"L'autre Vie", a year's journey in 368 pages, by Valentin Porcher

6 MN

The other life

DISCUSSION WITH VALENTIN PORCHER, CO-FOUNDER & CREATIVE DIRECTOR OF OLOW

Valentin spent 2017 backpacking around the world. His journey took him from the mysteries of the farthest reaches of China to the vast expanses of Patagonia and the remote villages of Indonesia. He came back with travel diaries full of stories to tell and sketches, and a satchel full of photos. Looking back on it afterwards, he said to himself that this adventure was so crazy that it would be a shame to keep it to himself, and so he set about producing this book: "L'AUTRE VIE" (THE OTHER LIFE).

Before your big road trip in 2017, what was your connection with travel?

When I was a kid, we had a Toyota van and we always went on trips in it. It was our only car at the time. I remember long journeys to the south of France, with this van in which we slept with my brothers in the back. It was a bit like a living space, a mobile home.

Later, when I was 18, some friends and I booked a house on the Costa Blanca, and as my father worked for the SNCF, I got free train tickets. So while they'd been flying, I'd been travelling by train, which took me 25 hours. It was the first big trip I took when I was young.

Before this big road trip in 2017, I had mainly travelled in Europe. Always in low-cost mode, sleeping in youth hostels. In fact, everyone around me thought it must be costing me a fortune to be away all the time, when in fact it wasn't at all. It was mainly a question of motivation and the desire to discover something new, that was really my leitmotiv, and it didn't cost me much.

How do you look back on this trip 6 years later? If you had to do it again today, would you change anything?

When we took this trip, I wanted to slow down the pace and I don't think my girlfriend and I had exactly the same vision of travelling at the time. She wanted to see a lot of landscapes, like the ones that go by when you're on the road. As for me, I was more interested in soaking up the places we were in, even if it meant doing fewer things. But we found some compromises, so that we could both enjoy the trip, each with our own wishes and desires. It's really important to discover other cultures, because you don't always get the chance to travel in your life.

Otherwise we've taken a lot of trains, cars, bikes and even scooters, but I think we've flown too much in spite of everything, even if it's not always easy to do without. In the end, if I had to do it all over again, I'd take fewer planes and drive less, to get a better feel for the country.

How did you come up with the idea for this book?

I had lots and lots of photos of landscapes, but also portraits. It's actually quite easy in Asia because people love having their photo taken. I was able to photograph whole families in front of their houses. So I did this sort of photo report over a year and the question that kept coming up was "what am I going to do with all these photos? There are two options: either you leave them lying around on a hard drive, and they never come out and you don't know what you're storing them for, or you print them, and it's true that I liked the idea of having an object.

I had originally thought of making an exhibition of it, but I also had a lot of texts. They were originally written for Olow and were published in the Journal. In addition to all this content, I also had a whole bunch of drawings, which weren't intended to be published but whose sole purpose was to make my girlfriend laugh and illustrate some nonsense written in travel diaries. But it's different to do drawings for a professional exhibition than to do them on the fly for fun. I think that these simplistic drawings found their meaning in this book, because it wasn't planned either, and that's what makes the project authentic. And then the idea of putting it in the library, a book that I've made, that my daughters can look at, is pretty cool!

I'd love to write a novel, but this book wasn't designed with that in mind. The first chapter, which is quite different from the others, is more of a statement of fact, while the rest is more focused on stories and how things unfold.

How did the production go?

I decided to work with Juliette, who is a graphic designer and art director at Olow. She had all the content, took the time to listen to what I wanted and gave me a lot of technical input. As we were already working together and she'd just come back from a round-the-world trip on which she'd created a book, she'd exploited the subject matter and that made it easier to produce.

When you've got a business, you sometimes feel stuck. How did a trip like this come about?

I think that you put up a lot of barriers and that it depends on the relationship you have with the members of your team. At Olow we're two partners, me and Mathieu, we communicate a lot and I explained to him that I wanted to do this trip, that it was important to me. To work well, you also need to feel good about yourself and your projects. So I took the time to discuss it with Mathieu and I told him that if he agreed, I would find someone and train them to do some of my work. I hadn't planned to give up my creative duties, developing collections, but it was mainly the communication part that I couldn't do any more. 

Even when I'm travelling, I'm always trying to find inspiration, whether it's in the place I'm in or on the Internet. I'm always keeping an eye on things, even unconsciously, and I don't think that puts too much of a mental burden on me. So I wouldn't say that travelling has revolutionised the way I work either. I can work in my garden, when I'm cycling, walking down the street or chatting to friends. In the end, everything is work, but nothing is work. You just have to have a healthy, trusting relationship with the person you're working with and with your teams. You have to listen to other people, to what they want to do, and that can bring a lot to the company too.

What have you gained professionally?

Professionally, it was very inspiring, and I came back with lots of new ideas. It also allowed me to take a step back from everything, including the way I work and the way Olow is organised. The problem is that when you've got your head in the sand at work, a routine can quickly set in, and the tasks to be carried out mean that you forget a bit about the principles you had, and you tend to rush ahead in a stupid and nasty way.

