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When I grow up.

November 23 2020 – Kristina ZOUEIN

When I grow up.
When I grow up.

When was it that you were able to answer the “what do you want to be when you grow up” question? It was only years passed – unconvincing - college studies that I was able to answer that question,

and with reference to my previous article the trigger came on my 28th year. Do the math: this means that I was a vagabond in my own life for almost 7 years. And once I discovered my itinerary, I still needed to self-teach.

Today I am (almost :)) 40, and time seems to accelerate and slip beyond my grasp, but back in the twenties, days had a tendency to go by quite slowly being unfulfilled. So I went from half a year of architecture, to a sabbatical studying languages, to 3 years of business administration with electives in marine archeology wanting to switch to explore the oceans. I did an internship at the bank where I took pictures of the bathrooms to express my boredom to my parents, I marketed a music label, did the administrative work of a jewellery designer, tried to be a real estate agent for luxury apartments, went to Costa Rica with UNHCR for 6months, yet none of these jobs were inspiring enough for me to stick around.

Up until this random event : my stylish, my elegant, my charming grandmother, who actually wanted me to become a dentist :), gave me a series of 1950s belts, which sparked my first belt design. We went walking together to a textile store nearby her home: we chose half a meter of a floral fabric and red synthetic leather, because buying a leather skin was too much of an investment. I asked around for a tailor for the first prototype, I then had a sample batch of 10 pieces made which I sold at a 2-day neighbourhood fair under the label of Kinza* Designs: and that was it! This is when I entered the bumpy road to my why, to the reason I do the things I do: I design leather stories.

As much as I enjoyed evolving into the feet of an autodidact where there are no ground rules, I found the path of being self-taught quite puzzling: making and finding my way with no formal education did weaken me every now and then. But the universe has a way of putting the right people on your path, and those people contribute together to making your plan come to life.

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in the future.” Steve Jobs.

Through the years it was always on my mind to thank those who have marked my journey:

Tatie Denise, up there in the skies, for her vintage belts; my dear friend Carine Dakkak who gave me a shelf of her booth at that weekend fair where I sold my first belts; my dear school friend Myriam Ryzk who introduced me to Nayla de Freige & Rita Saab Moukarzel, whom in turn introduced me to my mentor Johnny Farah. Tarek Sadi who hinted at the importance of story telling during a short meeting we had long before story-telling was in-vogue. And years later in Brussels: thoughtful coordinator Maryem Ben Hadj who introduced me to wonderful shoe designer Kristel Peters, who in turn introduced me to brand communication specialist Filip Bullens who brilliantly grasped the personality of Kinamania. My dear friend and north star this last year Nada Gharzouzi whose crystal brains helped me structure my project. Sabine Boghossian whose curious and creative mind showed me the way to various Brusseleer initiatives, and vivid and witty Charlotte Creplet whose teaching methods to content marketing can only make you excel.

“Moi, mon père et ma mère sont carrément hors pair, Et au milieu de ce récit, Je prends quelques s'condes, je tempère, Pour dire à ma mère et à mon père "Merci !" GrandCorpsMalade

I cannot but wrap up this post with a word to my bro Eric Zouein, who bought me my first leather skin with his pocket money, my mother Elise, and forever ambassador, who’s been there at every step of the way never doubting me, my father Armand who was the first to invest in my hazy projects and who taught me about the power of the mind. And my life partner, my wingman and digital techie Elias Karam.

I recently read “The bad news is time flies. The good news is you are the pilot." Most of the people listed above are probably not aware of their good deed, but I owe to them that I am a pilot today.


*Kinza means little treasure in Persian.