Sometimes in business the human element gets lost in all the hustle. Here at TeeHunter we try to get to know the people behind our partner brands. This past week I had the opportunity to catch up with Nelson Santos of our partner brand Smiling Times. Nelson’s ability to connect is often at the mercy of the closest wifi-cafe in a remote town. He has made volunteering around the world his main focus and spends a lot of time off the radar. Fortunately for us we got to ask him some questions while he had a solid internet connection. Get to know the brand and the guy behind Smiling Times. Here is our interview with Nelson:
Who are you/ the people behind your brand?
Just me aside from designers I work with.
What is the name of your Brand?
Where is Smiling Times based?
If you could sum up your brand in a one or just a few words, what would it be?
A smile is always in style.
What inspired you to start your brand?
After being completely inundated with negative media coverage all around me, I decided to do something different. Smilingtimes originally began as a positive news media outlet and has evolved into a clothing brand. After all, what better way to project positivity than to wear a positive message on yourself?
What do you want your brand to be known for?
Our brand is all about creating an outlet for positivity, as well as a resource for people to discover volunteer opportunities at home and abroad.
What inspires the artwork on your T-Shirts?
Principally, I gain most of my ideas while traveling. It can be a random thought, a moment during my volunteering with a local community member, or a magnificent sense of perspective by seeing all the man-made and natural wonders of the world. It’s not all happy-go-lucky. I often come across sad exposés of poverty and injustice. It’s through these moments I learn new ways to spin negativity into a positive message.
What is your process for developing a new design?
I sit down and start brainstorming different concepts. After developing each idea, I find one that sticks, and start consulting my artistic colleagues to help develop a finished product.
As a small business owner, what tools have you found most helpful?
Online marketplaces. Through various mediums, I can reach out to talented professionals working all across the world. I can then collaborate with people who have unique perspectives, who will go on to work with each other as well. Now I have a community of professionals I work with frequently.
Has the power of networking been beneficial to your success? Tell us how.
Yes, absolutely. It’s essential that I network in order to find people with valuable skill sets, and to connect with organizations. It’s incredibly fundamental to building a bussiness. Without networking, I would not be where I am today.
What are some of your favorite quotes?
“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
“Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen.” – 1 Corinthians 13:7-10
What motivates you and those behind your brand?
A deep sense of togetherness and hope motivates our brand. We are all in this life together, and through positivity and volunteering, we can learn how we fit into the grand scheme of things. All it takes is lending a hand to those in need. Not only does it make you a better person, but it makes a better world as well.
Are there any books, articles, blogs, etc. you would recommend to inspiring entrepreneurs/artists?
One indispensable book I have read is: Awaken The Giant Within, by Tony Robbins. It boils down to the simple distinction that life is a choice. You are here today because of the choices you made in the past. Today, you can decide where you will go tomorrow, and for the rest of your life. It all rests on your choice right now.
How does your community influence how you do business?
I live in a global community. Since I travel often and work primarily online, I meet and collaborate with people all across the world. I conduct business with an open mind and try to force myself out of my comfort zone. Some of the best results I’ve had have come from trying something new and not being afraid to push the limits of conventional thinking.
Tell of us a memorable event or overcome challenge from first starting out.
The hardest challenge was simply starting to live my dream. I wanted to volunteer out in the world and make my way by doing good and feeling good. I quit my conventional 9-5 job, and left the security of my old life. Most of my friends thought I was crazy, and I probably was, at least a little bit. But now, over a year later, I have volunteered with over 14 NGOs around the world, and I’m living my life on my own terms.