Fashion Business Owner Musings: Stop Doing What You Think You’re Supposed To Do

Here’s a secret.

One of the most impactful things I did to grow my business was that I stopped doing what I thought I was “supposed” to do to make my business successful.

That is, what everyone else in my space said I was supposed to do.

Do you know what I mean? I’m talking more about all the rules. The things that everyone says you’re allowed to do as a fashion business owner and everything they say you’re not allowed to do.

The “correct” way. The “expected” way.

I’m talking about our ability as business owners to identify when we’re being true to ourselves, our goals, and when we’re simply reacting to a predetermined process and set of rules.

I think we all do this. We want to be successful so we feel like we have to follow the rules- how to act, what to say, and what to do are all influenced by what others have already done and claim to be the “right way.”

How fashion businesses have traditionally run over the last several decades means absolutely nothing anymore.

And if that’s the case, why are you still adhering to the traditional rules?

I’m not suggesting that getting advice is a bad thing.

What I’m saying is that you can make your own rules.

You can approach how you produce your products in whatever way you want.

You can decide how you want to market your business in whatever way you like.

You can define success for yourself.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking there is only one way to do this.

Find the kind of help and guidance that shows you a blueprint for reaching your goals but encourages you to create your own path.

What do think? Do you see yourself doing this? How is this showing up for you in your business?

Here’s how it used to show up for me: I’ve built a community of independent fashion business owners, offering you all guidance and encouragement for going after your dreams and launching businesses. Our goal is to help designers all over the world to build a fashion business that makes them happy, whatever that may look like.

When I first set out to do this, I felt like I had to come across as very professional, poised, and “put together”. As a result, the word professional caused me to lose a lot of my personality.

I found myself deleting sections of blog posts before publishing them because I thought I shared too much.  I thought I needed an “office” to be a real business owner. Lots of stuff like that popped up for me.

I wasn’t fully being myself and my business was suffering for it.

I started to take note of every time I said or did something in a way that wasn’t reflective of my true personality.  I didn’t like the results. I was not making decisions as myself and instead was making decisions based on “supposed to.” And, for me, building a business that way was not sustainable.

Is this making sense?

I guess we all just have to decide how we want to approach our businesses and then step fully into that vision, regardless of whether it aligns with what others say is the “right way.”

So I encourage you to take a look at how you’re approaching your business. Does any part of it feel like you’re acquiescing to what you’re  “supposed to do”? What do you want to change in order for your business to feel more aligned with yourself and your goals?

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!

  1. Anna von Aabling

    Amazing post! It’s so fun, I’ve been away from Startup
    Fashion for some months, and when I read to the musings I just started thinking: there is so much good stuff here, why did I stop visiting this site? now I know! 😀 thank you for sharing it, and for making the shift – wonderful content and great inspiration to follow my own gut even more! 🙂

  2. Sara P. Boyd

    Thank you for talking about the things that truly enter my head on a day-to day basis. I love to hear that someone else struggles with how much to reveal about themselves and TRULY themselves. I sat on a title “Best Bitch” for my blog, but in the end published it. It feels better and truer to speak my mind and hope some other smart, ladylike, foul-mouthed women will find themselves attracted to my brand.

    • Nicole Giordano

      You’re very welcome, Sara. I’m thrilled to hear that you went with your chosen blog name and you’re speaking your mind!

  3. Rachael

    Thank you for this post, Nicole! Great read – felt like you were talking directly to me & is something I needed to be reminded of. I have caught myself removing some shit here & there & toning things down when I need to just keep my edge. Thank you again for the reminder!


  4. Coral

    Fantastic insight. Totally agree with you, especially the craziness of ‘running your own business’ using someone else’s rules except your own! The irony is quite funny as I know I was guilty of that at one stage in my own business. On getting back to basics as to why I started my fashion company in the first place, came with it a freedom that has helped my creativity to flow.

    Thanks for sharing Nicole.

  5. susan b.

    Hi Nicole,

    As always, great read. Great topic…..kudos to you. This is the very reason I love to read your posts. Always informative and greatly helpful. Your writing style is fabulous – edgy, totally honest. Your passion for what you do is clearly evident.

    I truly appreciate your articles, thank you!


  6. Daniela

    Thank you for another inspirational post Nicole. It brought to mind when I thought I had written something that could have sounded controversial and made me uneasy the minute i shared it publicly.. but then it was instead retweeted and appreciated by some. Seems like we repress a lot of our personality in all fields of business, just to please a vaster audience, but in reality we should be more and more ourselves to make sure we reach the right public, that think like us, that would be more likely to be our clients, our supporters. It’s important to come to terms with the fact we can’t simply be liked by everyone. But the more we show our personality, the more we’ll stand out and be found by people who are able to connect with our message.


    This is exactly what everyone need to hear Nicole.
    Just be ourself and following our instinct.
    Thanks for sharing this.

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