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Seeing Faces in NYC Inspires Business Start-up in San Francisco

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Alex Regenstreich
Garry Bowden/Souls of San FranciscoAlex Regenstreich, founder of iseefacestoo

In 2012 I was standing in Bloomingdale's in NYC when I noticed a famous Celine purse that looked like a "face." I was with a friend who had seen that bag hundreds of times but until then had never seen the face.

Delighted by this change of perspective, we began noticing faces in objects everywhere we went.

Celine face purse
Alex RegenstreichThe "face" that launched a business
As the face images started to pile up, I decided to create a folder on my computer and share these images with other people. And a funny thing happened the more I shared. People began to see faces in objects in their everyday lives and to enthusiastically share them with me.

After doing some research it turns out there is a phenomenon known as "Pareidolia" where our brains are hard-wired to recognize patterns and faces in objects. Carl Sagan hypothesized that as a survival technique, human beings are "hard-wired" from birth to identify the human face.

Da Vinci wrote of pareidolia as a device for painters and Picasso once sent a photo of an African Hut to Salvador Dali because he thought it looked like a face profile turned sideways, which Dali turned into a surrealist painting.

Fast forward a couple of years and I had hundreds of face images in this folder.

After six years of working in advertising sales, selling other people's visions, I wanted to experiment with a vision of my own.

After six years of working in advertising sales, selling other people's visions, I wanted to experiment with a vision of my own and find a project I was passionate about. I attended a life accelerator in San Francisco called Bold Academy where we were encouraged to take our ideas seriously, no matter how small or seemingly out of reach.

That is when I decided to take my images and make one small, quirky book to sell in stores. Then I was encouraged by my family and close friends to take this idea even further and to create a brand of these whimsical images.

I decided on a name and instagram handle (@iseefacestoo) and that is when Joseph Campbell's quote "Follow your bliss and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be" kicked into high gear.

I was walking around my neighborhood in San Francisco when I met this awesome, quirky lady named Fran who runs a print shop called Ella Print out of her garage. She and her partner Audry are makers and they helped me prototype my face designs onto t-shirts, coffee mugs, puzzles and prints.

Another friend introduced me to a top-notch non-profit in the Bay area called FACES SF, serving the needs and well-being of San Francisco's most vulnerable children and families. They provide high-quality after school programs and job placement to low-income families. Inspired by social entrepreneurs like TOMS and Life is Good, 10% of all sales go to FACES SF.

Today I am working on getting others to buy into my vision. I am speaking with Urban Outfitters and the Exploratorium in San Francisco to get this book and merchandise in stores and I sell my products on iseefacestoo.com.

OMG Face Mug
Alex RegenstreichOMG Face Mug sold on iseefacestoo.com
A friend asked me, "Why faces?" To me, it is delightful to see something that was in front of us the whole time but that we never saw until we took the time to stop and look.

Seeing faces is a metaphor for learning to see our whole lives with a fresh perspective. My mission with faces is to get us to pay more attention to our surroundings and to inspire others to experiment with their ideas and visions.

Right now this venture is funded fully by my own savings.

I've spent roughly $5,000 getting to this point.
  • $1,500 on some branding and website help
  • $1,500 on Trademark/copyrights
  • $500 on book prototypes
  • $1,000 on various other product prototypes.
So far, I've netted about $1,800 in sales.


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2 Comments

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fredrez

Interesting we came to the same conclusion.
"I feel the shadows are telling us how much we have overlooked that is right before us."
2004. Fred Ressler as told to Roger Cardinal.
http://issuu.com/american_folk_art_museum/docs/folkart_30_1_spr2005/58

June 29 2014 at 8:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
fredrez

Thought you might like to see some real / natural pareidolic faces.

https://beyondpareidolia.shutterfly.com/

June 29 2014 at 5:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply