I was introduced to Matt Williams and his Chin Up youth work program 2 days ago, those who follow my personal instagram may already know this. My first interaction with Matt was actually serendipitous. Matt had just placed a web order on ichpig.com for some black fight pants and a camo longsleeve tee. I personally check every web order placed and was pretty impressed by the get up. So I decided to personally text him to both thank him for the support and congratulate him on sporting one of my personally rotated kits ahaha! Matt then quickly replied, "I am actually in the middle of emailing you guys now about this program I run". I read the email quickly and texted him back "I am in, what's the dates?".
Fast forward to today and I was introduced/guest spoke at my first Chin Up workshop run by Matt at Tarneit Secondary, ironically a 3 min drive from where I skate regularly and where I went to high school. I was honestly mind blown by how switched on this guy was with the program that he has created from scratch, much like the humble garage beginnings of Ichpig. Focusing on Identity and providing self driven opportunity to young adults Melbourne wide, Matt's self-awareness has developed around his own evolutionary process, which allows him to stand alongside others who are struggling as a non-judgemental mentor. And make no mistake, he does this so seamlessly he had me nodding along the whole session.
Matt is a firm believer in the change that can be created in sharing his story and thus mine. One of his major focus points was identity and what that meant. "Who are you?" He asked one of the students repeatedly, to which we all gave him some pretty confused looks. He elaborated, "age, ethnicity, culture, sexuality..." and so on it went. It really got me thinking about what defines me and obviously Matt wanted me to relate it back to how it fed into Ichpig. Ichpig translates to "A relentless progression fuelled by one's own hunger" Where Ich is one in Japanese and the pig is the relentless hunger. I guess you would say Ichpig defines me and as a team member, I define it. I explained to the class how I was never the smartest but always the hungriest. I set my eyes on something, what ever that is and chase it relentlessly through success and failure, always pushing for more knowledge and understanding. I was never afraid of barriers or social statuses in my way, "if you aint falling, you aint trying".
Above are some pics of the exercises we did about the negatives and positive of being a man in today's world. It was really refreshing to see the brothers from the class have similar values to me. I really aligned with Matt's theory of how the media and society now expects young man to be tough, staunch and keep problems to themselves. Honestly as Matt said, "That is total bullshit". Myself and thus Ichpig is what it is because we are honest, open and thoughtful. Obviously we give a shit about where our gear is made, and we always try our best to do the right thing be it with our customers or supporting local manufacturing. Consideration and communication I feel are so important in these areas of reaching out to people young and old who maybe don't quite fit the mould.
Anyways it's been a humbling 6 months for me as I personally undertake and expand my role here at Ichpig, this being one of those experiences. It's going to be really exciting building a workshop around relentlessness with Matt. Helping effect social change through these workshops and not just our ethical Melbourne Made garments, has been a dream of ours from the beginning. Its fucking epic that I and we as a company are the position to give back like this. This is the first of in a couple of huge projects that will be shortly revealed, which will put our humble little city on the world stage and spread some good into the world! Give Chin Up Project a scope and watch some of the clips on how Matt is effecting social change in his own unique way.
Stay hungry, stay humble and BACK YOUR HOOD