know if you will ever read this, but in case you do, know, that this blog is dedicated to you. 

May you always be inspired
Sincerely yours,
Ziv Fetter