The Whole Story Behind The Name
THANK YOU DALIN FOR HELPING ME PUTTING MY THOUGHTS INTO WORDS.
When people asked me why I started Reamo I used to tell them about my time in high school. How I started out painting on denim jackets for friends, how I met my business partner and how we started a business together. I’ve told this story hundreds of times to hundreds of people, newspapers and everyone else. I’ve told it so many times that I’ve started to believe it myself. But the real story is a little bit different.
My business partner left Reamo recently and I had to decide if I wanted to continue this thing on my own. Let me tell you something: This was my first very big decision I had to make myself. And it had me scared as FUCK. How the fuck was I supposed to run a whole ass business all on my own?
I knew I wanted to keep doing this. But the better question was: Why? Like, why should I keep going? Or even better, why was I doing this in the first place?
So I started running the story back. You know, high school, painting on denim jackets…
And then I realized.
That was not it.
I had to go way back. Like way way back.
That’s where the real story about Reamo starts, the story I haven’t told anybody up to this point.
So let us go way way back.
I was born in Bangladesh and I grew up there with my lovely little family at my grandparents' house. My lovely little family didn’t include my father. He wasn’t there and I never really asked where he was. My mom used to tell me he is in „bidesh“ working for us. „Bidesh“ means abroad. I had no clue where this was at the time but I knew it was somewhere far away.
Since my father wasn’t around, my mom made sure I received double the amount of love. Her favorite thing to do with me was to go shopping.
Actually it was more like „shopping“.
We never actually ended up buying the stuff. We would just window shop most of the time.
I remember this one time, when I was about six years old, I really wanted this one red bike I had seen at the mall. My dream at this point was to become the Red Power Ranger so this bike fit that picture perfectly. I told my mom about it. She told me I couldn’t have it. This was the expected answer, but I still really wanted it. And my mom noticed this. So she told me „We don’t have the money for this right now. But maybe you can ask your dad to get it for your birthday, Ohnok.“
What a lot of you don’t know is that my real name is actually Ohnok. (more on this later)
So I asked my father for the bike. He said no as well.
The exact words were: „Our religion forbids celebrating birthdays. You can’t have the bike.“
I was wrecked.
But the thing is, I didn’t even know that celebrating birthdays was forbidden, because up to that point my mom had always gotten me a gift.
And she apologized to me. Like she told me she was sorry I couldn’t get this gift I wanted. She told that if I studied hard, I could get a good job. And then I could get as many bikes as I wish.
When I turned seven my mom told us we were moving to „bidesh“. She was really excited. I wasn’t. I still didn’t know where this „bidesh“ was.
I didn’t want to leave my friends, grandpa and grandma back. I didn’t even have any friends there. My mom told that in „bidesh“ I could be anything I ever wanted. Even the Red Power Ranger.
This lady knew how to convince me.
„Why aren’t we leaving yet?“ was my next question.
From this moment on I was counting down the days until I got to go there and become the Red Power Ranger.
A few days before we would leave Bangladesh, my father called me up. He told me this:
„As you know, you are coming here to live with me. But here your name can’t be Ohnok anymore. We are changing it to Omaer.“
Yo. What the fuck. Why?
My father didn’t like the name Ohnok because it stems from Buddhism.
I hated the new name.
It wasn’t my name. It wasn’t me. I didn’t even know how to pronounce it.
I started disliking this „bidesh“ place again.
And then the day came. We left Bangladesh. We made it to „bidesh“. My mom finally explained to me that it was actually called Austria. I liked the other name more.
For the first time in my life I saw white people that weren’t on the TV screen. I saw snow from the plane window and I was amazed. I told this to the security guard at the airport and expected him to be excited as well. But he just looked at me like I was talking nonsense. And then I realized.
People in Austria don’t speak Bengali.
And I cant’t turn myself to a Power Ranger.
I was disappointed in my mom.
I cried for months. I just wanted to see my family and friends again.
I didn’t belong here.
And I didn’t just feel like that. I knew that.
Since I was too old to go kindergarten, I had to start school right away. Not when the new school year started, but right away.
There I was, seven years old, couldn’t speak a word of the language, didn’t know a single person. They threw me to the wolves . If you know anything about elementary school kids, you know they are the worst little assholes out there.
During my first recess, this one kid came up to me and said something I couldn’t understand.
I didn’t have to, though. It wasn’t for me to understand, it was for everybody else. Thats why everybody else started laughing.
I just stared at him while he pointed at my clothes.
At my colorful bengali type dress.
People in Austria didn’t wear that type of clothes.
So at the age of seven I had my very first brush with racism. Because of my fucking clothes.
I asked my mom if we could go shopping like we used to and if I could buy some new clothes. My father overheard this conversation and answered instead of her. By answering I mean he yelled at me.
For wanting new clothes.
Because I already had clothes. Because only girls needed that much clothing.
He told me that buying into the western culture was bad for us.
That shit never made sense to me.
I guess I misunderstood the reason why we came over here.
Thankfully, my mom didn’t understand it either. She took me shopping and bought me this „Bob the Builder“ shirt. I loved that fucking shirt. I wore it every single day. It was my ticket out of getting bullied. And my ticket into this new society.
I feel like this shirt helped me survive elementary school.
Don’t get me wrong, there were still times that were real tough.
Like when I had to improvise eating with a fork and a knife on the spot when I ate over at a friends house. We don’t do that in Bangladesh.
Or all the times at school I acted like I knew all the Nintendo games or cartoons the kids spoke about. I didn't even have a TV or a Nintendo.
