Let me tell you something about myself: I have the power to change the world.
Here's another secret: So do you.
The only problem is, it isn't always clear how to change it. In my life, I experienced both the hardships of the Third World and the comfort of the First. Having grown up in Hyderabad, India before moving to the suburbs of America, I was exposed to the disparity of these two worlds. On one side, there is such poverty, hunger, and the constant struggle for survival. On the other, there is shelter, food, and the comfort of hot showers.
Why did such a difference exist, I would ask myself. Could I bridge that gap?
With my father as my guiding light, I jumped into the entrepreneur's life at an early age. I had my first big success at the age of 15 when my friend and I developed a concept for split jerseys—never did we imagine that it would be worn by Nelly in the 2001 Super Bowl Halftime show. I went on to create many products after that—some were on national TV, others in stores, and I even got to work this guy named Diddy.
With this string of success, I was riding high. Life was good, and the only change I thought the world needed was more of my ideas and products. I had lost sight of my core values.
But life is a teacher, and I would soon receive a lesson I will never forget.
Being young and careless, I had most of my savings in high risk stocks. When the market fell in 2007, I lost everything. I was brought back to reality—money, I learned, doesn't last forever. This was one of the most difficult points in my life. The success I worked so hard to achieve had escaped me. Even worse, I lost my drive, my ambition, my vision. In the midst of all this, I lost my father as well. Why would this happen to me? How could I recover? What should I do now?
I spent over a year dealing with no vision and a lack of ambition. All I could think about was how much money I had lost and how to make it back. These thoughts only brought about lackluster ideas with no larger cohesive vision. There had to be something more, I thought to myself, there had to be something deeper within me which fueled my creativity and drive. I decided to take a break from it all and revisit the place where I had spent my youth.
This journey home was a point of reflection in my life. As I spent time with my family and friends I experienced a serene joy—not brought by money or materialism but by a love for others, a love for humanity. As an old man told me, “life is about self-contentment.” This led me to think about how much I had to be thankful for even after my loss: I live in a country which offered opportunity. I regained a focus of the big picture.
When I flew back to the States I had this craving to create change in the world. Using my talent and past experience I developed an idea which has become a movement: 1:Face. The product is a watch, because time is a symbol of humanity's growth. The face of the watch is a mirror, because change originates from within. When you check the time, you see your reflection looking back within you.
The 1:Face watch is a fashion product with a humanitarian heart. By harnessing the power of consumer spending, 1:Face empowers the consumer to support global causes, including cancer, hunger, water, the environment, and AIDS.
The project is in alliance with the American Cancer Society, One Day’s Wages, Charity: Water, The Adventure Project, Keep a Child Alive, and the National Breast Cancer Foundation. The watches, selling for $40 each, are color coded according to cause and fulfill charity specific metrics. For example, One Day’s Wages will provide food supplements to 16 children in the Horn of Africa for every white watch sold, while Charity: Water will build a well to support an entire village in Rwanda for every 625 yellow watches sold.
In the first 10 days the watches were available, contributions were able to provide 5712 children with food, 31 charcoal-efficient stoves, 13 mammograms, 35 months of AIDS treatment, support for 3936 cancer patients, and 15 percent of the funding necessary to build a well in Rwanda.
I currently wear the white watch, as a reminder of my youth. When I check the time, I see the face of a young boy staring back within me. There is a hunger in his eyes, but not for wealth or redemption. He is longing for change. I smile when I see him. The change is coming.
One thousand people have already joined the 1:Face movement. Together we will change the world, 1:Face at a time.
Fam is a serial entrepreneur, branding strategist, and marketer. He is best known for establishing a fashion trend, creating event concepts for Sean 'Diddy' Combs, and formulating marketing and brand evolution strategies. He is also the creative director of Mirza Minds, a full service digital marketing and brand development firm.