Fashion Business Owners Musings: When Trying Something New Punches You in the Face

Everyone is always saying that we, as business owners, need to ignore the fear we have of trying something new or different. They say that putting ourselves out there is incredibly important to success. And feeling a bit vulnerable is all part of the territory. I know this, because I’m one of the people who is always saying it.

But what happens when we put ourselves out there, allow ourselves to be vulnerable, and the result is a big fat punch in the face? Or worse, radio silence.

Seriously, is there anything more embarrassing than when you open yourself up and share your opinions, feelings, or point of view and nothing happens? No one responds, no one cares, your business is not in the least bit better off for it. You’re left with this weird emotional cocktail made up of embarrassment and regret with a dash of hurt and pinch of bewilderment.

This happened to me when I published last week’s business musing on often feeling like I’m the most driven person I know.  I had a really hard time hitting that “Publish” button; and the complete lack of response for the first few days after the post went live had me regretting that I did it.

I felt vulnerable, stupid, embarrassed, and hurt. I felt weird, like I just wanted to pretend that I never said what I said.

And I think this happens to a lot of us in business. As new brands, it’s important to experiment with how you connect with your community. You have to try things and see what they respond to. For me, you guys all have seemed to love when I open up every Friday and share my reflections about working in this crazy industry. I’m glad you do, because I love sharing. But I guess I’m not always going to hit the nail on the head, I’m not always going to write something you resonate with. And I guess I have to be OK with that.

We have to try things, we have to open up in order to stand out, and we have to find ways to connect with our communities if we really want to build businesses that matter.

But in exchange for that we’re allowing people inside our worlds and inside our heads. We’re letting them into the real “behind the scenes” and that’s not easy.

What we can’t do is worry that we’re gonna look or sound stupid. It’s inevitable that we’re going to feel that way sometimes but if we let that feeling stop us from being ourselves, then our brands and businesses will ultimately suffer for it.

To not do this is to run the risk of being yet another fashion brand that no one feels connected to, yet another business that has no real people behind it, yet another sales person doling out the marketing speak. That is not the way to grow a business. That’s not how you’re going to get people to connect with you and your brand. And it’s certainly not how you’re going to build something that transcends trends and economics.

Your job is to build a brand that people feel connected to; you do this by being your imperfect, vulnerable self. You do this by sharing your point of view, even if it’s not the most popular. You do this by using words and phrases that make you, you. In a case like mine, you do this by sharing something you’ve been feeling for a long time but have yet to vocalize, but decided to because you thought it would help your community who may be feeling the same way.

So as you build your business and define your brand, try not to let that voice of reason in your head win. Create a brand that people care about by opening yourself up and making yourself a little vulnerable.

Lots of love and encouragement,

P.S. Putting yourself out there is not easy. Vulnerability is business is a scary part of business, but honestly, it’s a necessary one. It leads to growth. When you have support from others, people cheering you on, it makes all difference. If you’d like that support, join me in the StartUp FASHION Designer Membership Community, I’d love to help you.
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!

20 comments
  1. Avatar
    Kim S.

    Much props to you for being honest Nicole. Everything you said here is true. I just want you to know that as a member of StartUp Fashion, I love what you do and what you stand for. I don’t always say it but I want you to know it anyway. We get so caught up in our day to day lives and business objectives we sometimes forget to show our appreciation. I appreciate you and all you do to help brands like Al Shams move forward.

    Thank you for sharing yourself with all of us. Much Love Babes!

  2. Avatar
    Chris Yen

    BRAVO, Nicole! Much kudos to you for “putting yourself” out there with heart and conviction! This posting has actually reassured me that I, too, will be “ok” and now I’m ready to start that blog and share my experiences of ups and downs in my start-up business and NOT be afraid anymore to do so! Thank you for opening up and sharing. I’m inspired!:)

  3. Avatar
    shaimaa aly

    Thank you for this article .. what an enlightenment you gave to me, I always believe about being true to yourself and being open .. but most of time i get those akward moments you describe, so i thought maybe i have to stop doing that.. but here you are coming as a sign .. confirming that it sometimes worth it 🙂
    Thank you soooooooooooo much for being open with us , God bless you 🙂

  4. Avatar
    veronica

    Thank you for this reflection. I’m currently in the middle of creating the products for my brand and felt kind of lost at one point because I was not opening myself up to become my brand and embrace this venture as I should. I realized that this came from the fear that expressing myself as part of my brand might make me vulnerable and affect me later on if things don’t turn out the way I want them to.