"THE PROBLEM IS THAT WHEN YOU'VE GOT YOUR HEAD IN THE SAND AT WORK, A ROUTINE CAN QUICKLY SET IN, AND THE TASKS TO BE CARRIED OUT MEAN THAT YOU TEND TO FORGET THE PRINCIPLES YOU HAD, AND YOU TEND TO RUSH AHEAD IN A STUPID AND NASTY WAY".

And on a personal level?

I think that going on a trip allows you to concentrate in a fairly short space of time many of the discoveries that you could make over the course of a lifetime. You meet so many people, cultures, animals and landscapes in a short space of time, it's a rich experience, an opportunity that allows you to grow. You can also feel invincible, because you're constantly confronted with things that take you out of your comfort zone, and that changes you as a person, making you feel stronger. When you travel, you also learn that you're never really alone, you always meet people and even if no one speaks your language, you always find someone to help you.

It's also been a great experience for us as a couple. This kind of experience is a bit like a baptism by fire, you either pass or you fail. In this case, it made us much stronger to go through it together. So much so that when we came back we had our first daughter.

Valentin Porcher

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The Customer also receives by email and without delay, a receipt of the order sent electronically, regarding as a confirmation of the order (“Order Confirmation”).

The Customer receives electronically, the confirmation that the Goods have been dispatched.

The delivery shall take place at the location indicated by the Customer at the time of the Order.

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The Vendor undertakes to deliver the Goods and Services subject of the Order Confirmation. In the event that a Good ordered is unavailable, the Vendor will promptly inform the Customer about this.

However, under section L.122-1 of the French Consumer Code, the Vendor reserves the right to cancel your Order if the Order is abnormal, involves bad faith or for any other reason that is under the sole discretion of the Vendor. The Vendor also reserves the right to reject orders from any customer with whom the Vendor have an ongoing legal dispute regarding a prior order.

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Returns are free from France thanks to our prepaid label.

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Shipping cost

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Free delivery for orders over 120€

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Home delivery: €15

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Argentine, Brésil, Chili

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Delivery time

6-9 working days

Arabie Saoudite, Bahreïn, Chine, Corée du Sud, Émirats Arabes Unis, Hong-Kong, Indonésie, Israël, Japon, Malaisie, Qatar, Singapour, Taiwan

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Home delivery: €24

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Australie, Nouvelle-Zélande

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Home delivery: €27

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Delivery time

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Returns

You have received your order but the product does not suit you?

You can return your products within 15 days of receiving your package, for any order.

For the festive season, the deadlines are extended to 30 days.

The items must not have been worn, washed or damaged and must be returned in their original packaging, in perfect condition for resale.

How do I return my package from France?

Return shipping from France is free via Mondial Relay.

To return your parcel, it is very simple :

  1. Go to “My account”, in the “My purchases” section,

  2. In the list of your orders, select your order,

  3. If your order is eligible for return, please tick each product you wish to return. If a product has been ordered in several copies, you can indicate the quantity to be returned.

  4. Indicate the reason for the return at the bottom of the order details and click on “Request a return”. You can track your return request in the “Returns” section of the “My purchases” section.

  5. Once your return request has been validated by our team, all you have to do is stick your pre-paid label (provided at the time of delivery) on the package, insert the completed returns form in the parcel and drop it off at a Mondial Relay point.

How can I return my package (International online returns)

International return packages are at the customer’s expense (including cost of shipment by the chosen carrier, customs & duties, taxes, etc.)

To return your parcel, it is very simple :

  1. Go to “My account”, in the “My purchases” section,

  2. In the list of your orders, select your order,

  3. If your order is eligible for return, please tick each product you wish to return. If a product has been ordered in several copies, you can indicate the quantity to be returned.

  4. Indicate the reason for the return at the bottom of the order details and click on “Request a return”. You can track your return request in the “Returns” section of the “My purchases” section.

  5. Once your return request has been validated by our team, simply download the return form and place it in your package. 

  6. Send your package to the address indicated on the return form.

Want to make a return request with a guest account?

It's very easy : contact us by email at service-client@olow.fr indicating your order number, the items you wish to return and whether you wish to request a refund, a credit note or an exchange.

How long does it take to get my money back once my package has been sent?

Refunds will be made within 10 days of receipt of your items and automatically to the account associated with the credit card used for payment or to the Paypal account used for payment.

Is it possible to return my item in the shop?

No, for all internet orders, returns can only be made to the address mentioned above.

What can I do if my item has a defect?

We take great care in the manufacture and finishing of our products. However, if you wish to report a manufacturing defect on a product, we invite you to contact our customer service by e-mail: service-client@olow.fr.

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How to order?

Please follow the following instructions in order to submit an Order:

  1. Visit the Website;

  2. Follow the instructions on the Website to place your orders and especially the instructions given to create a Customer account;

  3. Fulfil the Ordering form. After extended inactivity you may encounter an automatic cancellation of the Goods you submitted. You shall start a new Order of any Good and Service you wished to order;

  4. You shall check the Goods and Services you Order, and if necessary, please identify and correct the error;

  5. Confirm the Order, the Total Price as well as the All-Inclusive Price (the “Order Confirmation”);

  6. Follow the payment Website instructions in order to pay the All-Inclusive Price.

After you have submitted an order, the Customer receives by email and without delay a confirmation of his approval of the Order.

