Fashion Business Owner Musings: When You’re Embarrassed to Call Yourself a Business Owner


Today I was thinking about the early days of my business. I’m not sure what made this come up in my mind, but I was brought back to that stressful stage of early business when I had no idea if I ever going to make it work.

You know what I’m talking about, right? When you’re worried about money, confused about what to do next, and overwhelmed by the never-ending list of things that need your attention.

It was a scary time.

It’s also a time when when I was embarrassed to say I had a business.

I felt like when I said that, people dismissed me as silly. I felt like I wasn’t allowed to call myself a business owner because I hadn’t reached success yet. I wasn’t rolling in the money, I wasn’t “well known”, I didn’t have an office or a team of employees or anything else that is suppose to represent a business or an entrepreneur.

When friends and family asked me what I was up to, I’d reply with a vague, “Working on some stuff…” sort of answer. I felt like I had failed before I had the chance to really try.

I think this had to do with the fact that I had tried a few different businesses before I created StartUp FASHION. So in my mind, it always sounded like I was flaky, flitting from one idea to the next, seeing which one I could make stick. In reality, that wasn’t it at all. It was simply that I hadn’t found the right space for myself yet. I hadn’t figured out a business model that complemented the life that I wanted, while also making use of my skills and talents.

But that didn’t matter. It also didn’t matter that I knew, knew, deep down that I could do it. The second I started to share it, I felt like a fraud and a bit of a joke.

I’m embarrassed to say that that feeling lasted longer than I would have liked– years, I think.

What brought me out of it was not just when the business became profitable and the stress of money was gone. That helped, sure, but what really happened was I became proud of the work that I was doing. I believed in it because I saw that it was truly helping people. When I realized that, was when I could proudly say “I Founded a Business.”

Suddenly I believed in myself.

But you know what? I wish I hadn’t waited that long. I wish I had been proud of my work from the second I started doing it.

Because the second we decide to do something different, the second we decide to define our own paths and create the life and the business that makes us truly happy, is the second we get to shout from the roof tops what we do.

Helping, making, creating, deciding — these are things that make us business owners.

Money, recognition, offices, teams– these are things that support and grow our businesses.

But I was a business owner long before those things presented themselves to me. And you know what? So are you.

So the next time you’re feeling embarrassed to call yourself a business owner, I hope you’ll think about this little story and do a better job at owning your decisions than I did.

Be a business owner, be a fashion designer, be an entrepreneur, be whatever the hell you want to be and don’t let anyone tell you that you’re anything less!

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. aisha

    Hi Nicole,

    I literally just made a call to a friend to discuss what you wrote about. I am going through something SO SIMILAR. Would be amazing to be able to connect and learn more.

    Look fwd to hearing from you!


    • Mardiyath

      Hello Aîsha, I’m like you. I’m going through the same situation. Please, Nicole, it would be Amazing for me to connect with you too. Thank you very much. Mardiyath.

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