Shyft was grateful to sit down with Bobby Barzi, chief dada and creative visionary behind Fodada. Fodada is a company built around the invaluable relationship between fathers and their children. When Bobby is not dreaming big about Fodada's future or designing clothing, he can be seen out on the streets of Orange County with his boys, living and loving the fatherly life. Bobby inspired us with his powerful vision for Fodada, and why taking small, simple steps to be a conscious parent can be the most invaluable gift of all.
Shyft: Can you share the inspiration behind starting Fodada?
Bobby: The inspiration was the incredible experience of becoming a dad. I became a father in 2008, when I had my son Pierce. Having a son had a dramatic effect on my entire life. I loved it- it was unbelievable in every way, shape and form. It was centering, and it really got me thinking about my own life.
At the time, I was working for an international IT firm on US and European operations. I was fortunate that I had a great deal of flexibility and was able to spend so much time with my son. Being a dad became my life, in a big way! It opened up the opportunity for me to really grow as a parent, partner and person. I couldn’t get enough of it. I felt so much better as a person- and a shift started to happen. Three years later, I had my second son, Royce. I was overjoyed and inspired; having a second son just took everything to another level.
As I spent time with my sons, celebrating this amazing relationship, I was able to meet other dads in the neighborhood. I realized that we were all having the same incredible experiences, joys and challenges included. It became clear that something was missing from the landscape of how people viewed the experience of fatherhood. This is how the idea for Fodada was born.
If I could somehow impact a group of fathers in a way that was positive, that effect would be compounded and that impact would multiply across the board: kids, partners, self, community.
But how could I best do that? I contemplated joining a charity or nonprofit but at that time there really wasn't anything serving at that level that I envisioned. So, I started Fodada, a company committed to celebrating and promoting what a great dad can and should mean to a child, a spouse, a family and community. Fodada was born in 2012.
I recognized that Fodada needed to inspire an open ended dialogue between dads and families that extended beyond specific-moments and activities. I wanted something tangible, something that continued the conversation over a long period of time while keeping us connected and empowered. That was the main reason I created a clothing line. Clothing seemed right because it touches everyone and that was important to me. Clothing is something people love, is reasonably priced and is a way to represent our intentions.
Shyft: What are some challenges you had to overcome in starting Fodada?
Bobby: Our initial challenge was how to create something that tells a logical story. Once we articulated our vision, the challenge then became, how do we do more, how do we become multidimensional? Thats where our programing came in. We now organize and collaborate on national and global programs such as The Tee that Could, Dad and Me, Womens International Defense Day, Atjoni Library, and Red Beanie Bond. But we are still growing. There is so much to do.
Shyft: These are some pretty powerful initiatives. Of these programs, have any surprised you in terms of reach and influence?
Bobby: The Dad and Me program. Its very simple but powerful--how can we create opportunities for fathers and sons to spend time together? Today, there is so much data that supports how important this is. Every part of the household and community benefits when fathers spend time with their children. It benefits everyone!
In the next 6-12 months, Dad and Me will extend to a national and global level. We want to organize a day for cities, universities, sports establishments and businesses to celebrate the bond between dads and kids. This could be a “Bring Kids to the Office Day" or a city festival. The main goal is for kids, dads, and partners to walk away knowing how good time together feels!
When children feel that it is a priority for their parents to spend time with them, they will carry that knowledge into their future relationships. That is the legacy I hope to leave for them.
The second program I love is Womens International Defense Day. The national and global reach of these self defense classes for women has been amazing. I’ve been been asked why Fodada creates programs specifically for women. Every man has a women that is incredibly important to him, be it his wife sister, mom, friends, friends' daughters... their safety and empowerment is critical to all of us. I need my sons to understand how important it is to empower the women around us. At the end of the day, we want to promote balance, in households, and in larger communities. Everyone, male or female, should have a voice, be supported, and feel comfortable and safe.
Shyft: I’ve heard you say the best gift you we can give a child is time. That feels very close to my heart. Can you tell me about how spend time with your kids?
Bobby: I love doing everything with them! I love just talking to them. I love learning their thoughts and questions. It doesn’t have to be deep. I have fond memories of conversations with my parents and grandparents, and I love being able to create the same feeling with my kids.
I’ve learned there is something special about having these conversations one on one, where they are not looking to impress, compete, or seek validation from one another. Just individual quality time with dad. Oh and I love dancing with them. WE LOVE DANCING!
Honestly, I can’t think of anything I don’t like doing with them. I even enjoy the simple non-moments where it is just about the connection. In fact, those in-between, non-moments are my my favorite memories as a son.
Shyft: What would you say is the simplest meditation or mindfulness tool that creates the largest shift for you?
Bobby: I just try to value all my experiences with gratitude. I make it a point to sit and reflect, and convert that appreciation into positive energy. I find this helps me to navigate through the more challenging situations in life. It is important for me to feel connected in that way.
Shyft: What inspires you?
Bobby: My kids of course! But also the unknown in life. I think the beauty of life is that you don’t have control over what will happen. Life can be so rapid, like a river. I can either thrash and not get anywhere, or I can chose to be calm and appreciate the beauty of the experience. When I recognize the power in that, it makes it easier to navigate any situation. That's the amazing picture I keep in my head. That's where I find my clarity, comfort and direction.
Learn more about Bobby and Fodada over at www.fodadawear.com.