Thanks to my 30/30 Birthday Challenge, which has been opening me up to trying new things and meeting new people, I decided last week that I’d be launching a new series on this blog called “The Intentional Expat Hits the Streets.” I’ll be interviewing people I meet during my travels, day-to-day life and other expats I come into contact with.
My first interview is with Skyler Johnstone, a 23 year old currently living in Seattle, WA (USA) and the founder of Be the Change Clothing co. I ran into him while walking on Seattle’s Alki beach last week and I did a double take because he was sitting on a bench across from the beach…typing on a typewriter. That’s right, not a cell phone, or a tablet, or even a journal, but a typewriter. I couldn’t resist approaching him and introducing myself. And he graciously agreed to be part of the interview series, here’s what he had to say:
1) Tell me a little about your company, Be the Change Clothing co.
I started be the change as a simple t-shirt idea that has grown into a clothing company that makes various products like bumper stickers, t-shirts, hoodies, sunglasses and much more. I started the business as something to do and have now adopted the ideology that BE THE CHANGE is not just a clothing company but a movement as well. A place where you can go and find out about ways you can go about being the change and local events as well.
2) What are some things you’re passionate about?
They would be not quite in this order but close: Food, travel, dancing, writing, snorkeling, hiking, camping, and meditating. (The solitude helps me clear my mind of outside influence and guide my future to the brightest it can be.)
3) I have to ask, in the digital age, why the typewriter?
It may be heavy and behind the times but my typewriter connects me to a more nostalgic way of life that is how I believe people should still be living their lives. With a typewriter you have to think about what you are going to say before you say it, the same is true in life and the way I like to live it. The feel of the keys hitting the paper is also much more of an art for me and my words the ink to canvas in which my art is something that only I can see for now until I have shared it someday with the masses.
4) What sorts of things are you writing…typing?
I have been writing on my typewriter at Alki for about 8 months now and I love it. Mostly I write poetry but from time to time I write self memoir style short stories. My passion is to write as much poetry as possible on my typewriter, when I go to the beach on my typewriter people always stop and engage me and it creates smiles on both of our behalf’s. I get to share my poetry with people and am inspired by the people as well.
5) When can we find you down on Seattle’s Alki Beach?
Finding me at the beach is and will in my opinion be a regular occurrence, there is no set day or time I am down there but I try to go at last once or twice a week at least. It is a personal dream of mine to have my facility down at Alki.
6) Why is Alki so special to you?
The view of Seattle is so amazing and inspiring and the waves crashing into the sand with all the people who are also gallivanting and enjoying the sunshine as of late.
7) What do you love about Seattle?
The best part of Seattle for me is the people, who are artistic and creative and friendly. Seattle is the friendliest city in the country and I see it ringing truer every day. I personally love live music and dancing, I go dancing weekly almost at a beautiful venue called Om Culture in Wallingford on Pacific and 35th. Every Sunday from 8-12am there is social dancing that is only $5. I also love how connected and easy it is to take buses out to nearly any neighborhood and even public city busses all the way to Portland. Another cool thing about Seattle is the Bolt bus, for $20 or less you can get a round-trip ticket to Vancouver BC or Portland OR if you want to visit for a weekend or so. Seattle is also proving to be a great city to start my business as many other entrepreneurs have before me.
8) Do you enjoy traveling? Where have you been?
Traveling is one of my favorite pastimes, recently I was traveling for the past 3 months in which I visited Hawaii for 5 weeks then California, Texas, Florida, Philly, New York, Washington DC, North and South Carolina and Atlanta very briefly. I really don’t like to play favorites, but my favorite city in the country is definitely Seattle although I hope to retire in Hawaii someday.
9) Do you have a bucket list?
My bucket list includes living in every European country for at least one month each.
10) How do you keep a positive attitude in your day to day life?
I stay motivated by realizing how beautiful life is and dancing and meeting new people. I am an optimist and I realize that if the thing we may be arguing about isn’t going to matter in 10 years or even 2 weeks for that matter I try to not let it get to me. Life is too short to surround yourself with pessimistic people. You are as happy as you let yourself be, the only way is up if you let yourself be free.
11) Last question, are you familiar with TED Talks and is there any one in particular that you’d recommend to readers?
I love TED talks, my favorites happen to be very similar as Bill Gates. His top 13 favorites are very intellectual and informative.
It was a pleasure to have the chance to meet and talk with Skyler, he’s definitely got a lot of things in common with “the intentional expat,” taking a proactive stance to fill his life with things he loves, and making it his best life possible. But through his company and writing on the beach he’s also reaching out to connect with and inspire others. The last thing he hoped to share with readers was this, “Most importantly, whether or not you buy any of my clothes or read my poetry, I just want YOU (the reader) to BE THE CHANGE.” You can get in touch with Skyler and find out about his clothing company, “Be the Change Clothing co.” by visiting his Facebook page.
Thanks Skyler! Let me know if you find yourself on the other side of the pond. If you’re reading this and you’d like to be part of the “The Intentional Expat Hits the Streets” interview series, get in touch.