Monday, January 18, 2010

FACEBOOK RUINED MY LIFE - The "Normal Watches" Story.

If there was a statement that sums up the Facebook revolution for a lot of the world's population this would be it. 

Everyone has had a friend that they love some days, and loathe the next. You know what I'm talking about, that friend you need in some way, but you always have to keep them at arms length? Because they are a little bit crazy.

And Facebook is technology's version of this. At first I was caught up in the hype, but over time I have grown to feel suffocated and developed a paranoia that Facebook isn't my friend...I think it could be the enemy?
Friend's have  expressed their concern at the decline in my status updates, and the increase of my presence on Twitter. But, I have good reason for this. In the last year I have:

-Agonised for days over how to hide a break up from Facebook. 

-Been found by people that should have remained lost. 

-Been stalked by those people.

-I've blocked these people, only to find an abusive email in my inbox as to what my reason was for blocking them? Uncomfortable.

-Been guilted into not blocking people in case I encountered them in day to day life.
When did we allow Facebook to have so much control over our lives???

It was in my time NOT on Facebook, that I discovered an American Watch Company that had created a product that aligned with my feelings of this social networking tool. Don't get my wrong, Facebook hasn't ruined my life....YET.


Matthew and Shayne (Creators of Normal Watches) met at the Hell's Angels San Clemente rally weekend in '77.

Shayne, on his blue-flamed Chopper and wearing his trademark red/white/blue helmet, accidentally backed into Matthew's bike.

"Get your crap bike out of my way," Shayne taunted.

Matthew took off his helmet, letting his hair fall down past his waist.

"It's a crap bike, but it's MY crap bike. You gotta a problem with that?" The graphic on Matthew's motorcycle simply showed an owl giving the finger.

Then Shayne noticed the extremely rare Skull and Fireworks tattoo that Matthew had on his underarm. "Holy shit, you're an Ace Jumper?"

"How do you know about that?" The Ace Jumpers were a super-exclusive gang of bikers who had done the following within 36 hours: rob 4 banks, drive 2000 miles, recite "A Clockwork Orange" by memory, and drink 10 bottles of Jagermeister -- all without sleeping or eating.

"This is how I know." Shayne lifted up his ZZ Top beard to reveal the exact same Jumper tattoo on his chin.

"Brother!" "Brother!" They hugged, knowing that there were only five more of them in the world.

"Hey, you wanna start a watch company?" Shayne asked.

"Man, that's a great idea. We could make kick ass watches and sell them for as cheap as possible."

"Yes. Let's do it."

Ten bank robberies later, they had their start-up money for Normal Watches.

So, what possessed me to randomly email Matthew and ask for an interview? 

Well he just seems like a cool guy in all aspects. The Normal Watches concept is totally unique at less than $20 a slice, backed up by a super sweet website, and their fun take on the world had me intrigued...

WHO IS MATTHEW NEWELL from NORMAL WATCHES, and what is he all about?
So I plucked up the courage to email Matthew, and being the most awesomely approachable guy that he is...he responded. Enjoy!! 

Baby Wasp: Since I was a kid I have always liked to believe I have been destined for "greatness". I've wondered whether this unwavering belief is a genetic trait between successful people. Did you have dreams of greatness when you were a kid? What did you dream about?

Matthew: "You know, I never fantasised or wanted to be a rockstar, I never fantasised about being the President, I never fantasised about a lot of things as you say "people who are destined for greatness", I don't know if I'm destined for greatness, I'm certainly trying.

When I was in High School I was obsessed with David Letterman, the tv talk show host here in the States. Obsessed with him, watched the show every night, practiced all of his jokes, watched his interviewing techniques. I don't know why, I was obsessed with him. Because of that I ended up going to College and becoming a Broadcasting Major, and then once I got to to College I kind of became obsessed with the whole Mod Musical Movement of The Jam and The Who and Ben Sherman and all that stuff. Obsessed, absolutely obsessed and kind of haven't gotten, I still like David Letterman, but kind of haven't gotten over the whole Mod thing...yet.

Baby Wasp: What inspired you to create "Normal Watches"?

Matthew: "Well, my business partner, Shayne, and I wanted to do something...he's got a background in Graphic Design, I've got a background in Marketing. And with our jobs we were always trying to push the envelope, and do, not crazy stuff, but stuff that would get us noticed, or get our products noticed, stuff that would get the company recognition. And we were always being told "No" alot, so we wanted to do something where he could from a design persepctive and creatively really go bonkers. And we both kind of brainstormed the ideas, but he makes it look like what we talk about making it looking like.
And then I just wanted to do something that was, I don't know,  I didn't want to work for anyone, I wanted to work for myself, and I wanted to be the one responsible for whether the company succeeded or failed. No-one could tell us no, but then again no-one says yes. If we don't sell watches, we don't get paid, it's just that simple. We wanted to do something where we were in charge for all of the good things and the bad things."

