Back in 1999, Ami Ganiel and Dan Keller were just two friends who were making money out of their backpacks by selling backdrops and clothes they had collected in their adventures all over Asia. Today, they celebrate the 20th anniversary of the brand that came to be the synonym of Ethno-punk having seven flagship shops in Europe, Asia and South America. We interrogated them to find out more about how everything started and where they see Psylo in the future.
What does Psylo mean to you?
Ami: Psylo is an extension of myself as it reflects my lifestyle, values and belief system. Psylo is many things to me: an outlet for my creativity, an engine to generate money, a channel to educate and inspire others to express themselves and to collaborate, and a brand that above all promotes the importance of being a better human being, kind to others and to our environment. All the members of our team shares the same morals and values and in their own way are all trying to become a better person and create a better world.
Dan: Psylo has been giving me the opportunity to live my life the way I want, the way I choose - and this is very meaningful to me. Psylo has been for me a personal journey for the last 20 years; it is tied to many people, friendships, places, values, challenges and lots of learning about myself.
Psylo's co-founders: Dan Keller (left) and Ami Ganiel (right).
"My journey with Psylo taught me valuable lessons about responsibility."
This multifaceted journey enabled me to see life with different lights and shades and leave behind views and approaches I grew up with which were not naturally mine; my soul has been liberated from what was limiting and I have become more light and loving to all, I became who I truly, naturally am.
I believe that satisfaction and happiness in life have nothing to do with expectations, money or the thought of how wealthy one will be in the future... They only have to do with the present moment, with life right now, and with the decision to be considerate, sensitive and caring to others both in your personal life and professional life - for me there is no separation between these two anyway.
My journey with Psylo taught me valuable lessons about responsibility, especially towards the people who work for us and depend on the money the company is making, but also towards the customers who invest their money in our products – because this investment is what makes my life, and the lives of everyone working with Psylo possible.
What were the stages of this 20-year long journey and which were the biggest transformations Psylo went through?
Ami: The transformations of Psylo in the last 20 years have been huge. So did our personal transformations too; we are not the same people that we were 20 years ago and when one evolves, the same happens to one’s creative process and thought process as well.
"Everything started when Dan and I came up with the idea to make money out of our backpacks while traveling and experiencing life and cultures in other parts of the world."
Psylo's original festivals shop, circa 1999.
The Ethno-punk style was born when our inspiration and personal styles, the fabrics we were sourcing and our values came together… Everything started when Dan and I came up with the idea to make money out of our backpacks while traveling and experiencing life and cultures in other parts of the world. We wanted to find a way to support this lifestyle – and in those days, I remind you, working online was not an option. From selling out of our backpacks, the first transformation was when we started wholesaling to boutiques (shops like Toonzshop, Ceiba and more). In the beginning just by using our stock and later on by getting also orders. The next stage was when we realised that if we wanted “proper” orders, we should have a “proper” collection and a catalogue; this would later develop into two collections a year, a summer and a winter one, which is the format that we still have today.
It also became clear to us that if we are to make Psylo what we wanted it to be, we couldn’t do it on our own. We called in a friend graphic designer (Jerome Radoux) and we worked with him to develop our visual identity, which is still the base of the one we have till this day. We also needed a female touch, so we contacted our talented friend Shoki Nasseri who helped us design the women section of our collection - and later, along with Ami, designed and created a beautiful family with two kids. The collection finally started to be more complete, and we continued to collaborate with other freelance artists to enrich it.
"It also became clear to us that if we are to make Psylo what we wanted it to be, we couldn’t do it on our own."
Soon enough we realised that there were not enough boutiques in the world that would be interested to stock our clothing line so the next step, inevitably, was to open our first Psylo shop - and then the second one, the third… The natural development of the brand included the launch of more concept shops - whilst always remaining a compressed, targeted niche brand – to the point where we finally transformed from a ‘family style’ business to a more autonomous system, that would be able to function and even develop without a constant ‘babysitter’, so that we could also devote our energy in different directions in our personal lives.
