Anton Janssens is the co-owner of Komono, a minimalistic accessoires brand. He founded Komono back in 2009 together with Raf Maes.
Could you introduce yourself?
I’m Anton, I am the founder and designer of everything Komono does. My background is quite diverse. I have studied the training engineer and besides that I was very into the skate scene and snowboard scene. I did that as a professional.
Is that the reason why you have a skaterramp at the office?
Yes, yes I think that is something interesting. Many of those people who were in the skate scene at that time and have business or brands now, approach the industry with a whole different attitude. You had to be stubborn and really want to do your own thing, because your parents were often against it, because they didn’t know what you were doing. But you just had to think ; fuck it. I got this.
And actually, that attitude is still here. If you ask me what KOMONO is, I want to do things differently. Even if people apply for KOMONO, and I notice that they got ideas I have already seen. I will ask them to take a step back, because there must be something different and innovative, because that is the soul of Kimono.
And the skate and snowboard scene are the core that has developed to what we are doing today. The KOMONO, “attitude”..
How did it all start?
I have done a lot of distribution in the past for other brands. I noticed that I had a lot of comments on their way of working. I thought it was never good enough how they did it, because there is always room for improvement. At one point, I started to think that I had to try it by myself, since I had a lot of commented a lot about it. From that point I worked out everything step by step.
Did you already have a lot of experience in the industry?
Nope, nothing, nada. We had absolutely no experience and to be honest, I think that is the biggest advantage we have ever had. When I talk to people in the industry, they say the same thing. Otherwise you won’t have any freedom and that freedom is very important to me. You have to forget everything, just do your thing and the rest doesn’t interest me, hahaha.
What keeps you satisfied?
I try to be as positive as possible, that is a very important aspect in life. With negativity nothing will work. There should always be laughter
Why did you guys start a glasses and watch brand?
Glasses and watches are products that contains identity, it says a lot about a personality. And if I talk for my self, I’m very attracted by the passion for design. The other side was also the business side. 8 years ago luxury accessible weren’t trendy yet, now you see it more and more. But at that time I thought; This is something that does not exist yet, it took my attention. For me that was another fuck it moment. which got me thinking; I’m going to do it!
What makes KOMONO so special?
That’s a tough one … I find it particularly if I can call it so, because the fact that an idea in your head can be visualized and it works out well? That keeps amazing me. I don’t feel like I am a some God or something, I’m just a farmboy from Belgium. But it gives energy. Receiving feedback from people, seeing people with KOMONO products, it gives me so much energy. I want to see KOMONO as a company with 60 people. A company where everyone can create their own boundaries and I want to accompany them in that process. I think that’s the nicest part of the job.
Which model is your favorite?
The watch Orsum, because of the 7 angles. Surely this is something else, but not too different. An product of Komono will always be accessible. It may differ from the standard image, but it doesn’t have to be different to be different. The sunglasses named Shaun are my favorite and the collection that we present today of course. The design of Shaun is a model I suggested a few years ago. 5 years ago we were working on the frames and I remember that I said; “we have to do it” and that they thought it would be risky. I was wondering if I had to consider this, but then I thought; “I started with the fuck you mentality.” Then we need to keep that mentality. We did it anyway and now it is one of the top selling models. It has a strong identity, but also not too bombastic to be bombastic.
Last year KOMONO launched their first flagship store in Antwerp. How did that go?
The people received the concept very good. They experience the vibe. However, it could go better. There is room for change, we have definitely created a new space in Antwerp. Sometimes I try to go too quickly for the a short amount of time. Opened four stores, but the content needs to get better, I think. We need a warmer feeling and more soul in it. The exact same soul that we put in our product and design. I think that it still not completely match with the vibe in the store. A faster anticipation on the people and the activating aspect seems to be something to me where we can develop in. The box is correct but the content in the box needs to be a bit better, but that comes within time. But the image is definitely aesthetically correct.
Could you tell us a bit about the Summer Collection?
* ⁃ Anton: It is a collection that I am very proud of. Because it is innovative, but still simple, pure and strong. For me, it was a collection in which the philosophy of KOMONO very strong returns in the products. So if we communicate it also must be strong. Sometimes you have marketers whose say those things that we want to perform is dangerous, but I think it is important that we keep continuing to show identity. And I think that this collection includes that. The campaign images are also super nice. I can only hope that everybody experience this vibe as much as I do.
What is your five year plan?
I will be very positive in life, as I already am. I just try to be as positive as possible, that is a very important aspect in life. Nothing will work out with negativity. There should always be laughed.
I’m always in a need for innovation. In the end, it’s always a fragile moment when you work something out, because you put your heart & soul to create something and eventually ask people what they think of it. If people don’t like it, yes you can feel that sometimes feel. There will always be a bit tension on how people will experience your work. We are now 8 years later from when it all started and everyday I learn something new. I would love to have some more confidence about that. Just like; Anton even though you are so stressed out by all the things, everything will be alright. In addition, it is nice to see how the product comes alive and you can see the products on the right people, that provides a good feeling. The vision that I have turns into reality.
Do you want to give a tip to up-and-coming creatives?
Do it! You can overthink yourself, but the lead is just do it. The ultimate drive is the passion. You’ll be guaranteed to fall. But it’s the passion that makes you always will continue. So do it, fight for it. The idea to do it for the money is not going to work, because if you follow your passion it will comes naturally. The core is to fall, stand up and learn from your mistakes. If you don’t make mistakes in the beginning, it means that you don’t want tot hink outside the box. You have to get out your comfortzone and then it gets interesting. If someone never has a problem, I don’t trust it.
I prefer that someone says; Shit, I screwed it up rather then not willing to make mistakes. From that point it will be something that you want to improve.