Fashion Business Owner Musings: Burnout Can Happen Even Early On

spacerWe hear a lot about burnout when it comes to high-powered executives, venture-funded startups, and other large-scale, money-making enterprises. But what we don’t hear about as much is burnout as a small fashion business owner who’s most likely working a “day job” as they try to get their 5 piece capsule collection from an idea in their head to a product in their hand.

But guess what? Burnout is just as much of a problem for the latter as it is for the former.

Yes, designers can and do experience the same problems with burnout as someone who’s dealing with 50 million dollars in revenue and a team of 50.  You are allowed to need a break.

You know how some days you have no motivation at all?

You know how sometimes the thought of working on your business makes you sick to your stomach?

You know how you can get cynical and feel like there’s no point?

You know how at times recognizing and celebrating your accomplishments is impossible?

That’s burnout.

And rather than “pushing through it,” you need to address it. Because if left unfixed, your fashion business won’t make it in the long run. Because you simply won’t want to do it anymore. You’ll give up because all excitement and drive will have disappeared.

There’s no shame in burnout. It’s almost inevitable if you’ve been working on something for a while and giving it your all, especially when it’s so closely connected to you personally. When the lines blur between work and personal time, and you feel like you’re always working, burnout can creep in quick.

I’ve been there. Though I will admit that until recently, I rarely identified it as burnout. I told myself I was just “unproductive.” But that’s different. Unproductive is when you spent your whole day putting out fires instead of getting to your task list. Or when you feel fine but just got sucked into looking at old pictures on a high school friend’s Facebook pages for two hours.

Burnout is wondering why you even do this anymore.

For me, when I find myself in this feeling of complete and total lack of motivation, questioning if this work is actually helping people, wondering why I don’t feel excited or pumped like I have in the past, I now realize that I need a break. I need to pull back a bit before I can get back on track.

Some things that I do when burnout hits:

I take a day or two off. I know that’s hard, but I think it’s really important. Give yourself a chance to miss it. Give yourself a chance to let your mind get back to the creative ideas and exciting possibilities rather than be bogged down with the day-to-day tasks.

I meditate. Headspace is my go-to tool and it’s made a big difference in my life.

Exercise. This was never a motivator for me in the past. I’m not one of those people who gets really excited to exercise. But then I found barre and that changed. Whatever your chosen exercise, movement is a must for helping with burnout.

Tell someone. Just talking to someone about how you’re feeling can have a major impact. It can be such a release and allow you to feel much freer.

This topic was important for me to write about. I feel like small fashion business owners and those just starting out are sometimes left feeling like they don’t have the same issues as “successful” people. Like they’re not allowed to feel a certain way or do a certain thing because they’re not “real” business owners yet.

That’s wrong. And I want to make sure you know that.

If you need a break, take it.

Lots of love and encouragement,

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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!

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