Growing a business from a little idea into reality and into a place that changes the way people see things, is hard. But the process can teach you a tremendous amount. It has taught me to look hard at myself, at the principles which I hold dear, and at the world around me and what it represents.
Are we allowed to think for ourselves? That is the question that kept (keeps) coming to mind. It seems that in order to get anywhere in life, you have to learn to think like everybody else, to talk like everybody else, and to walk like everybody else. I have to say that these beliefs are issues which I have argued against and resisted all my life and which caused me to start a small business with the strangest of motives and intentions (that seem to fly in the face of these beliefs):
- Stay small.
- Do not use any influence gained to oppress others.
- Change people’s lives with my chosen path (eyewear/art).
- Show that a community is not built on politics but on people and relationships.
- Keep in mind that even the strangest and most unique ideas have merit and can be successful.
Frame of Mind (FOM)was born well before it ever opened its doors on Main Street, Columbia SC. It was born the moment that I learned that life is a struggle and that we humans have the capacity to create and to be some of the most amazingly beautiful things on the planet, but often choose not to. It was born as I watched a father figure struggle to prove that his desire was the right desire and that his way of supporting us was the best way of supporting us, even when all the signs pointed to him quitting his dream. It was born when I saw how hard it is to work for people who can’t stand their own jobs and could care less about how you feel about doing yours. Yes, it was born out of the pain and fear that life brings. But, it was born to show that we are truly beautiful, despite how ugly the world gets.
Thus, a crazy little idea called Frame of Mind opened up on Main Street. Skepticism and sarcasm followed, proven by statements like, “We shall see how long they last on the street.” Frame of Mind stayed the course; it kept pushing the idea that community is what people are all about, not negativity. FOM has excelled way beyond expectations. It has even begun to create a community on Main Street, one based on art and the beauty of people’s uniqueness. At the core, FOM is about accepting and supporting people. Along the way this has meant personal sacrifice and having to place immediate business interests to the side. All of this was done to build a long lasting community by giving art and beauty a very necessary platform to expose itself to the city at large.
But even here, there can be ugliness. Even here, there are the expectations that everyone must think alike and that you have to believe and say the same thing as your neighbor. And this is what I call “politics.” When a person (citizen, shop owner, business person, artist, etc.) can’t have their own opinion and be able to voice it without that fear that somebody may be offended and thus stop working with you or try to interrupt your way of life, well that’s “politics”. “Politics” is the place where community ends and oppression begins, a place of fear and anger, a place that is not needed in the human experience.
It is funny how people view each other no matter what they know (or don’t know) about them. We humans have a tendency to project ourselves, our fears, and our expectations onto those around us without trying to understand others, how they work, or how they feel. And, this is something that is so confusing to me…that we can’t put ourselves in the other person’s shoes.
Alas, it seems that this is where we came in and exactly where Frame of Mind was born( at this point of pain in life). So, FOM will champion on some more. It will continue to espouse its unique view of humans, of beauty, and of community. It will persevere…to be a reminder to the city that we are human, not perfect…that the only limitations to our dreams are ourselves.