There’s an unwritten rule on ACL where I try and make a point of not doing overtly obnoxious blogger things – though I’m sure some find me overtly obnoxious nonetheless. I attempt to avoid posting pictures of myself on this site and I don’t actively post any sort of press coverage that I am fortunate enough to get. Part of the reason I avoid this stuff is because I don’t want this site to be about me per se, I want the focus to be on the truly interesting and deserving people, places and stories that are out in the world. Though recently I have been struggling internally about going against my self-prescribed code to post a video that involves me in a roundabout way. Ultimately, I decided that the benefits for the subject of the video outweigh the possibilities an appearance of a self-congratulatory blogger parade.
Chris Hughes from Omaha, Nebraska struggled himself, though in a much more real way. He grappled with the recession spending the better part of a year being unemployed or underemployed. During this troubling time of his life he started to focus energy making leather goods, bags and aprons on the side. He hoped to transform his hobby into a business and take a massive leap of faith to leave his job with health insurance to work on his company Artifact Bag Co. full time. In December of 2010 he did just that and has been building Artifact ever since. In a TEDx talk in Omaha he recently gave a speech (see video above) about a tweet and our brief encounter that changed his life.
Watching the video I was flattered by his story and the sincere words. Though I don’t really think my tweets changed his life, I think he changed his life. If he didn’t take the initiative to start making things (good-looking things no less) then he wouldn’t have had the opportunity to capitalize on the press coverage and buzz that he received. So while this is me being humble and saying that the success Chris has had is really just thanks to Chris, the TEDx talk is also just Chris being equally as humble and saying that ACL and my tweet are what did it while he deserves all of the credit.
The lasting impression I get from Chris Hughes and his story is the fact that ACL was able to play a small part in the success of an American company that is making things domestically in an honest way. If I have had any selfish motives for ACL and The American List it would be to hear more stories like the one of the Artifact Bag Co. That’s the stuff that has changed my life.