mental health when starting an online boutique for a new fashion brand
Um, I be tripping. For real. Let's just say that when you awake and realize your calendar denotes that you have one month until you launch an online boutique for your very first designer label, there isn't enough Zanax, meditation, or Ghandi quotes in the world to tame the stress and overall "oh shit" factor that envelopes every hour of the day. And its a trap! Because even when you want to relax or indulge in a social life again, you feel completely guilty since a solo effort fashion start-up should be all encompassing, with elbows so far in the grease that you practically bathe in it. But the guilt wanes rather quickly, don't get me wrong, because I am actually always wanting to be feverishly doing something. Not working every second in the beginning stages makes me feel I didn't do everything I possibly could to have a launch that was as close to perfect as humanly possible. At the same time, nothing is ever perfect like the old adage goes, which is why I set lofty dreams with unreasonable timelines to make sure this whole 9-years-to-finally-chase-my-dream bullshit never happens again. #toeachtheirown #dontjudge
I got back to the states on September 9, from what was supposed to be a semi-permanent sabbatical around the world. I'm not a fake ass fashion blogger that snaps photos of my Monday-Friday outfits on Sundays and posts about whatever is trendy. I had real life questions and needed answers. Like what is minimalism and what does it mean to have a home. A breakup was the reason for returning home so abruptly though. Depression reared its ugly head again, and a slow, lifeless, depleted me started questioning the purpose of living and if I should even go on. Because unfortunately, you don't have the choice to be born, which in and of itself is a supreme gift, but its becoming so easy to take one's own life, (or as with this new Eric Gardner case, anyone else's life).
I wouldn't dare use such a sacred and touchy issue as a marketing ploy like others would in my position. I could imagine headlines like "fashion saved my life" would make me hurl..like it did just now to even type that, then make it bolded and size 20 font. But by the weekend of my return I was searching for personal trainers, detoxing, blogging, cooking for family, and swooning over my collection of fabric swatches from years ago. I know myself. I know what it takes to get me in a dark place and what might instantly snap me out of it. It has always been business. I am so obsessed with business, that if it were tangible in all senses, I would marry it. Then again, many would say I am married to my work. And I found that to finally be okay. Being in a long-term relationship, or only ever being in long-term relationships, welcomed a cloud of guilt and complacency to hover over me because I rather work sometimes than pay attention to a significant other. Where on the flip side, the part of me that vaguely believes in Astronomy knew that my Libra tendencies absolutely detested being alone. And so I never fully tried or accepted being single. Breaking up while traveling is hard. Breaking up to find your true passion is enlightening. Its the most empowering thing I ever did. But not just the breakup, because in all honesty it was a horrid affair, but the staying single part. I got my mind right. My goals right. My day-to-day was just me. I wasn't responsible for anyone and could really focus. I wouldn't say singledom trumps being with a fully supportive partner, but I will say that the determination to finally, FINALLY, launch my own designer label was the torque I needed to end a bad relationship, and in turn deal with the inevitable ensuing depression.
Now dealing with self motivation is a whole other beast. I can't speak for everyone because I know deep down I was born to do this. Running a business lives in the cells that makes up the blood that runs through my veins. I hate accounting, and production management, and legalities, but I live to spend days and nights toiling over minuscule details that will amount to one cohesive gift to the world. When working toward launching your boutique for your own brand, every day seems like its the most important day. People will tell you to calm the hell down and you'll roll your eyes. Magazines will tell you to feng shui your office and you toss that crap in recycling. You'll forget you used to do yoga. You'll forget to eat and pee. You might even begin to consider a diaper for the sake of staying glued to your chair and answering emails or tweaking a webpage. But do what you have to do without killing yourself and altering your brain chemistry for the worse. Know the difference between exhaustion and being spent, between obligation and passion, between extremism and acute focus on details. Don't start on sleeping pills to aid you, don't think energy drinks is a cure for poor time management. I wouldn't endorse being batshit insane versus innate energy to cross the finish line. Know yourself and what's right. The rest will follow.
how to launch an online fashion shop
Unless you comment, I can't tell just to what degree you're interested in really trying your hand at launching your own business, whether online or not, but I can tease you with some tales on how I went from a moodboard to a sweaty night vision, to this...
..thanks to the unwavering, incomparably talented designer and new friend Alice Wicks. Don't worry, I'll be spilling the beans on my entire team coming soon. But back to fufilling a dream. Let's be clear. Accomplishments are only as diffuclt to execute as you make them. I will not stand here and say I have mastered the art of simplifying my life or making every aspect of my goals come to fruition with as little friction and resistance from the world as possible, but I am a scrappy little bugger, and by God, will I make shit happen. If the mind can conceive, it can achieve as they say. With my online shop, it was an entire branding journey. Do NOT try to skip the journey. It's like wanting to eat at a Chinese buffet and hoping to skip the part where you take a huge dump hours later. Get over it, life doesn't happen like that. No one talks about branding, at least not as much as they talk about Justin Bieber's underwear, and so many naively innocent wannabe designers will just get a logo made and launch their shop. No no. Even if it wasn't for the fact that I mentored other aspiring women business owners on branding for a year, I still felt there must have been more behind the smoky mirror. I researched all there was about branding for months. I made worksheets, I read books, I took costly online courses. Then, I interviewed a handful of designers to hire the freaking best. The best! Without the best (and best being defined simply as someone professional, undoubtedly talented, flexible, and fitting for your personality) you can know all you want about branding but won't get far in having the vision in your head translate on screen with a finished product. Well my friends, with a finite budget the size of my thumb, I am beyond happy with the first version of my website. It's humble, its warm, feminine, and absolutely me. And isn't it funny that becoming a designer means working with other designers. Forever.
So here are a few more tips that I wouldn't dish out unless I did them myself:
- through recommendations or research (behance, freelance sites, google) hire the best designer skilled in art direction, branding, and visual identity
- create as many moodboards as possible to make your vision tangible, everything from color palettes to mood to layout style
- forget about being Kate Spade on day one and start with a humble ecommerce platform that won't stress you out beyond the reach of medication, I'm talking Big Cartel or Wordpress or even Etsy, which I am using myself here
- don't get too far along until you have your samples, like I chatted about last post, then do a well planned photoshoot because designers hate to start any website work without imagery
- spend a few weekends writing the most words you'll ever write in your entire life, or hire someone to do it, because golly gee, product descriptions and about pages and shipping policies is some of the most tedious shit I've ever done, but it matters
- STOP waiting for everything to be perfect, you'll never launch, and it never will be
It took a lot to write this post, and if anyone at all is vibing with the new transparent me, I'm proud to say I have a couple more like this coming your way including debating whether or not becoming a minimalist and indulging in minimalist fashion makes you ethical by default, as well as how to cure exhaustion with a bit of minimal R&R. For now, in the spirit of holiday conspicuous consumption, I've got an eco shopping guide going live on this here little blog next! Twiddles thumbs.