Fashion Business Owner Musings: Why Do We All Think We’re Impostors?

Business owner musings

Thanks to Sheryl Sandberg, there’s no shortage of coverage and discussion around impostor syndrome. It seems a large percentage of us have it; always questioning whether or not we’re qualified to call ourselves business owners.

For me, this was once one of the biggest hurdles in the growth of my business. I would reluctantly accept praise, hesitate to take on challenges that required putting myself out there, and convince myself I wasn’t capable of something before really even thinking about it. It was damaging, to say the least.

And I see this self doubt in so many designers I talk to. So many of you hesitate before introducing yourself as a designer, or add a long explanation about working towards leaving your day job after calling yourself a business owner, or question whether you are “really” a designer because you’re self taught.

Think about that. To question whether you’re “allowed” to claim what you want to about yourself. Whether your work counts as being real. Whether someone will accept you for what you say you are.

Let me stop right here. If this is you, if you’ve found yourself saying and doing these things or acting this way, stop. Please.

You are a designer. You are a business owner. You are good enough.  Your work does count. And you don’t owe anyone an explanation about anything.

Listen, most of us were working “day jobs” for years into the start of our businesses. Most of us are self taught in some aspect, whether that’s business or design. Most of us wonder what the hell we’re doing on a regular basis. These things do not mean that we’re any less than what we say we are.

I’m not saying that I too don’t still sometimes feel this way. I haven’t mastered the whole confidence thing. But I have come a long way. I’ve learned how powerful it is to believe in yourself. I’ve experienced what happens when you push past this feeling of whether or not you’re “really” something and just be it.

Be a designer. Be a business owner. Be a maker. Be a founder. Be an entrepreneur.

Be what ever the hell you want to be and don’t let anyone make you feel like you’re anything less.

OK, this post has been a bit passionate. I’m not trying to sound all preachy. It’s that I believe so much that we all deserve to live the lives we want to live. And it makes my stomach hurt when I see so many incredibly driven, talented, and capable people allow others to make them feel as though they don’t deserve everything they want.

So, I know it’s difficult, but try to keep those questioning voices in your head at bay, OK?

Lots of love and encouragement,

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 Comment
  1. Emily

    Thank you for this post – I (and many other designers, I’m sure) needed to hear this this week .

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