If you never try, you’ll never know
Chapter 1: Why Mama Moto
Let’s begin. Yes, let’s begin. But where do I begin ? One says that the most important in a story is a good start and a beautiful ending. The ending, I don’t know it yet. The start, here it is.
The starting point is my TR6. An old Triumph motorcycle from 1964. I fell in love at first sight, bought her right away in a vintage motorcycle exhibition. I didn’t even have my licence at that time but I knew it was the right choice. I could not explain why. She came to me, SHE chose me.
Thanks to this bike I met an extraordinary crew of women I’ve been traveling the world with. This group of «parisiennes» is named L’équipée. The Himalayan mountains, the Amazonia, the Pyrénées… We rode a few miles on two wheels together. Before that, I used to proudly wear my suit, right after graduating business school. I raised the flag of companies that weren’t made for me. I wasn’t sad, I wasn’t really happy either. But what actually did free me, was the road.
In October 2016, I’m hired for an advertising campaign shot in Cape Town, South Africa. Here I go, to the other side of the world in order to be a motorcycle model for a feminine hygiene products brand. If I had been told that before I wouldn’t have believed it…
Not having anything really important in my career at that time, I ask the production company to book my return flight 2 months later. Once the videoshoot done, I’m buying an old Honda to travel the whole country. At that time, I didn’t know that this journey would change my life.
Alone on my trail bike, I’m riding. Miles and miles of asphalt, gravel, sand and dirt. The white lines and the landscapes pass through, I’m focused, I can’t think of anything else than the present. The wind in my helmet becomes little by little my highest form of meditation. I’m free.
A second of hesitation and my front wheel get stuck in the sand. I come very close to flying over my motorcycle and I remember how ridiculous human is compared to the highest forces of nature. The fear of falling down in the middle of nowhere offers its share of pressure. It’s a good feeling. I must be aware of my surrounding. I’m feeling part of a universe that I must respect. I’m connected.
The Western Cape, the Karoo, the Wild Coast, Lesotho… and each time, new faces. The beautiful paradox of loneliness is that it makes encounters so exceptional.
One morning I meet Talia that I take to town on the back of my motorcycle. She lives 4 miles from her work and doesn’t have a car. She says she usually walks to get there, everyday. She works in a clothing factory. Everything is hand-made, solid, authentic.
The day after, Talia is waiting for me in front of my bed and breakfast, a blue shirt in her hands. She offers it to me as a gift. She made it herself, this blue shirt. I didn’t know it yet but I would wear this piece of clothe for the rest of my trip. She hugs me as hard as she can and thanks me for taking her to work the day before. In the afternoon, she introduces me to all the women of her family. They gave me the nickname of «Mama Moto».
My english being quite poor, I try to communicate as I can. The beautiful thing when you can’t really talk to a stranger is that he sees you as you appear to him. No labels. No bias.
I will remember these women my entire life.
A month later, I’m back in Paris. I see my family, my friends. I’m hanging out having drinks and telling my stories. I’m out partying, having fun. I’m happy but something’s missing. A direction, a path, a goal I would say. Cape Town is calling me.
While I’m wearing my blue shirt, I’m thinking about Talia and about these women that made all these amazing clothes. I’m highly admirative of those techniques because it’s something I always wanted to do. What is more rewarding than being self-sufficient in today’s society, where we don’t do anything ourselves anymore ? Making my own clothes ? Why not ?
After a few months working on my brand identity, my own little universe, I dive in. I leave my 25 square meters apartment in Paris, I sell my furnitures and I buy my ticket. In honour of the south-african women I met on my journey, I will call my brand Mama Moto. It won’t be easy but after all, if you never try you’ll never know…
Cape Town, here I come.