Eventually, I asked my parents, “Can we buy some more socks?” They said “No,” plain and simple. But then my Dad added, “If you want more socks, you’ll have to work for it.”
My parents weren’t just trying to teach me a lesson about materialism and responsibility. They genuinely didn’t have the money to buy more socks. Our family had fled Cambodia and spent several years in a refugee camp at the Thailand/Cambodia, border before emigrating to the United States. Though incredibly fortunate to make it here, my family did not have it easy upon our arrival to the land of opportunity. My childhood was defined by food stamps, Section 8 housing and a total of two threadbare t-shirts in my closet. But it was also defined by the incredible example my parents set for me, and the values they instilled – perseverance and ambition.
My parents picked fruit, did yard work and recycled cans. By working hard in the least desirable jobs society had to offer, we scraped by. Through them, I learned that with hard work, anything was possible.
And so, I got a job at Jack-and-the Box. With my first paycheck, I bought myself some more socks. It was a pivotal moment. I had wanted something, so I worked for it.
Fast-forward past college and landing jobs at Disney Animation Studios, and then a few years later at Pixar Animation Studios. These are top tier studios that every animator dreams of working for. I even worked on two Oscar-winning films. But despite these huge accomplishments, I wanted more. I realized that fashion was a perfect platform in that it embodies everything I care about creatively. Thus, Bush + Leavenworth was born with the desire to contribute something great to society – something that would make people stand up, take notice, and jump aboard.
“If you want more socks, you’ll have to work for it.”
I’ll never forget my first fashion meeting with an established colleague in the field. I had brought sketches and inspiration to the meeting, excited to share my vision. My colleague looked quietly at the sketches and designs, and then looked me square in the eye to say, “Neth – I’m worried. I don’t think you’ll make it.”
She didn’t think I had the knowledge and expertise to cut through an incredibly noisy and competitive market. I, however, was adamant about the untapped market for creative individuals. I wasn’t taking no for an answer. I read, researched, networked and plowed forward. I wanted Bush + Leavenworth to succeed, so I worked for it.
I had wanted something, so I worked for it.
Today’s B+L is the result of my evolution as a designer and creative director, many lessons learned and many obstacles conquered. But what’s stood constant through it all is the example set by my parents and the value of hard work. If you want something, you have to work for it.
Artist + Entrepreneur
Neth Nom is the Founder and Creative Director of Bush + Leavenworth.