Fashion Business Owner Musings: Tips for Happy Work and Life

startup fashion business owner musings

I think one big misconception about running a business is that the process of building it is when you’re miserable (no money, no time, total exhaustion) but that once it’s making money and running smoothly, happiness just sort of presents itself.

This isn’t even a little bit true.

The years 2013 and 2014 where a lot of hard work for me and my small team as we built the StartUp FASHION blog into a business that actually made money. In 2015, we finally hit a rhythm and the revenue continued to grow. But that didn’t mean that I went from misery to happiness.

No, happiness is a conscious decision. A decision made even when things aren’t going as planned as well as a decision made when things are working well.

The process of building my business was exhausting, full of fear, and constant concern. But I was happy. I was thrilled to be doing something I cared so much about. I made the decision to be happy even though I was worried about making money, failure, and disappointing others.

Then once the business was consistently profitable, I again made a decision to be happy because, though it seemed like this was the time to be happy by default, the reality is that “success” is a constant goal. There’s always more to accomplish and there’s pressure to not only continue the success you’ve found but increase it!

It’s that “the grass is always greener” bullshit. And it’s important to consciously decide to feel the happiness and excitement of what you’re doing at the moment.

Otherwise, you’re always thinking about how great things will be when…(fill in the blank).

Here are some things that I’ve done throughout the years to help me remain happy- in the bad times and the good.

  • Make “making friends” a priority- as I’ve gotten older, it’s become more difficult to make friends. Everyone is “busy”, a lot of people have a core group of friends and they don’t really care about making more, and it sometimes feels a bit awkward trying to bond with someone now that we’re adults. Whatever the reason, ignore it. I’ve found that continuing to make new friends has brought a richness to my life and helps to keep me excited and happy.
  • Say yes!, except when you say no- we’re all really busy with family, business, and day to day life so we often have the “nope, can’t do that” default response to both business and personal opportunities. Try not to do this. Sometimes just saying “yes!” can lead to some amazing experiences. But, you also don’t want to be afraid to say “no.” when you don’t feel like the opportunity is right for you at that moment in time. The trick here is to take a little time to think about these opps when they present themselves rather than allowing yourself to auto-respond within minutes.
  • Find the good in the bad- kind of a basic one here. Even the stuff that sucks the most has some sort of silver lining. Find it. Focus on it. And make that a habit as quickly as possible.
  • Keep educating yourself- don’t be a dinosaur. Keep on top of what’s happening in the world and business and family and friends. I think happiness comes a lot form understanding.
  • Support others- I’ve built a business around helping others but this isn’t the only way to do it. Making a effort on behalf of others is one of the most fulfilling things you can do and brings a very distinct form of happiness to our lives. Find little ways or focus on one big way- whatever!- but find ways to encourage and support others.
  • Don’t focus only on the money- I know this is a tough one because we have responsibilities and people are counting on us. But do whatever you have to do (a side gig, maybe) so that you don’t wake up every single day worried about the money. I continued to consult with fashion businesses on the side until StartUp FASHION was consistently profitable on its own. This helped to remove some of the pressure and really allowed me to be happy and enjoy the ride.

I know it doesn’t always seem easy, but making the conscious decision to be happy is the smartest thing we can do for our fashion business.

All my love and encouragement,

-Nicole
Nicole Giordano
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!

4 comments
  1. Avatar
    Tamara

    (Excuse if this is a repeat; I was having a problem getting this comment to post)

    Thank you for creating this support community for those of us crazy enough to dream big!

    I’m struggling with the “enjoy the process” part of all of this. I am working 3 “regular” jobs along with building my business. The custom orders that I get just aren’t enough to create a financial cushion for me. Gaining retail accounts is my major focus right now which leads to my continued manufacturer search. I’m on a tight schedule and yet, but yet I know I’m still not putting adequate amount of time to build a viable business. I just feel I’m spinning my wheels.

    Any advice or feedback you have would be so appreciated!

    Thank you!

    • Nicole Giordano
      Nicole Giordano

      Hi Tamara,

      We have to approve comments before they post, that’s why you couldn’t see it. 🙂

      The first thing you have to do is take a deep breath and create a plan.

      If you are going to focus on wholesale as your revenue stream, then you need to make a list of everything that has to be done to reach that goal (production, photography, line sheets, buyer research, etc) and you need to work out how much money you’ll need to do each of these things.

      Once you know what your goal is and how much money you need, you can create a plan for how you’re going to get the money, which corresponds with time management. If you have to stop all custom orders for the next six months and work your “other” jobs to save enough money for your first collection, then do that.

      The goal is to create a detailed plan for what you want and how you’re going to get it. Be realistic in terms of cash flow and time. Don’t let other projects distract you.

      Remember that most of us started our independent businesses as a side gig, those of us who are now full time with our businesses are so because we planned and focused.

      Hope that helps!

  2. Avatar
    Vanessa

    Nicole spot on as always! I love this part “No, happiness is a conscious decision. A decision made even when things aren’t going as planned as well as a decision made when things are working well.” It’s so true. When you finally reach another level or goal, you are always looking up. The cycle of wanting to attain more never ends!

    Can definitely relate.

    xo

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