Fashion Business Owner Musings: “No” is an Invitation to Work Harder

I was at a conference and heard someone say “No is an invitation to work harder,” and I liked it.

Not because I don’t think that we are all already working hard enough. I liked it because it’s such a good attack on the toxic mindset of  “They said no, so now it’s over.”

Launching, running, and growing a fashion business is a life-long exercise in hearing the word “no.”

From buyers.

From partners.

From factories.

From customers.

From suppliers.

Everything running smoothly is not a realistic goal. What is a realistic goal is to adopt the mindset that hearing “no” is simply an invitation to work harder on the things you believe in.

By this I mean, when that buyer says “No,” don’t delete the email thread and sulk. Instead, ask why. Ask for feedback in order to improve your offering or to get a better idea of their customer so you can decide if this store really was as great of a fit as you thought.

When you hear “No” from a factory, ask them why. What are they looking for in the brands they work with? Or take their “No” as an indication that you need to do more research on how to work with factories. Figure out the right questions to ask, the right way to approach them, the right way to negotiate.

When you hear “No” from a customer, ask them why. What about that bag didn’t work for them? What about the dress is keeping them from making a purchase? Maybe this info will have an impact on your designs. On the other hand, maybe it will just make it clear that you are not focused on the right customer for your brand and it’s time to get clear on who this person really is.

Allowing ourselves to accept the word “No” as the final word will end our businesses a lot faster than running out of money or not having a staff.

Entrepreneurship is a constant roller coaster of highs and lows, yes and no, back and forth. One of the most important skills we develop is our ability to see those nos and lows as opportunities to come at it from another angle, rethink the approach, learn, and yes, work a little harder to get what we want.

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!