In Taiwan and Going Nowhere
In time, he started sending out his resume. Unfortunately, after sixty-four applications and five interviews, Seyi still didn't have a job. Not having any luck with the traditional routes, Seyi began cold calling firms, only to be turned away over and over again.
Seyi was back to square one. With nothing going, and having worked in construction during his university years, Seyi went back to manual labor. He took this time to hone his crafting skills, putting meticulous care into even the smallest tasks. In the meantime, he continued to build his portfolio with CAD drafts, and sketches for products dreamt up when not on a job.
Project Chaboo and Tomita Designs
A few months down the road, Ken spearheaded Project Chaboo, a collaborative design project that brought together fifty artists who each reinterpreted a traditional Chabudai tea table (a collapsible short-legged table used in traditional Japanese homes). In need of a helping hand, Ken thought of Seyi. Even though the position was unpaid, Seyi jumped at the opportunity. Despite the lack of a paycheck, Seyi showed up early every day and worked hard. It was his first concrete experience in the design community and it left a lasting impression:
“Project Chaboo was my first real design project. At first I was just excited to design and build my own piece of furniture. The thing that stood out most was how the venture was designed in a way that managed to create a community around it. People were eager to jump on board and help out with the project. For me this feeling of teamwork outside of the traditional team setting was really fantastic. I often look to this experience to help inform some of the projects I have going today.”
During this time, Seyi became Ken’s right hand man, and gained valuable insight into the process of taking a concept and making it real. When Ken cofounded Grovemade a year and a half into his tenure, Seyi became an integral part of the new business.
Grovemade and Beyond
Throughout this frenzied period, Seyi began to think seriously about the prospect of continuing his education. It was something he’d considered in the past but those he went to for advice suggested that he focus on perfecting his skill set, that he should “take on his own master’s in life.” But his experience from the previous years said otherwise. His lack of a design degree had been a roadblock haunting him every step of the way. After several months of soul-searching and numerous discussions with his mentor Ken, he decided it was time to take that last lingering hurdle and return to school.
Seyi’s journey is one that exemplifies the potential of drive, of seeking one’s dreams no matter the number of setbacks. He has demonstrated that one is not defined by his background but by his willingness to pursue, his belief in his own ability. Seyi’s initiative and moxie are inspiration to us all, and we’re glad we got to be part of his journey.