My name is Forrest Curran, i'm a Japanese dude who grew up in Texas. I started a blog called the Purple Buddha Project when I was 19 years old in 2011 out of a dorm room, and this is the story of how that blog transformed into an international brand transforming lives in Cambodia.
Growing up, I wasn't a bad kid. I just lacked self confidence, and was that guy who saw a girl he liked, but couldn't muster up the courage to go talk to her. Yup, I was that guy. Being a child of an immigrant is difficult, and perhaps even more so in those awkward teenage years where I was trying to find a balance of being Japanese and being a Texan within two very polorizing cultures.
I went to college, but didn't have it in me to finish. During this time however, I started up a Tumblr blog which focused on positive and uplifting content. I was getting a hundred of shares on my posts which for at the time was huge for me, so feeling excited, I worked on my blog just as hard as an A+ student would at school. The following from the blog would later down the road a couple years serve as the core base that pushed for Purple Buddha Project to happen.
I kept on seeing on the internet of all these amazing places around the world, and I never had felt such a wanting to do something ever in my life. At this point in my life however, I had never even left the country before...
I got lucky and when I was 21 I got an job offer in Taiwan. I just took the job on the simple fact that it was in another country, but I was just totally ecstatic that anyone would even want to hire me. I spent some time working a company that produced baby merchandise. I saved up some money, here which eventually lead to me traveling for year around the world, which became the best decision I had made in my mistake filled youth. I came back to Texas a new person. I left as an unconfident kid, and came back as someone who finally knew themselves.
Something I learned along my journey was the fact that Cambodia is one of the most bombed countries in the world. Reverse engineering an object of negativity, I began designing jewelry made from upcycled remains of weapons of conflict such as bomb shells, and bullet shells.
I was 20 years old at this time so I really didn’t have a whole lot of funds or an inkling in buisness knowledge, but then I heard about this new thing coming out of silicon valley or whatever as like the new hottest thing called crowdfunding. This was still at a time when like nobody knew what Kickstarter and all these crowdfunding platforms were, but with nothing to lose I loaded up my first campaign and to my excitement people from around the world gave me start up funds.
It’s been almost 6 years since the official beginning of the project, where today it supports fair-trade artisans in Phnom Penh, Cambodia while sponsoring schools in Siem Reap, Cambodia while spreading the history of genocide in this country around the world. Looking back, every hardship and obstacle, all the difficult decisions had to happen in this order for me to grow. The mantra that I experienced years ago is what I live by today, and it is this: Do what you fear.