I heard an interesting talk yesterday with author Joanna Coles about her book “Love Rules.” The premise of her book is about finding real love in the digital age. These days you rarely meet the eyes of those you share space with as you walk down the street, ride the subway, or stand in line for coffee; they (and you) are staring at their phones. These little devices have turned us into walking zombies. Smartphones provide so many benefits by providing access and tools, making our too dynamic lifestyles possible. But they are also powerfully addictive and have undoubtedly changed the way we interact with each other. We seem to have ceded control to these little devices.
Joanna Coles’ message was music to my ears. I love the time she put into researching the growing trends affecting multiple aspects of society, and I am so grateful that she committed to this conversation. In the context of love, I could not agree more. Though there are no clear answers, her dedication to the topic will surely make people think and (hopefully) inspire positive change.
Joanna’s talk also got me thinking about product. Over the years, I have tried again and again to articulate why I am so passionate and committed to using 100% hand painted original artwork in the products I create. From a business perspective, it makes very little sense. From a production perspective, it creates many additional hurdles and considerations that would be absent if I made bags out of plain canvas or leather. So why the obsession? Even after distancing myself from the business for five years and going back with a clearer head and a streamlined plan, I remain steadfast in my resolve to keep hand painted original artwork at the core of Marla Cielo. So the question remains, why?
Though the focus of Joanna’s book is love, listening to her journey about writing it suggested my answer. I want to keep making one of a kind, original, hand painted bags, because it feels human. There is an innate satisfaction in the process, and therefore in the finished product too; it is grounding, deeply fulfilling, inspiring, and powerful. The experience of creating art gives me ‘down to the core’ happiness, and a deep sense of peace and purpose. Because Marla Cielo bags are created with this energy, they inspire the same in the men and women who own them.
The discovery of how to appropriately use technology in our lives is as much dependent on how people find peace and fulfillment in themselves, as it is on how to find true love. Technology accelerates our obsession with efficiency and we find ourselves pursuing faster and cheaper everywhere. But based on how simultaneously dependent our culture is on antidepressants, it is clear that cheaper and faster does not create the fulfillment we crave. Coupled with a downward shift in face to face interactions spurred by smartphones, as a culture we are left feeling empty, depressed, and alone.
Everyone needs to find their own version of fulfillment. It can be love, art, sports, family, friends, food, yoga, the list is endless. Marla Cielo arouses the innate desire to begin the journey inward for that fulfillment. It can be anything, but it can’t be ignored, it is at least as old as the Lascaux wall paintings.