This week, I had a short visit with a new friend, Michael Huynh of Publish Brand Apparel. He’s a smart and intense dude who built a company from the ground up. His dad was a shoe cobbler with some experience in clothing, and never wanted his son to be in the apparel business, since he saw it as tough, low-paying, and service-based. Michael’s dad wanted him to be a lawyer or doctor. So Michael hid the idea of Publish from his dad.
The idea of Michael’s company came from his infatuation with a specific moment in the creative process: the moment when something becomes “real.” For many, like myself, the buildup of time and energy behind a creative passion can be all-consuming to the maker, but there is often a sense of disconnection. When you’re making something creative–an album, a book, or a clothing line, for example–countless hours may go into a project, over a long span of time. During that time, it’s hard for other people to understand or appreciate the sweat and stress of making it work, the frustration of hitting dead ends and getting it wrong, and the overwhelming joy of getting it right. Your parents and friends will ask, “how is it going?” but there’s really no answer you can give them that will help them understand.
Really, you’re working toward the moment when you get “published”–the moment when you finally get to show everyone what you’ve been up to. Only then can they truly feel the effort that went into it, and begin to understand.
That feeling is one that I understand intimately, and it’s the feeling that Michael’s company was built on. He told me a great story about it: when Michael finally got his own space, his own office and warehouse, he didn’t even invite his dad to his opening party, for fear that his Dad would be disappointed in the small office. Then, in the middle of the party, he felt a familiar hand on his shoulder…his father had crashed the party to see what his son was up to.
Michael was embarrassed and anxious as he showed his dad around the place. But in the end, his dad gave him some of his most important encouragement. And today, Michael is in the middle of a breakthrough in “publishing” his brand right now, finally turning heads with his creations. In particular, their hats are kinda blowing up.
Unfortunately, as we were hanging out and talking, I didn’t think to take any photos. But if I had, I would have taken a picture of the craziest thing I found at their warehouse: the guy hand-making Publish’s popular hats is Michael’s own dad.
In a day and age where everything is computerized and streamlined, it’s often easy for fans to forget or question that there’s a human being on the creation side of the equation. So sometimes it’s the human touch that makes the biggest difference.
As Michael says, “Today for Tomorrow.”