Some time ago, I posted a story on Instagram of a shirt that I used to sell. It was a photo that came from the Instagram archive with a caption that read “5 YEARS AGO”. The shirt was a summer sleeveless shirt that was slightly cropped in the body with a longer chiffon ruffle on the bottom to give the shirt midriff coverage and the back was a loose lace style crochet. the fit was loose and shaping toward ‘a’ line if it were to fall below the top of mid-rise jeans, made by HeartLoom. I wrote a caption just above the dated photo that read “5 years ago today, had no idea what I was doing…still don’t… just trying to turn a passion into a business”. Every portion of me felt that sentiment to my core. I still do. But it’s all true!! I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING!!! The basic premise behind my desire to start a clothing store is to source amazing pieces and share them with the world ( for a fee ). The idea is to be able to curate beautiful, chic, comfortable wardrobe options that will allow anyone to be able to get dressed and conquer the day feeling confident in how they choose to physically present themselves to the world. That has always been the idea, the goal and the mission yet I have not been able to execute.
I’m going to be the first to say that it has been ENTIRELY my fault that I have lacked success thus far. Few people that know me know that I have a business, I rarely go out, I almost never network and I barely post anything to social media - ever. I know myself well enough to comfortably label myself as an introvert yet I have not bothered to take on a business partner or hire a team or agency that can give my company the voice and presence that it desperately deserves. Stepping out of my comfort zone is very difficult for me. Giving someone else access to what I consider to be my baby, releasing control, is also difficult. I imagine that someone else will take my thoughts and ideas and throw them out of the window, they will basically call me stupid and recreate my vision into their own which would make me feel like a fraud. I would’t be living my dream, but facilitating someone else’s ideas of me and paying them to do so in the process. This thought is devastating, soul crushing even. But I know that what I’ve been doing - or lack thereof - has not gotten me any closer to truly being successful. How do I fix this? I should probably mention that my personal vision for my company is still very much in its infancy, as in, I’m still pregnant, like, I don’t fully know what it looks like. I have ideas of what I want but those are fleeting. I have yet to really see and understand exactly what it is that I want. This lack of vision and understanding creates a lack of direction, purpose and drive which keeps me on this hamster wheel. Over the years, I have purchased products for my store that I believed are great products but not usually with the intention of curating a wardrobe. I usually find nice pieces and plug them into the website which leave the feed - both website and social - looking and feeling thrown together and negligent of any sense of style. Yes, these are good pieces, but I have’t shared with anyone ways to wear these items together or separate. The media is doesn’t match from one photo to the next and there’s no story - brand or otherwise. There is no cohesiveness or consistency and at this point, its SUPER basic.
When I first started, I poured my life savings - literally everything I had at the time - into buying product, I had no idea that just because I had pretty things to sell, I still had to find customers to sell them to. I did below the bare minimum for advertising and marketing and - surprise! Nothing sold. because I didn’t have any more money to put into the business my thought process was always “Once I can sell some of this stuff I can put that money back into the business and do better next time. Each time I purchased new product, albeit pretty and fabulous, I was spending my personal money, never money generated from the business because it didn’t have any real money to speak of. Each time I thought “This time will be different. This will be the time that people flock to the website and buy so much stuff that I’ll have the revenue available to do this thing right. It wasn’t.
Not to say that I’ve never had customers some even loyal, but never enough to be able to make the business run successfully. I must also mention that I have an AMAZING support system. My family and friends that have been with me on this journey since inception have always been encouraging to say the least. I have received aid and support mentally, physically, financially as they give praises and/or constructive criticisms where needed. They have been my customers, marketers, assistant buyers, accountants, creative directors, production assistants, sales reps, photographers, models, brand ambassadors, delivery drivers, warehousers, think-tankers, teachers, confidants and overall cheerleaders championing for my success. It’s also important to mention that my support system is an eclectic group of strong opinions that don’t shy away from expressing themselves, I must be clear - no one is willing to bite their tongue to coddle my feelings in effort to speak the truth. I don’t have a single “yes” person around me. The help, advice and opinions I have received always come from a place of genuine love.
Despite all of the love and support I’ve received externally and the dream of running my own business, nothing has happened. I can’t say that I have been consistent in my work ethic when it comes to my business which I’m sure is the main reason for lacking success. But it’s also a lack of knowledge and a fear of asking for help. Today I have come to the conclusion that I have to choose success or failure. I’m okay with failure if it stems from a true attempt that just didn’t work, but the attempt has to be real. I have to be more consistent in my work ethic, ask for help in areas that I cannot do alone, hire people, teams and agencies that are experts in areas that I am not. I have to be willing to allow my ‘baby’ to grow and begin to face the world in its own way. As with actual children, you have to be willing to allow them to grow and become themselves. All you can do is hope that you’ve taught them well enough to make the right decisions. In this case, I have to be comfortable with unapologetically being myself and portraying that within my business practices so that the brand will be 100% authentic and resonate with my customers as such. I am now willing to accept help, not just asking glibly. I am open to trying new things in order to succeed - or genuinely fail - as long as it’s earned.
In this moment, there’s nothing more that I can do but stick to my word and my work. Allow the work to speak for itself and pray that it connects with someone else in the world and they are willing to support the brand ( read: me ). So the question of the moment is what’s the next move? We shall see… wish me luck.