Why I Wear

My Story: "There are many paths to the top of the mountain, but only one view."

Why I Wear

People often share the stories behind the words they wear with us. Now we're bringing their intimate and inspirational stories to you in our new series: Why I Wear. Before we ask other people to share their stories, I'll share mine.

Sometimes when I read the stories that customers send to us, I immediately remember having seen their original messages come through the site and wondering what they meant.

We don't always get to know the back story behind people's messages but when we do, it's always so much more than the 160 characters they chose to symbolize it with. 

I told the team here about the emails I get and we decided that we needed to come up with a way to share them...

Introducing "Why I Wear": Inspirational Stories about people's favorite quotes

I have a million stories.
I feel like I've lived 30 lifetimes.

You can watch my story in full here or read on below.

I'll tell you the story of how I started Fortune & Frame

It was completely a fluke. I got this profound fortune:

The inspirational quote from a fortune cookie that started it all: "There are many paths to the top of the mountain, but only one view."

“There are many paths to the top of the mountain, but only one view.”

I had no idea what it meant, but I felt like I was very much at the bottom of the mountain at that point, and that it would be nice to be at the top. 

I had just turned 30. I was living alone in New York City. I owned a business that was doing well, but I had the emotional toolbox of a 16-year old. I'd been in serial relationships since high school and had never stopped to discover who I was outside of someone else. This fact had finally caught up with me and was revealing itself in so many different ways. Little did I know then that this seeming moment of confusion would become a decade of self-exploration and growth.

I was looking for guidance wherever I could find it. So when I received that fortune, I held onto it. It clearly knew things that I didn't.

I put it on my fridge, and it kept falling off, so I went to buy a little frame for it. But nothing existed. I thought that was bizarre. People always hold onto these things, right? How is there no frame for it?

It occurred to me then that it would be cool to invent something that could hold it, but I was in no position to do that. I didn't know the first thing about designing or creating products.

I ignored it for six months, but it kept haunting me. It wouldn't go away.

After a while, I thought, I'm supposed to do something with this. I know that sounds weird that you're supposed to do something. But I felt compelled.

I had no idea where to start. I has no idea what I was doing.

I started waking up at five in the morning. And I would just research. I would call people that I read about in Forbes who were talking about making products, and I would work with them.

One of my favorite stores from New York: Working with people I researched online to build the first prototypes

Me and one of the first product engineers I collaborated with, building one of our early prototypes.

The ironic thing is that I was really good at what I was doing in my career at that point. But of course, I'd decided that I needed to pursue this thing that I was not good at at all.

We actually have a fortune about this:

Make sure to do what you love, 
not just what you're good at. 

It's about this time and about being really awful at something you feel really compelled to do. 

There was just so much I didn’t know. For instance, I didn't know that, in order to design jewelry, you have to understand how it's made. I didn't know that every time you make a new mold, the piece you cast from that mold shrinks by 3.5%. Or that there are minimum depths for enamel. Or that anything you design should have at least a 1 mm thickness. I barely even knew the metric system.

I feel like Fortune & Frame was sent to me. Now we're sharing short stories about people.

I also didn't know how to be vulnerable. I didn't know how to learn from other people. I didn't know how to trust people to take care of me or guide me in the right direction. 

I had to work with a ton of people and figure out who and how to trust.

My favorite quotes are the 200 - 300 I wrote in the journey to launching the brand.

I wrote the first 200 - 300 messages on our site during the journey to creating our original pieces.

One thing that I always think about is that before we designed and released our original pieces, they literally didn't exist in the world. They lived in my head. They were just a dream I had. And I had to figure out how to bring something that was invisible into the world.

To me, this has always been a reminder that whatever you dream about, make sure it's something you want, because it can come true. A lot of times it does come true because you accidentally manifest it. My goal now and always is to deliberately manifest. 

Shown Here: From dream to reality, one of the meaningful stories along the journey to Fortune & Frame

Early sketches that ultimately became our first collection of inspirational message-holding lockets.

I remember that right after we launched, people were reading all these fortunes and messages that I had written as notes-to-self to myself during this time, and identifying with them.

That gave me the confidence to keep going. I realized that as intense as my journey felt to me at the time, I wasn't alone. There were a lot of people out there who were also looking for guidance, and suddenly I was in the position to speak to them, much in the same way my original message spoke to me.

Shown here: the first and original frames by Fortune & Frame

These are some of the original frames I designed. I like to joke that they weighed about 5 pounds and costed so much to produce that we had to charge $300 each for them. We did manage to sell a few though.

There is so much more to my story, so we've created a video that goes into detail about the longer process and journey of bringing Fortune & Frame to life.  You can watch that above.

Shown Here: Snapshots of the inspirational and true life stories about the people we've encountered along our journey.

I hope that you like the new Why I Wear series. We have so many amazing people and their heartfelt, inspirational stories--things that you would never know about a person by looking at their instagram or even their 160-character fortune.

I'm really happy to start sharing these with you guys and I hope you like them.

Gretel Going

Gretel Going is the designer and founder of Fortune & Frame. Here she shares her inspiration for the line, thoughts about life, the meaning behind the fortunes, and our process for bringing the pieces to life.