The Customer also receives by email and without delay, a receipt of the order sent electronically, regarding as a confirmation of the order (“Order Confirmation”).

The Customer receives electronically, the confirmation that the Goods have been dispatched.

The delivery shall take place at the location indicated by the Customer at the time of the Order.

Additionally, by undertaking these different steps to Order, the Customer accepts to strictly comply with this Agreement, in accordance with section 1316-1 of the French Civil Code.

The Vendor undertakes to deliver the Goods and Services subject of the Order Confirmation. In the event that a Good ordered is unavailable, the Vendor will promptly inform the Customer about this.

However, under section L.122-1 of the French Consumer Code, the Vendor reserves the right to cancel your Order if the Order is abnormal, involves bad faith or for any other reason that is under the sole discretion of the Vendor. The Vendor also reserves the right to reject orders from any customer with whom the Vendor have an ongoing legal dispute regarding a prior order.

Free delivery and exchange offered

For orders over €120, delivery is free.

Returns are free from France thanks to our prepaid label.

Prices and delivery times

Shipping cost

Collection points: €5

Home delivery with signature: 7.5€

Free delivery for orders over 120€

Delivery time

2-4 working days

Allemagne, Autriche, Belgique, Bulgarie, Chypre, Danemark, Espagne, Finlande, Grèce, Hongrie, Italie, Malte, Pays-Bas, Pologne, Portugal, République Tchèque, Suède, Ukraine

Shipping cost

Home delivery: €9.5

Free delivery for orders over 120€.

Delivery time

4-7 working days

Andorre, Biélorussie, Croatie, Islande, Monaco, Norvège, Royaume-Uni, Russie, Suisse, Turquie

Shipping cost

Home delivery: €9.5

Free delivery for orders over €120

Delivery time

5-8 working days

Bahamas, Canada, États-Unis, Mexique

Shipping cost

Home delivery: €15

Free delivery for orders over €120.

Delivery time

5-9 working days

Argentine, Brésil, Chili

Shipping cost

Home delivery: €27

Free delivery for orders over €120.

Delivery time

6-9 working days

Arabie Saoudite, Bahreïn, Chine, Corée du Sud, Émirats Arabes Unis, Hong-Kong, Indonésie, Israël, Japon, Malaisie, Qatar, Singapour, Taiwan

Shipping cost

Home delivery: €24

Free delivery for orders over €120.

Delivery time

4-7 working days

Australie, Nouvelle-Zélande

Shipping cost

Home delivery: €27

Free delivery on orders over €120.

Delivery time

6-10 working days

Returns

You have received your order but the product does not suit you?

You can return your products within 15 days of receiving your package, for any order.

For the festive season, the deadlines are extended to 30 days.

The items must not have been worn, washed or damaged and must be returned in their original packaging, in perfect condition for resale.

How do I return my package from France?

Return shipping from France is free via Mondial Relay.

To return your parcel, it is very simple :

  1. Go to “My account”, in the “My purchases” section,

  2. In the list of your orders, select your order,

  3. If your order is eligible for return, please tick each product you wish to return. If a product has been ordered in several copies, you can indicate the quantity to be returned.

  4. Indicate the reason for the return at the bottom of the order details and click on “Request a return”. You can track your return request in the “Returns” section of the “My purchases” section.

  5. Once your return request has been validated by our team, all you have to do is stick your pre-paid label (provided at the time of delivery) on the package, insert the completed returns form in the parcel and drop it off at a Mondial Relay point.

How can I return my package (International online returns)

International return packages are at the customer’s expense (including cost of shipment by the chosen carrier, customs & duties, taxes, etc.)

To return your parcel, it is very simple :

  1. Go to “My account”, in the “My purchases” section,

  2. In the list of your orders, select your order,

  3. If your order is eligible for return, please tick each product you wish to return. If a product has been ordered in several copies, you can indicate the quantity to be returned.

  4. Indicate the reason for the return at the bottom of the order details and click on “Request a return”. You can track your return request in the “Returns” section of the “My purchases” section.

  5. Once your return request has been validated by our team, simply download the return form and place it in your package. 

  6. Send your package to the address indicated on the return form.

Want to make a return request with a guest account?

It's very easy : contact us by email at service-client@olow.fr indicating your order number, the items you wish to return and whether you wish to request a refund, a credit note or an exchange.

How long does it take to get my money back once my package has been sent?

Refunds will be made within 10 days of receipt of your items and automatically to the account associated with the credit card used for payment or to the Paypal account used for payment.

Is it possible to return my item in the shop?

No, for all internet orders, returns can only be made to the address mentioned above.

What can I do if my item has a defect?

We take great care in the manufacture and finishing of our products. However, if you wish to report a manufacturing defect on a product, we invite you to contact our customer service by e-mail: service-client@olow.fr.

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