What’s for you never has be explained. Showing through certain moments in one’s life, Founder of CISE, Blake Van Putten breathes the meaning of opportunities presenting themselves. As Van Putten’s mindset breaks the lengths of generational curses, so does the voices of many who are given the platform of recognition by protecting the black community at all costs.
What was the main thing you wanted to be different for you brand?
I really believe in what I call incremental value add. So, at my previous job, I noticed that watches were really big for men, staple timepieces. I wanted to create something that over time holds weight that people would still want and increases in its value over time. With the brand, I think the community component is way different than other brands. And it’s almost kind of intertwining with the people that you would like to compete against in a traditional sense, right? Like you’ll see other companies, there’ll be other handbag companies or accessory companies, and we’ll host events with them. And then you’ll be in that place of just really tying the art of community. That’s how we’re trying to do the lens of it, where people wear a bag and people wear a full sweat suit, but they’re taking the brand with them like part of the community. So, I really believe in that. And just throughout that, the brand is really more so a lifestyle for people. As they envision themselves with it, where they just feel aligned with it, that’s what we’re focused on.
Can you give insight for creating CISE’S Protect Black Women bags?
It’s interesting, we started initially with our first collection as protect black people. As things transcribed went from T shirts to hoodies, to genuine leather handbags, I then wanted to come out with different varieties of it. But I got a lot of feedback from the people around me. Traditionally, if I were to pick a bag, I would pick a backpack or briefcase. So, when it comes down to knowing what goes into a perfect handbag, I’m leaning on other people that would help me figure that out. A lot of people from my team, have been customers and they’ve pitched what they like for the company. We take what the audience really asked for because I didn’t coin the phrase and to say that is just not accurate but building with the community and the purpose of what that is, we came out with different varieties of it. We just have these subsidiaries of different places and environments of community that led to the products that we invent.
Do you think it held its representation in the most positive way?
Yes. And I think that no matter what, us being part of the black community, we drive that culture, and we drive that change. It’s my personal responsibility of a brand to make sure that we represent that just as well. We’re not the driving force, the community is, and it comes down to every aspect of how you represent. Each piece has to be very thoughtful, where if we’re going to take a photo of a handbag, we’re not putting the handbag on the floor, because like superstitions, you’ll go broke.
Tell me about your journey so far as the founder.
Well, I went to school at Howard. Then I lived in New York for three years, soon after I broke my ankle. I moved back to LA to have surgery, which forced me to slow down because I was living a really, really fast life, I was just working nonstop. That’s when I reset and wanted to do something community driven. It was a challenging component where you really start to think about yourself a lot. It’s almost like trying to prevent transition disorder when you have just so many changes happening in your life from it. But you start to realize and celebrate getting through things. So, I’ve had a lot of lot of highs, I’ve had lows, but the lows that we’ve had, and that I’ve had personally have just been parts of the highs.
How does it feel knowing that your work has presented to be helpful in the black community?
I’m happy, but I don’t feel as if I can be the only person to accomplish the task by myself. I really strive for that, like, even just the brand in itself and how big it’s gotten. The part that’s bigger to me is the conversations that it makes other businesses have, that may not be our demographic. That’s the part that people are really watching.
Overall, would you say that you are proud for the work you’ve put in as an artist?
Yeah! I had a conversation with one of my best friends and the only thing is when you have your personal brand, there’s not really a metric to determine if you’re accomplished unless you win. You’re kind of always looking for a label to discover it. But then when I kind of removed myself, instead of trying to have that big award, I just did what I was doing. And every event, every moment, every release, I get to see part of that art come out. It’s such a beautiful feeling. So, I’m super, super proud of that.
What can we expect in the future for you and you designs?
I would say, expect a lot of interactivities with designs. We’ve done a few events within the community. Within that we’ll have like QR codes and stuff that we’ve got that going. But really tying in the art of being present with these new designs.
What message would you give to yourself looking back at all you’ve accomplished?
To take care of yourself, it’s so funny that you’ll go out of your way to really try to accomplish certain things. But when you really take care of yourself, you realize you’re all you have. And if you don’t take care of yourself, whether physically, mentally, spiritually, you don’t have anything. So really just take care of yourself.