The idea behind Since I Left You stemmed from conversations between founding members, Geremy Campos and Annie Nguyen, about their own challenges of moving away from Hawai’i to add new chapters in their careers. Both have been working within the creative space for the last several years, but still find themselves looking to home for stronger connection and inspiration. Given all that’s available today to stay connected, they’ve comitted to developing a dialogue between home and the “expats” they’ve met along the way. There is so much to write home about and so many to write to.
Hawai‘i remains a significant part of both their lives. While it is a beautiful, must-stop destination for many, there are other facets about living and working on an island that are complex. A lot of these events and stories are left undiscussed. Since I Left You aims to create a dialogue around the realities of its creative community and the evolution of what it means to grow up, work, and live in Hawai’i.
Since I left you
I found the world so new
(And yes, Since I Left You takes it's name from The Avalanches’ album and song released in 2000.)
I moved from Hawai'i, a place that was home for most of my adult life, to New York during 2014's "Polar Vortex" (the east coast's coldest winter in recent history). My flight touched down at 8 a.m. in JFK, I dropped my luggage off at a relative's apartment by 9 a.m., and I went straight to work at 10 a.m. There wasn't enough time for me to process how drastic of a life-change I had made at the time and before I knew it, 10 months had passed by and the only way my body could react was to cry on a busy M-train on the way to work.
The last 3 or so years of my New York life have been the most exhausting and challenging. I've experienced major highs in my career and some intense setbacks, but throughout the duration of this time away my need for connection to home (and the creatives in it) has become a bit obsessive. I left Hawai'i at a time where I had hit a creative glass-ceiling. I remember bringing a portfolio of my styling work to mostly every publication in Hawai'i and asking their editors what I would need to do to potentially work for them; I was left without an answer or direction. But now I see that so many new, talented creatives that are making new opportunities for their generation in Hawai’i and beyond. They inspire me and have pushed me to create a channel where we can talk about the challenges or benefits of cultural, geographical limitations.
Ultimately, Since I Left You is a series of love letters to home and the creative people in it. It’s also a way to expose uncomfortable truths of who we are, where we’ve been, and where we want to go.
Website | Instagram
Since I Left You is a very personal project. It is my letter home and a way for me to self reflect my journey thus far, to maintain and form new connections and to share stories. Although I‘ve had struggles with growing up in Hawai‘i, I am so thankful for the cultural epicenter that made up my childhood. My time was split between Ho Chi Minh City and Los Angeles until college, where I briefly lived in London. My friends growing up were from every background. The first language I spoke was Vietnamese and was taught Hawaiian and French twice a week. Then there was Japanese in high school and German in college. These very experiences are what shaped my world lens and fueled my curiosity and thirst to learn.
I strongly believe one can only grow from learning. One of the best ways to learn is to talk. At one point, my dialogue with Hawai‘i had hit a wall. I felt that it did not allow for the work that I wanted to do. In fact, I had been there for so long that I felt uncomfortable. Leaving was one of the biggest challenges because I did it alone, with no prospects and hardly any money. I was also was met with many obstacles, both in culture and in values. Not to mention, the self doubt that clouds many creatives.
While I have my hang ups with Los Angeles, it has given me many opportunities, both in career and in personal growth. Returning home now is helping me build a relationship with Hawai‘i in ways that I never imagined possible. But one thing that has not changed is the desire to connect and share. I don’t think that will ever leave me. I don’t think Hawai‘i will either.
Website | Instagram
Anna Archibald is the reason why we’re even at all ever active on social media. Anna not only plans and strategizes our social presense but has also been on set and helped produce shoots. To top it off, she’s a brilliant artist.
Elisa GyotokuElisa Gyotoku is a featured writer whom we spoke to but later in the making of Since I Left You gave us a huge hand in proofing and finalizing all articles. She currently resides in Honolulu and works as a writer. Find her latest work here.
Since I Left you would like to thank all of our interviewees and contributors. Without talking to you, none of this would be possible. We would also like to extend a thank you out to the following:
And to you, the reader for your support.
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