    Yet, I realized that the only way to make it work it’s if I really embody and feel my brand the way I want my customers to. There’s nothing more magnetic than someone who speaks and acts upon what they love. Restraining myself from doing so could really affect this wonderful venture. If I allow myself to connect with my brand, I will then be able to transmit this to my future customers and creative something more powerful than just a product.

    Thank you.

    • Nicole Giordano
      Nicole Giordano

      Thank you for your comment, Veronica! I love your point about “more powerful than just a product.”

  5. Avatar
    Susan

    Hi Nicole, please do not change anything about yourself or what you are doing! I love your style. You have such a nice talent to combine the fashion business know-how, but equally as important, to really tap into the emotional highs and lows of this business. I don’t think there is anyone else out there that offers this. Your posts are spot-on, and I cannot tell you how much I appreciate reading them.

    So Nicole, keep on keepin’ on!

  6. Avatar
    Cleah Murray

    Hey Nicole, I really appreciate you opening up and being honest. Your vulnerability made me realize I’m not the only one trying to figure out this Design Game and your blogs for me has been really encouraging.

  7. Avatar
    Lisa

    Nicole I loved the article you wrote, thank you for putting yourself out there.
    I have felt this also for a long time and I’m not quite sure what to do with that feeling. It would be easier to stay stagnant and not push myself forward because then I won’t be vulnerable to everyone’s judgement, but I know I won’t be happy in myself of I don’t. I’m at the brink of putting myself out there with my business but I’m quite nervous about everyone’s opinions.

    • Nicole Giordano
      Nicole Giordano

      Thank you, Lisa. Feeling nervous is expected. It may seem like those who are successful don’t have a doubt in the world, but I promise you they did and at times they still do! The hardest step is the first one. Over time, it gets easier to be much more confident in what you’re putting out there and much less worried about others’ judgment.

  8. Avatar
    Miriam Gillham

    Hi Nicole, I really feel your pain. Apologies for not commenting on your last page. I read what you said at the time and thought you were so brave actually. You see, I am struggling with where to go from here. I am
    Fashion textile artist trying to break into the fashion world as a business. I am starting to think I may have made a huge mistake. Still finding my way. Not achieving my dream yet. So confused and I know that your sight has been such a wonderful salve my jangled mind. So if it helps, please know you struck a cord and you should not feel down about the response. I went away and thought on your comments, turned them over and over in my mind and was trully grateful you put into words what perhaps so many of us actually do feel and think. Keep on being you and being so courageous.

    • Nicole Giordano
      Nicole Giordano

      What a thoughtful and sweet comment, Miriam. Thank you.

      Why do you feel like you’ve made a huge mistake? Where are you in the business stage? What’s holding you back from moving forward?

      • Avatar
        Miriam

        Hi Nicole,
        How are you? Thank you for your reply and concern. I had to think a lot through since putting my ‘mistake doubts’ out there.
        I am trying to go from being a textile artist to a relevant ethical producer of slow designed one of ‘art fashion garments’ and strugglhmng sourcing as well as juggling family and life commitments. Just rethinking my timing as still have carer commitments on the home front. So just second guessing my overall commitment load
        The business plan as such has been tossed as it all just a little intense at the present
        Thank you again for your concern,
        Miriam

      • Avatar
        Miriam

        Hi Nicole,
        Thank you for your genuine cocern and care. I have to think about how to reply to your query. I did reply earlier but I am not sure if it actually sent. So again… I have tried to
        make my textile art into ‘ a one off’ slow designed textile fashion business. However due to family, carer and life commitments I think I have be too early with my timing.
        This has caused me a lot of soul searching and I now have to consider my options.
        I have completely abandoned any business plan and am in a contemplative space.
        Once again, thanks for asking. I appreciate all your encouragement.
        Miriam

      • Avatar
        Miriam

        Hi Nicole,
        I am having issues with my technology. Hopefully this time this will post.
        Thank you for your kind, genuine concern. To answer your query, I have done some serious soul searching.
        I may have started my whole business idea just too early for where my family and commitments are currently at.
        Putting it plainly, it’s been too much too soon and I have taken a good contemplative look at the whole situation and realise I possibly need to take action and gracefully withdraw, if just for now.
        Thank you again, please just keep being your honest kind and genuine self. Your sight is so encouraging.
        Miriam

  9. Avatar
    Hind

    Nicole, thank you for sharing this! I have had this experience many times. With words and with work, and its nice to know i’m not alone. It definitely teaches us to be stronger and tougher. And more open to sharing even more things, and the deeper you go the more your brand represent you, I guess 🙂

    • Nicole Giordano
      Nicole Giordano

      Thanks for your comment, Hind! I think we all have to decide individually where we draw the line on our privacy. Then from there, allow ourselves to be open and honest and transparent.

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