But I swear this shirt helped me through most of these times.
Because man, If you don’t feel comfortable in your skin at least make sure you feel comfortable in your clothes.
I made it through elementary school, I learned German and I made it into high school. I thought I was doing well, I went into that shit real confident.
The feeling didn’t last long.
On the very first day we got those little „Hello, My name is“ stickers and we had to introduce ourselves to the rest of the class.
When it was my turn, the teacher fucked up pronouncing my name so the whole class laughed.
When you ask most immigrants, almost every one of them has a story like this, but shits different when you are the only one around.
The mispronouncing stuck.
I felt that one feeling again.
People started making fun of my name because they couldn’t pronounce it.
All the little assholes from elementary school just grew up to be even bigger assholes. It was fun for them, but it made this period of my life hell.
Shit, the hatred for my name just grew stronger from here on out. Even now, when people ask me about my name, my heart starts to beat faster. I still have that irrational fear that they will make fun of my name.
A name that isn’t even really mine actually.
The first time around I fixed my problems with new clothes. I realized all the cool, popular kids wore the same cool clothes. So it wouldn’t hurt to try and do that again.
Bob the Builder wasn’t cool anymore. Adidas Tracksuits were cool.
Adidas Tracksuits were also expensive.
I couldn’t afford them. They were my Austrian version of the red bike from the mall in Bangladesh.
Around this time I met this other Bengali guy I owe a whole lot too.
I met Ariful .
Ariful was the coolest guy around. Everybody loved Ariful.
Everybody wanted to be friends with Ariful and Ariful wanted to be friends with me.
So I had to make the best of it. I asked him how to be more like him. He looked at me and said: „Yo, first of all, you need a better haircut“.
Until I was eleven years old, I got my hair cut by my father or at the local mosque.
I asked my father if I could get my hair cut in a barbershop by a real barber.
He told me no.
I did it anyway. He didn’t know how cool Ariful was.
I got to decide my own haircut for the first time in my life.
I looked into the mirror and I already felt way cooler. But as I was looking at my hair, I realized that there was no way I could ever hide it from my father.
I bought a hat that day and wore it the whole time at home. Even while sleeping, I was so scared.
My father noticed this the very next morning. I mean sleeping with a hat on is weird as fuck, but I had to hide it somehow.
He made me take the hat off.
I took it off in slow motion. I don’t know if actually did it like that, but it sure felt like it.
I got yelled at again.
„This is not why I brought you to Bidesh“.
„You are never going to achieve anything in your life like this“.
I learned to ignore this voice. The voice that I heard everyday. The voice that told me that I wasn’t good enough and that I was going to have a hard life.
I eventually got that Adidas tracksuit. I didn’t even want it anymore. I realized I didn’t like it. I realized I didn’t need it. I didn’t need what everybody else wore or what was cool or expensive. Your own personal style doesn’t have to rely on brands. I learned to create outfits I liked on my own.
I made friends through this. I could make new friends through my clothes.
I used to get hated because of them.
My whole life I used to be that scared little kid trying not to draw attention to myself because I was scared that I was too different. And now I’m going out of my way trying to be different and people are taking a liking to that.
I remember one day I was out shopping with Ariful and we couldn’t find anything we liked. We got to talking about how cool it would be if we could make our own clothes so we’d always have something we liked that we could wear.
The seed for Reamo was planted in my head.
But then Ariful said his parents would have killed him if he didn’t become an engineer.
He was right. I couldn’t make clothes. My parents would be disappointed.
Then one day at school, I was bored during recess with some friends and we started to talk about my name. One friend said „Well, maybe you’d like it more if you wrote it backwards?“
He was right. I liked it more.
It was special. I could pronounce it. I took the name which wasn’t really mine and I made it my own.
Just like the clothes before it, this gave me new confidence.
You see, throughout all this shit, my clothes got me through it one way or another. I realized I could express my emotions through them. I could make my clothes speak for me. So I wanted to pass this on.
I wanted to create something that could help other people realize the same.
So yeah, Reamo as a company started out with me painting on denim jackets, meeting my business partner and starting it together. But Reamo as an idea started out the moment my mom bought me that Bob the Builder shirt.
But this idea got lost somewhere along the way.
I started seeing it more from the business perspective. I lost the connection to the pieces that represented the struggle. For the first time in my life, I had made lot of money. I started to spend it on expensive and useless things to impress people. Like back in school when I pretend to like Adidas tracksuits.
And as much as it pains me to say it, I forgot why was I doing it.
Or who I was doing it for.
So that’s why I’m started a new Reamo.
For the people with stories to tell.
For people who feel like they are not good enough.
For people that want to express themselves.
People have told me that producing in Bangladesh had a bad rep. That I should move it to somewhere like Portugal or Italy. I thought about it too.
But at the end of the day, even if I would save a lot on imports and taxes and fees, I could never bring myself to do it. It’s because of the people that work there. We have our own design studio with our own employees. My uncle assured me they were doing well but I had to see for myself.
I visited them.
I worked with them.
I ate with them.
I lived with them.
Those people are like my second family. They never had the opportunity to pursue a higher education or the privilege to choose their path in life. But I did.
So I feel like I have to give something back. They are a big support in my life and I owe them the same thing. I owe a lot of people a lot of things.
The whole Reamo team
People who bought my stuff
All these people are the reason why I’m sitting here and writing this.
Why I made it this far.
My family for making a dream tangible.
You for taking the time to read this .
Ariful for giving a young me hope.
My mom for things I would need another 20 pages to list.
And to my father.
For never believing in me.