Posts tagged Océane Hooks-Camilleri
A Guide to Creative Tensions

Sometimes when talking to people about how I'm building Composure I get a chance to explain it in terms of "tensions" that I think are important. I think of Composure as a kind of mirror of my own life, and like many others I find myself trying to balance "work" energy that I put into mundane, routine things (like one-off freelance marketing gigs) and "creative" energy that I put into exploring worlds that are new to me (fashion design, photography, and all the other pieces of a growing Composure world). 

These two things are always at odds with one another in a way that I usually just describe as one of a few kinds of "tensions" that move Composure forward. When catching up with my friend Océane we were talking about how these tensions pull at each other over the span of weeks and months; we shared our own experiences of feeling low creative energy during times when other pressures are high, and trying to balance that with a drive to make the most of creative energy in times when it's there.

I think my experience is that there's always this somewhat frustrating drive to spend the kind of energy that is least available; Oceane and I talked about how months sometimes go by when we feel like we're not doing enough to build on our creative pursuits even if there's the time to do so, a feeling I think a lot of people relate to. But through the conversation we realized that some of our most cherished creative breakthroughs came at the end of those months, as if the time away allowed for fresh eyes—even if that time felt frustrating in the moment. 

We put together this photoshoot as a way to capture those conflicting tensions; moments of openness, and expression alongside others of patience and introspection. Consider it a guide to developing an appreciation for the tensions that come with pursuing creative work, helping us to find and stay the creative path.  

 
 
 

Model / styling: Océane Hooks-Camilleri

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We are patient explorers of challenging places

I'm very intentionally building Composure as a "lifestyle brand," and I've known from the beginning that the most difficult part will be clearly articulating what that lifestyle is. It's relatively easy to make up a generic lifestyle brand for the sake of building an audience, but much more difficult to build a unique and deeply authentic one. I'd like to build the latter. 

Making this more difficult is that I have a tendency to abstract things as a way to make them more rich and interesting. I've had to come to terms with the fact that if I want people to follow along, it first needs to be simple enough that they know what it is.

I think of this as being difficult enough a problem for me to spend at least 2 years on it. About a year ago I started honing in on "artistry" as a central pillar of Composure, which felt a lot more focused than what I started with two years ago, "virtues." Whereas virtues allowed this abstract sort of "people who follow Composure care about strong inner perspective" description, it didn't do a good job of articulating a lifestyle. And while artistry let me talk about the kinds of lives people in the Composure world lead, it still hasn't ever felt like the kinds of simple, clear lifestyle starting point like "travel" that forms the basis of simple brands that people can immediately get.

Combine all of this with the fact that I'm also aiming to balance two different kinds of audiences: those that follow the brand, and those that buy the scarves. Thus far they haven't been exactly the same audiences. And I ultimately don't think they have to be. But I'd like for them to at least be well-considered, and in that way they could at least become at the right amount of similar. 

All that said, I feel like I'm starting to crack this rather tricky code.

Last week the guy behind a nicely developed lifestyle brand reached out to me on Instagram, bringing up a conversation where we touched on much of the above. It got my brain firing. I found myself really digging into audience profiles on both Facebook's (incredibly useful) Audience Insights platform this last week, and through various hashtag rabbit holes on Instagram in which clearly understood lifestyle brands live. It brought a lot of clarity to the kind of lifestyle and audience I want to build around Composure. 

I don't want to make this post about all the nuanced details, but I'm excited to have landed on a lifestyle brand concept that allows for the simplicity that comes with those built around exploration and travel: we are patient explorers of challenging places. 

I'm seeing this world playing with the undaunted exploration of Vice Travel, the avant-guarde  aesthetics of Rick Owens, and the calm minimalism of Acne Studios. 

It's not perfect, but right now it doesn't have to be. All I know is that playing around in these spaces has generated some immediately positive reactions in the Instagram world, indicating that we're in the right direction. We'll keep going. 

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