I’m absolutely hyperactive. I hate routines. When I was working for someone, I had to repeat the same thing again and again, and I just couldn’t do it. So I started a few businesses. Some were successful; some were not. My life has been hectic, between routines and my small ventures. I was looking for something, something that can keep me awake and excited every morning.
After having spent a few years in Italy, France, and Hungary, I moved to London. I started to experience the British weather, which was quite tough for me. So I decided to leave again. I bought a ticket to Tanzania. One day, when I was walking around the local Maasai market, I found a pair of flip-flops made of car tires. The moment I saw it, I knew immediately that it is what I want to do. There are so many used tires in Europe, but no one does anything about them.
I started to contact companies about car tire cutting techniques. Before they came back to me, I also realized that I could already start experimenting with bicycle tires. So I bought the tools, and started to collect bicycle tires myself. I cleaned them in the bathroom of my mom, who got quite upset. A few weeks later, my first belt was born. I am not a professional belt maker, but I don’t stop just because I don’t know. Actually, the more I don’t know, the more I want to know. I invent new ideas, which work well for me. I don’t like to look for tire upcycling ideas. I like to create everything on my own. Slowly, I found my own techniques, and I used them to make other things such as jewelries, handbags, skirts etc. Now I am about to launch my first sandal collection. I have a good connection with tires. I think when you realize that you are talented in something, and in my case, I am talented in tires, then you just can’t stop.
It has been two and a half years now, but financially it is still really challenging. The hardest was the first year. I remember I was calculating how much rice I could eat so that I could pay my rent and survive the week. Whatever you earned, you had to invest it back. You had to buy machineries, go to the events. Sometimes you put a lot of money in, and you think now things will change, only to realize later that it is not the case. So you lose money again, which makes it even harder. But I never thought about giving up, because I believed that one day it would become a beautiful business. My long-term vision is to create a brand, partnering with small local manufactories to upcycle lots of tires, and to sell them locally. In this way, we can make a much bigger impact in this world. We have to be conscious about what materials we are using and what impact we are making on our planet. I believe that sustainable fashion is the future.
Whenever I see something that I’m interested, I always jump in, even when people tell me not to. I am quite stubborn in this aspect. I want to explore, to try. Because if you don’t, you would never know. I definitely don’t want to die one day, thinking that I could have done something but I never tried. If you really feel miserable in your job, then just spend one hour or two every day exploring something new. Try what you believe is the reason you are here for. If you do something that you really like, this is the real success, because this is what makes you happy.
I think life is about adventures, challenges, learning something new every day, and I am 100% sure that all my experiences and my failures have helped me find out who I am, what I really want to do, and how to do it. I had many failures in my life, but I don’t feel sorry about them. Maybe, after all these failures, I won’t fail again.
But I was not like this before. I grew up in a very rigid family. Until I was around 26, I was always super depressed. I liked to argue, and I had really bad relationships with people. When I woke up in the morning, I would start arguing in my mind with the person who upset me two weeks ago. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was always afraid of people around me. I had too many expectations, and I was constantly questioning myself. I was treating myself very badly. I was upset with myself all the time.
Then I started to read. Every time I read something, I started to question more, and then I found another book, and so forth. It was a very slow process. For years and years, I still couldn’t feel any change in my life. But thanks to reading, I started to feel the light at the end of the tunnel. I just still didn’t know how to reach it.
It was probably after about five years, that I finally felt something different. I noticed that I started to become more balanced, more open-minded, and more connected to people around me. I stopped arguing as I used to. Now, I trust more my sixth sense. I trust the Universe. I love nature, and I love upcycling, which also gives me another kind of connection to life. I feel I’m part of a bigger picture.
I don’t like the connotation of the word ‘God’. But I do believe that there is some sort of force or energy, something that is much more interesting than this material, physical world. To find the right balance in-between the two is important. It keeps you alive and gives you the ability to love. Love is so important. Love is everything. But we forgot how to love. Nowadays, we are too caught up with our own problems. We become isolated. After work, you go home, you close the door, you love your puppy, but you don’t care about anything else. Most people just live in a really small bubble. I think this is one of the biggest mistakes. It is hard to explain, but you know how that feels, when you have this warm feeling inside. This is the feeling we should keep every day, every hour, every minute. When you go out, you smile, it opens a door for new connections. Love is everything. Love nature, love the people around you, love what you do. I think we can all learn to love more.
Laura Zabo, founder of Laura Zabo