Louis Boria, from Brooklyn Boy Knits is currently the world’s most famous handicraftsman. This young New Yorker engaged in knitting is the best proof that this ancient/traditional skill is not meant just for ladies but can be interesting and lucrative as well. After a photos and video of Luis knitting in the NY metro became viral, reaching millions of views, life of this young man changed completely, and in accordance with its goal of further promotion of traditional crafts Kukica did an interview with him.
Luise, first of all, let us thank you for agreeing to give this interview.
For starters, we would like to introduce our readers and creatives from the Balkans with the very beginnings of your story. We understood that this story begins with a dream, more precisely with an awakening – could you provide us with more details on that matter.
Yes, I started knitting ten years ago, before that I never even held knitting needles – I worked at the hospital, a standard job from 9 to 5. However, one morning I woke up to saw my hands knitting the air, repeating some patterns and all of this was somehow magically unusual. I had a feeling I had possessed this skill all along and that day I went to a local handicraft shop, bought a book about knitting, needles and material. I had no clue whatsoever about any of this. Strange forms, patterns – nothing was clear to me. I was strolling through the book, trying to do something and then started following YouTube channels. So the learning process began and I must say that I was very persistent and spent thousands of hours exercising . At the very beginning I made these creations for myself, but I also made them for my friends and was giving them as a gift.
So, just like many others you started knitting for friends, so you could make unique handmade gifts. Tell us when did you start receiving orders, or when did you start making money of your skill?
As I said, at the beginning I was just doing it for friends, but at one point people started liking what I did and the first orders followed. Slowly but surely, the business started developing.
So, at first you relied on “mouth-to-mouth” marketing?
Yes, you could say that – friends of my friends started ordering various items and so the whole thing started to spread. I was working at the hospital and was seriously engaged in knitting at the same time.
How did you manage to accomplish everything? It’s not easy doing a daily job and dediced yourself to a handcraft simultaniously.
Yes, at first I managed to achieve both. I worked at the hospital and on my way home I would be knitting in the metro. At first I had the problem relaxing because, as you know, knitting today is associated with ladies and grannies and everything. It is very unusual to see the man knitting. But then I realized – just like everything else in life, you have to accept what you love, what fulfills you, no matter what your environment thinks about it. Only by following your dreams and believing in them you can feel free and fully enjoy the life.
Is it wrong to say that this is actually a spiritual experience that has helped you advance your spiritual development?
Good remark. By doing something that fulfills you and gives joy to you and other people, you simply cannot but to feel spiritual growth. This does not apply only to knitting. You should always follow your soul, what she tells to you and where it leads you. Do not forget the journey! People often concentrate too much on reaching the goal, thus disremembering that the journey toward the goal is what is important. All things happening to us on this journey, both good and bad, that’s what we are made of. We are to learn something from them, because if we don’t, the journey is wasted. Finally, when we draw all the conclusions, it is crucial to stay true to ourselves and always remember who we are and where we came from.
Yes, we agree that this is the right direction of development to follow – whether we are engaged in knitting or anything else. But let us return to the story of growth. You told us how you learned from the books and YouTube channels. YouTube is really a great community of creative people who selflessly share their knowledge with those who want to learn. How important is the community and what it provides for you?
Community is the key. There are people who are willing to share knowledge and it is very important that this knowledge be transferred later on. That is why communities are of vital importance for individual but also for collective growth – without a good community there is no transfer of knowledge, preservation of tradition, and its improvement. What you receive you are obliged to give back in some way and one of the them is by enabling someone to learn new things. That’s the way the life works – what goes around comes around.
You worked at a hospital and helped people to heal, to feel better – one could say that everything good you did has returned to you. But you do not you stop there; we learned that one school is about to include your knitting program into its curriculum. How important is it for you and for the knitting craft in general?
Yes, after the photo and video went viral I was contacted by the administration board of a local elementary school expressing desire to establish cooperation. Then the idea of launching the project came about and a pilot program is now underway. The goal of this project and my personal hope as well is that results after the first year will set an example for other schools to follow by including knitting into their educational program.
We know how modern generation is dependent on technology, mobile phones and the Internet and how detrimental is that on their health. In this way, we want to involve the children and give them the opportunity to have fun and to create. We know how fine motor skills are important for kids and this will greatly contribute to their growth and development. The program also introduces boys and girls because first of all we want to break the prejudice that certain types of fine manual work are just for female gender. We know that in ancient times the sailors knitted and crocheted all they needed themselves. Today, social constructions have led us to think knitting is meant just for women.
Unfortunately, we have to agree with you because today it’s extremely rare to see a man knitting, you’ve been doing that for many years, but this latest event with viral photography and video, raised everything to a higher level. This photograph has changed everything. Can you tell us more about this experience and relate it with the power of the internet?
One day I was travelling back home by metro and I was knitting as usual. I did not know that the star of the American Idol was sitting across taking pictures of me knitting. I came home tired after a long day and went to bed. Tomorrow in the inbox I found numerous massages from my friends saying: Heey, you overwhelmed Facebook! – Nothing was clear to me, I saw Frenchie Davis photographed me and shared the photo. I thanked her in the comment section and she was delighted by that and even more delighted when I told her i was actually just following my dream. After that I was interviewed by 60 Docs and this interview reached over 31 million of views. This in itself shows the power of the internet. One day you are known to a small group of people and the next day millions and millions hear about you. For the first time in ten years I have pending orders. I’m pretty quick; nevertheless my customers sometimes need to wait three to four weeks for delivery.
Today you certainly have a lot more work considering the number of orders you receive every day – how do you manage to accomplish it all and what is the key to this success?
I have found and included more creative people who help me achieve accomplish everything Wintertime/cold season is slowly passing here, but at the same time days are getting colder in certain parts of the world. For this reason, now I’m highly focused on Australia and people from that part of the world, as well..
Thank you for your time and for giving us the opportunity to learn more about you and your work. Do you have any message for our community and creative people from the rest of the Balkans?
Stay true to yourself, your dream; do not forget that this is all about learning and progress. Help each other! I wish you all the success in your future endeavors to improve your community and I hope we stay in touch.
(Autorska prava na ovaj Intervju su zadržana. Kopiranje teksta ili njegovih djelova su strogo zabranjena. Fotografije korištene u intervjuu su preuzete sa Facebook profila Louis Borie, stranice Brooklyn Boy Knits, Leographic Photography. English version is translated from serbian version of interview)