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THAT GUY NAMED MARTIN . . .

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A Right Triangle may very well be the best way to describe how my craft and career started in this lifetime. My apparel design career did not start as a hypotenuse - the straight line opposite the right angle - and for all intents and purposes, a straight easy path. It was more like the path formed by the other two sides of the triangle that create the right angle or simply put short and long paths with a sharp turn in a completely different direction in the middle and with surprised stops along the way. In reality, it began with a life-changing experience in the United States Navy after high school - with mechanical engineering training - that opened my eyes to what world conflict would look like, working in retail afterward while exposed to different principal of studies from Finance, Apparel Merchandising then Marketing to a completely different career in apparel design that started merely as an innocent Apparel Design Internship. I was never formally trained as an Apparel Designer. It was chance that started my apparel design career.

It was change and adaptability that have shaped and maintained it.


The quote by the Helsinki Design Museum on my landing page describes change perfectly. The shifts and turns at the start of my career was a precondition to what has become my philosophy. Change is permanent. It is life. From it, I have discovered tremendous creativity and talent within myself I never even knew existed. I learned about my own ability to adapt to and to overcome challenges. Change has taught me that my self will can further my talent. It introduced me to constructive thinking when facing differences. That taking risks didn’t always mean gambling my life away. Change taught me confidence to trust myself when life takes a different unexpected turn. Change taught me that everyday is uncertain. The same way success is. I can, however, show my A game everyday and create my own opportunities. As Rory Vaden says, "Success is never owned; it is only rented and the rent is due every day."


Born in Jakarta, Indonesia to hardworking parents and overachievers, my family moved to New York City when I was at a tender age of 16. Gotham taught me a lot about life. It taught my older sister and I that growing up different as non-natives in a foreign city was normal. Being different was what New Yorkers were and still are today. That diversity could create opportunities that would bear tolerance, creativity, perseverance, courage, character and progress while still needing each other for all those to happen. It truly is a concept that I still live by today.

A concept also applicable to my work in apparel design.

Over the years, apparel design has revealed many facets of myself. The biggest one is creativity which in itself is a by-product. In my case, it is driven by natural curiosity, what-if’s, adaptability, inclination to be independent, self-taught mindset and problem-solving tendency that collectively produce a fluid energy. Creativity is the same energy that used to get me in a lot of trouble with my parents when I was a kid and yet has undisputedly produced a fulfilling career for me. It has also revealed my passions in cooking, photography, teaching as well as continued curiosity in world and cultural exploration. The latter has made me appreciate traveling to foreign lands where unfamiliar languages and cultures are a must to discover newness. Creativity is an energy that reminds me of flexibility in order to discover newness for its own existence while still necessitating fluid fundamentals.
Bruce Lee said it best, "Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless – like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”
I would say the same about creativity. It has to be fluid. It can be applied in so many different ways. And it has contributed so much to my career and my life.
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