After a fulfilling career in the leather goods industry in the UK, the founder of MYWALIT Chris Howell moved to Italy with his family. During his supposed retirement he felt a wave of creativity, and so began the idea that became a brand. We sat down with him to talk about creative energy, terracotta pots and how he’s become busier than ever since retirement!
What kickstarts your creative process?
“I would say categorically that creativity starts with enthusiasm. MYWALIT was the culmination of coming here to Italy and feeling liberated. None of us had any idea that it would be as successful as it has become. The process of meeting people along the way and building that enthusiasm for the idea was galvanising. People gave their true emotions to MYWALIT, which makes it a very honest, genuine product.”
How do you collaborate creatively with others?
“Listening to people is an incredibly important part of the process. And that must be an ongoing intention, as the project develops. A group of people, openly sharing ideas, is going to produce something wonderful.”
“However, as you get bigger, politics steps in. The more voices there are, the more space there is for broader scope, but also for potentially conflicting ideas. So it’s important to have developed by that point a strong idea of your project in order to hold on to the essence of it, while still allowing other people to contribute creatively.”
“The soul of MYWALIT is in creating and matching colours. All the colours.”
How do you feel MYWALIT has changed you?
“It was terribly satisfying, on a personal level. Business is a double edged sword you see, so I felt very grateful that we had people who were prepared to put the business side together which allowed me and others to dedicate our energy to the creative side. My greatest satisfaction was seeing that people actually wanted to come to work.”
In 2012, Chris and his family made the decision to move back to England. He took more of a back seat in the business, leaving others to carry on his legacy. He is now back in Italy, still finding new projects for his boundless enthusiasm.
What do you enjoy investing your creative energy in now?
“I’ve just been to Monsagrati, which is a tiny little town up a mountain, and picked up two huge terracotta pots that someone was throwing away. That’s what I like spending my energy on right now! The house I live in, 90% of the items have been bought second-hand. That’s the other great passion in my life. My wife and I hope to turn this place into a bed-n-breakfast, when people can start travelling again. She makes great vegan and gluten-free food.”