Fashion Business Owner Musings: Impostor Syndrome

spacerI know. Impostor syndrome has been covered a lot. Every major business blog or media outlet has talked about its impact on business owners, of all genders, but with a particular focus on women.

So at first, I thought I wouldn’t write about it. But then I realized something. In our industry, there is an extra layer of impostor syndrome.

We don’t only worry that we don’t know enough about business, we’re terrible with money, or we’re not smart enough. We also tend to worry about our knowledge of and comfort with the fashion industry as a whole.

I don’t speak the industry language

I didn’t go to fashion school

I’m not up to speed about the work of proclaimed designers of generations past

I’ve never been to NYFW and I really don’t want to go

Some or all of these things tend to run through the minds of many independent fashion designers because these days, the brands that are emerging often have not been formally trained, or simply don’t want to start traditional fashion businesses.

Many of you are creating businesses based on a set of values you have or a need you’ve experienced and therefore are coming at this industry from a completely different path than those who have “always wanted to be a fashion designer” and therefore have lived and breathed this industry from a very young age.

And when you don’t know what fashion words and phrases like “lead time,” “cut on the bias,” or “jacquard” mean, it can feel like you don’t belong.

It can feel like you’ve entered into a space that is so completely foreign that you’re not sure you’ll have the capacity to learn everything you need to know in time to get this fashion business going or growing.

I’m here to tell you, you will. I promise.

Yes, this industry has a history of exclusivity and snobbery. But this industry is also changing. And you no longer need to be someone who has fabric shears in their glove compartment to be considered a part of it.

Business is hard.

Fashion business is harder.

But, no matter your current level of understanding, you will learn what you need to learn. You will adapt to the lingo and you will realize that the things you really need in order to succeed in this business have nothing to do with the industry itself. And everything to do with who you are as a person.




Willingness to learn




These are the things that matter. These are the things to spend time improving.

When you’re experiencing impostor syndrome because you don’t know what questions to ask a fabric supplier or you don’t know what a line sheet is exactly, tell yourself that that’s the easy part. Tell yourself that you’re smart and perfectly capable of learning what these things are.

And remind yourself that your focus is on you, your mindset, and your determination to do something you really want to do in life.

You are not an impostor. You’re someone who does hard things, even when it’s scary, and comes out on the other side.

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!