I want to tell you a story about something that recently happened.
But before I do, I’m not looking for a pat on the back or any appreciation. I just want to talk about this because (1) it’s important and (2) it actually relates really strongly to business success.
OK, here’s what happened.
I wrote a musing about “Listening” and I referenced the importance of learning to listen not just as business owners, but also in regards to the Black Lives Matter movement, human rights, and social justice.
Someone didn’t like it.
I received an intense and angry response telling me, among many other things, that my emails shouldn’t focus on anything but fashion business.
My thought after reading that email:
Absolutely no way.
Social justice topics or not, brands are no longer robots without opinions that they’re willing to share, for fear of losing customers or pissing someone off.
To avoid having and sharing an opinion as a brand is to be just another old, stuffy, meaningless entity with nothing on your mind but the bottom line.
If you are a startup fashion brand (which I assume you are since you’re reading my blog), and you’re avoiding sharing what you think or feel, you’re already failing in business.
I’m completely serious.
Yes, you should speak up about important issues. You believe in human rights and social justice and that Black Lives Matter? Say it.
But you know what, you should also have a freaking opinion about random things that give your brand a personality and make you interesting.
You are a staunch believer that avocados are mushy and gross and you won’t eat them no matter how cool they make your Instagram feed look? Say it.
Will there be people who think you’re nuts? Yep.
Will there be people who don’t get you? Yep.
Will there be people who don’t give a crap about your food choices? Of course.
Do it anyway.
Because being a brand is no longer about walking on eggshells to avoid upsetting people. It’s no longer about worrying that stating an opinion will cause you to lose followers.
It’s about knowing that you will lose followers and celebrating that as a step in the right direction. As a way for getting closer to the people who will become your customers.
If someone doesn’t want to buy from you because they don’t agree with your politics or your social beliefs, that’s just fine.
If someone doesn’t want to buy from you because they think avocados are the best thing in the whole world and couldn’t possibly trust that someone who doesn’t agree could make a beautiful dress, that’s also fine. It’s a silly example, I know. But I’m trying to get across that opinions, beliefs, and values are what make brands individual. What makes them interesting. What makes you interesting.
So don’t be afraid to speak up and share with confidence. Whether it’s the big, important things, or the small, silly things.
Lots of love and encouragement,