Evolution of Psylo's visual identity.
Dan: Psylo is evolving all the time, sometimes with big steps and sometimes with smaller ones. This evolution is always connected to what people in Psylo are going through, as we believe that our personal needs are strongly tied and reflect the ones of our customers.
In the physical world, I think the biggest step of the brand was when we opened our own concept stores and were able to present Psylo’s lifestyle and vision not only in our clothes but also in the way the shops look, in all their details. There, we invite people to come and connect with our team at a more personal level. We want them to feel at home and to experience the full picture of what Psylo is all about.
"It is possible to make a living and make money without trying to make everything cheaper by paying less the people that are working hard for the success of the business."
In the mental world, the most important moment for me was when I realised that the way Psylo started - through traveling, enjoying and exploring life with a natural flow without forcing absolutely anything - is the best way for the brand to continue evolving. Because the people that got connected to us and decided to do business with us were drawn to Psylo precisely because of that. There is not only one way of doing business - the ‘traditional way’ - and there is no need to be like other businesses and compare yourself to other businesses or to other people. It is possible to make a living and make money without trying to make everything cheaper by paying less the people that are working hard for the success of the business.
Psylo's First Photoshoot
What are you proud of the most about Psylo?
Ami: I am proud of the concept we created: a profitable business, which is doing good to us and to the world as well, a win-win for whoever is part of it. Also a brand that inspires people to see that there is another way to live, work and evolve at the same time, to be part of a change that will start with the change of consciousness and the mind frames of people in our world, a brand that shows that profit for one does not mean a loss for others.
Dan: I am proud of all of us, all the people who are working for Psylo and with Psylo – the majority of whom have been with us for a very long time, and are all doing their best to take care of themselves, and of Psylo.
Do you have any regrets regarding your journey with Psylo?
Ami: Regret is the inability to forgive oneself for a valuable life lesson which is falsely perceived as a failure.
Dan: Sometimes things are not going as I hoped they would. But I know that I’m doing my best, and that nothing depends solely on me, so I fully appreciate and accept the way things come as they are. So no, I have no regrets.
Psylo Concept Store in Playa Del Carmen
"I find inspiration in living life… In what I see, what I learn, where I travel, in the people who surround me, the culture in which I live in."
How do you keep yourself inspired after all these years?
Ami: How we are getting inspired all the time... That’s a weird but common question - I’m afraid that my answer will be that I don't really know!
There is no beautiful story here. I find inspiration in living life… In what I see, what I learn, where I travel, in the people who surround me, the culture in which I live in. New concepts give my brain a rush, deep meditation connects me to my heart, Yoga, taiji and qigong connect me to my body. But also, contemplation and imagination are integral parts of who I am… So who knows where inspiration really comes from.
Dan: Life is inspiring me all the time in different ways.
Where do you see Psylo in another 20-years from now?
Ami: I see the future of Psylo in 5 years - 20 years is something totally ungraspable for me… In 5 years Psylo will be a bigger brand with more flagship shops that will be about a healthy, holistic lifestyle and not only clothing. I would like to see us getting involved with education and with the promotion of our ideas for better, healthier humans, living in a better, healthier world.
I would like to see the brand growing more as an independent entity (independent of myself…) that will reach wider crowds, always within the concept that we created in the past 20 years.
Dan: In 5 -10 years I can see Psylo as a bigger business with more concept shops that sell clothes and also comprise statements about a healthy lifestyle that can inspire others. I see a healthy business that lets many people be part of it.
"Psylo is many things to me: an outlet for my creativity, an engine to generate money, a channel to educate and inspire others to express themselves and to collaborate, and a brand that above all promotes the importance of being a better human being, kind to others and to our environment."
Ami: I wish to myself and to everyone else to continue vigorously and with integrity the search for new understandings of the self and the fulfillment of one’s potential.
Dan: I wish to all of us to be present in whatever we are doing so we can live our lives and fulfill it and enjoy and love now. And whilst doing so to remember to be considerate and not harm people and nature.