Baby Wasp: Your watches follow cultural trends. I bought my little sister "Facebook ruined my life", because a few times Facebook nearly has! How do you know you are onto something good?

Matthew: "Well, I know this is going to sound like, kind of like an obvious answer, but sales! You know, there are some watches that we put out that we absolutely think are going to destroy, and no-one buys them.  And there are some watches that we think are pretty good and then they end up being our best seller. So, you really don't know, and I think that's another great thing about the approach that we have taken is we do our best, we put out stuff that we think is really really cool and then we just see what works and what doesn't work. The things that work, we push em on and push them through as quickly as we can and things that didn't work 'eh, we tried' and we just go onto the next thing."

Baby Wasp: What has been the biggest challenge you have faced with starting the company, and how did you smash it? (Why I chose to use the phrase 'smash it', I'm not entirely was 3am! It seemed to bring amusement to Matthew!)

Matthew: "The biggest challenge is obviously our watches are affordable, because they are affordable we wanted to make sure they are below $20 and the only way to do that, literally, is to have them manufactured in China. So the biggest hurdle, and it's a hurdle to this day is both the time and the communication gap in working with our manufacturing partners in China or Hong Kong. It's really really difficult, most of my business with them has to be  done at 8 or 9  o'clock at night, which is 7 or 8 o'clock in the morning there time, plus it's a different language, plus all sorts of other things. That has been, and continues to be the biggest struggle and I don't know if we've 'smashed it', it's certainly gotten better. (Laughter)  We do a lot of things on email, because I think that everything is in English and it gives them the chance to translate things, if there are things that they might not understand. But it also means that it takes a while because we can't sit all day long and email back and forth because I'm asleep or they're asleep. We haven't smashed it, but I like the enthusiasm of smashing the challenges, but we're working to make it better. "

Baby Wasp: What is the coolest free advertising you have ever received?

Matthew: "You know, we have been very very very very fortunate that blogs like yourself, and magazines, and newspapers and stuff have for whatever reason thought that we were something fun and interesting to cover. We've been in 'Nylon Magazine', we've been in the Los Angeles Times, we were on German TV a couple of months ago, so  I don't know if there's one thing, I would pack together all of the publicity we've gotten as something that we're super super grateful for. "

Baby Wasp: Normal watches in the and universal domination?

Matthew: "I don't know, you know some people would say that you should only start a business if you plan on being the biggest and the best there is out there, and I don't know if we want to be the biggest. I know we want to be the best, but when people think of being the best watch company they think that we wanna be Rolex or Tiffany or whatever.  We want to be the best for kick ass watches, we wanna be the best for watches that have an edge, have attitude, that are clever, that are fun. I don't know if that means global or universal domination, in fact it probably doesn't just because 'not everyone get's the joke', if you know what I mean? So maybe not global or universal domination, but we're definately going to step on a few toes on our way to the top. "

In 2009, Matthew and Shayne made 1 video per day to promote Normal Watches for one whole year. Here are a couple of videos from this series that made me smile. And mega respect to Matthew and Shayne for doing for 365 days, I know I clean my teeth 365 days a year...but create a video every day?...RESPECT guys!

I would love to create the soundtrack to my it just made sense to include Matthew's video of what wearing a Normal Watch would sound like. Immerse yourself for a few moments....

"Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist" has become a cult movie, and according to Matthew is the most structurally perfect romantic movie ever. Each watch is a different character, how Matthew remembers who is Nick, Norah, the Drunk girl, the 2 gay guys in the band, and Nick and Norah's exes I'm unsure. If you like the movie, watch it, Matthew's adaptation provided much amusement for me!

My favourite song from Nick and Norah by Devendra Banhart. It's not a music video or anything, you can study a non moving picture of Devendra for a few minutes, of feel the music and get up and dance. should get up and dance. Or just figure out how many different ways you can sit in a chair and move your shoulders to the beat. This one is for you Matthew! :)

You can follow Normal Watches on:

Massive thanks to Matthew, Shayne and the Normal Watches gang for giving us a kick ass way to wear our thoughts on our wrists!!


I speak with:
Australian and New Zealand paper Playground, "MAG NATION". Dip me in ink and throw me to Mag Nation, where all of my magazine wishes can come true!

The ridiculously amazing AMANDA VISELL. Painter, Toy Designer, Sculptor, and creator of things I only wish existed in my imagination. And to top it off, Amanda has worked with the likes of Kidrobot and Disney USA. Woah!

Until next time, Keep Yourself Nice!!

Baby Wasp

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