man with sneakers/trainers

Why and how to start a sneaker business at 44

Is 44 my halftime? 

It was my 44th birthday a few weeks ago and I started to realise this might be it -  44 years might well be my halftime. Not knowing what comes next but having the privilege to have lived for 44 amazing years already is really something to celebrate.  

Birthday celebration - blowing out candles

What sticks from the 44 years I've lived? Big moments like meeting my wife Amy in Hyde Park in London playing frisbee, the birth of my now seven-year-old son Miles. Having the privilege to have lived in three countries and travelled all over the world. Being born in Switzerland and growing up in some of the most spectacular nature enjoying the beautiful scenery of mountains in summer and winter. Just WOW!  

But lets stop there as I want to use this opportunity to share some personal ideas, I had over these years which will hopefully resonate with you. 

What do you want to become when you are a grown up? 

Remember that question starts coming up as early as you start talking and walking this world. What was your answer to it? My dad was a Post officer and off course from that I looked up to him and wanted to be able to do what he did. What I learned over time is that I still dont know what I want to be.  

To be honest it doesnt really matter what you are doing if you know why you are doing it. If you know why you are doing what you are doing, the how and what you do becomes secondary, almost irrelevant. Your why will always make you drive in the right direction and become your north star. It’s that drive you feel, when you are You found your home, your place of belonging and most likely a tribe that gets you and knows where you are coming from and where you are going to.  

Am I successful at 44? 

What does success mean to you? Is it monetary, owning something that is special to you, a feeling you get, or simplywanting to be happy?  

I remember in my twenties I loved playing the guitar and we had this funk pop jazz band Pot – Pourrithat created some of the most memorable moments of my life. We only played our own tunes that we co-wrote in a sketching kind of way. There was a lot of jamming and improvisation going on that lead to us creating some beautiful moments.  

I now play very rarely but whenever I play there is a sense of freedom, timeless moments, and happiness in there. Music is the only thing I know where you experience one moment at the time. No holding on to it, you cant wait for as it hits you like lightning when its there and disappears as quickly as it came. If you ever played an instrument in a band, I am sure you have felt this moment when everyone comes together and everything feels right just for that moment in time.  
That is what success feels like to me: one moment in time where you feel everything coming together and creating that lightning bolt you remember until the next moment happens. Success is being in that moment, weightlessly and happily moving into the next moment. 

Crazy expression man with glasses

So why VYN at 44? 

What is the alternative? Having designed over 25 footwear collections in the last 15 years, repeating myself over and over again by creating more products that weren’t necessarily better than before. This made me ask: when is that moment approaching when I actually design? Where is that lightning bolt and that weightless and happy moment?  

That is when I realized, I cannot create that moment for someone else I can only create it for me and hope that it happens for someone else. Together with my longtime friend Catherine Meuter I started experimenting with shoes that make sense. Sense through its core purpose of longevity. Over a partly nerve-racking but always incredibly exciting process we developed customisable shoes with a new-to-the-world eco-innovation to make them longer-lasting and grow old together with their wearers.  

By creating my own custom trainers I created a unique space in which these moments, that I tried to describe above, arise again and again for me but also for others. When I am looking at someone walking off in a pair of VYNs that moment is created for me, and I believe for them as well. I feel proud that I created something that makes sense, that people love to wear and most of all that their confidence is lifted, and they love wearing our timeless and long-lasting sneakers.  

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