5 Fashion Business Mistakes I’ve Made and What I Learned From Them

fashion business

Oh man have I made mistakes. Seriously, as someone who is self-taught in the whole business thing, I spent the better part of the early 2000’s failing. A lot.

But damn if I didn’t learn. I don’t think there is any better way to learn how not to do something than to do it, fail miserably, and take extensive notes on why that may be.

So here 5 of my biggest lessons; the ones that I see impacting my business on practically a daily basis. I hope they help you as you navigate through this crazy fashion industry.

If I’m not learning something new, I’m not growing my business.

Really, I’m simply not growing. But I didn’t always realize this and in the context of business, learning new things from skills to processes has been paramount to my success. It is how I managed to go from a textile designer with absolutely no idea how a business runs and grows to a six figure revenue business that completely complements the lifestyle I love.

There is no f-ing way I can know everything, and that’s completely OK.

This one is huge for me. I’ve built a business around giving other people advice and encouragement and guidance and for a long time I would have a near breakdown when I felt like I couldn’t answer a question or didn’t have enough experience to offer the right advice. It took me a while to realize that absolutely no one knows everything about anything and that by simply suggesting someone else for the advice seeker to talk to who does know about it, I am in fact giving guidance!

I can do one (maybe two) things at a time and do them well.

Multi-tasking is bullshit. I think maybe it’s meant to make us feel important and/or productive but really, it doesn’t. All it does is make everything we do half-assed. This lesson took a while for me because I always felt like a slacker if I wasn’t trying to juggle thirty things at one time.

The support and encouragement of others is an absolute need.

This does not make us weak. Support is a human need. We need others. Support is not validation. Support is finding those people who understand what you’re going through, who are happy to listen and to help whenever they can. Support is encouragement and guidance, love, good challenge, a cheerleader, and a shoulder to ball on.

You can run a socially-focused business as an introvert.

Ah. Introvert. It’s a hot topic these days thanks to awesome books like Susan Cain’s Quiet. For a long time, before reading her book, I thought that my introversion was a handicap; I felt guilty that I wasn’t thrilled by attending event after event, speaking at conferences, or hosting weekly webinars. I thought that because I’m introverted it’s absolutely insane to think that I can build a business where I interact with people every single day. Yes, I do need my down time, my alone time, my recharging time, whatever you want to call it… but I also love to meet and connect with all “my” designers. And when I’m doing that, I don’t have to feel guilty or wrong for leaving the event early or choosing not to be apart of everything that goes on- both online and offline. Instead, I embrace my introverted tendencies and feel comfort in the fact that those tendencies are what make me good at what I do.

You may see yourself in one or all of these lessons. I hope that by sharing them, you’re able to go easy on yourself and realize that we’re all in this together; learning as we go, and sharing what we’ve learned.

P.S. If you haven’t heard, the StartUp FASHION Community is welcoming new members but only for two more days!  If you’d like to join a community of fellow designers who are all going through the same thing (and also get your hands on all kinds of step-by-step business advice) come join us!

Nicole Giordano

Nicole is the founder of StartUp FASHION, an online resource and community supporting for independent designers around the world with building their businesses. A deep love for the craft of fashion paired with an adamant belief that success is defined by the individual, led her to found StartUp FASHION, where she helps independent designers and makers screw the traditional fashion business rules, create their own paths, and build businesses they truly love. More than anything else, she’s in the business of encouragement and works every day to remind makers and designers that they have something special to offer the world and that they can, in fact, do this thing!