Last year I made more clothes than I’d made cumulatively in my whole life before then. It was both exhilarating and exhausting, energizing and nerve wracking all at the same time.
Here are some of my favorite pics from last year, along with
Five Things I Learned from Five Years in the Fashion Business
#1 It takes time
And the patience to be present and positive during the experience. Any viable solution requires adequate implementation, which is a process involving many days of frustration.
An important lesson for me in 2018 was that the success of a strategy must be measured over time, and be considered from numerous angles. I tend to believe that there is no ‘solved’ state, only the ever unfolding reactions to each new circumstance brought about by the previous solution.
#2 There’s more than one way to skin a cat
I’m a perfectionist and a control freak, and protect myself through the perfection of my work (I’d rather be irreproachable than take a risk). Thus my natural tendency is to implode from stress whenever I delegate tasks, rage internally when someone executes it other than how I would have done, and resign myself to ever more minute, piece-meal instructions for the most basic of tasks.
This really can only get one so far, and the more I’ve let go the smoother our work in the studio has gone. My mantra these days is ‘so long as it’s neat I don’t need to know the details’.
#3 People are human
People are how they are, not because they’re black or white, or fat or thin or smart or stupid, it’s because we’re all human. 2018 forced me to embrace the chaos that comes from working with people from different cultures. I realized that there’s real magic, magic that’s bigger than anything I could achieve on my own, in a group, not despite the chaos of miscommunication, but because of it.
#4 Celebrity has real power
Even without Kardashian level fame, I’ve come to realize that reputation precedes and determines so much. Businesses can survive due to the brute force of the owner over and above their shit service or product. Extremely basic marketing can elevate a product from curio to couture, and it’s all due to the power of celebrity.
Because of my personality I’ve shunned celebrity wherever possible, choosing to focus on the quality of my products and service. 2018 saw me ease up on my disdain for the entertainment industry, and embrace a bit of the usefulness of reputation delivered to a broad market through celebrity.
I can’t say it was exactly my cup of tea, but it’s an important observation to make and take on board in the fashion industry.
#5 Sharpen the Saw
This anecdote comes from Stephen Covey’s ‘the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’, and goes something like this:
You’re walking in the woods (as one does) and come across a woodcutter sweating like crazy cutting wood with a blunt saw (somehow you know it’s blunt…maybe he tells you). You ask the woodcutter why he doesn’t just sharpen his saw, and he responds ‘What? Are you crazy? I don’t have time for that look at all this wood I have to cut!!’
Of course it’s so much easier said than done. Our blunt saw is our lack of tailoring skills, which takes time and focus to address. But of course time spent in training is time not making money, which is difficult to afford in a small business.
We’re also drowning in work, which means we’re incredibly busy dealing with all the jobs we already have. That means that practicing new skills leaves our back log to pile up, and since we’re already booked till March it’s not a good idea to fall behind if we can help it…
Working on it though!!
Thank you for all the support peeps, it’s been really up and down emotionally for me for the past five years, and it’s really only your support that’s kept me from the edge of the cliff.
I’m looking forward to all the fashion of this year, all the curve-balls I couldn’t have foreseen, and all the gents I’ll get to meet with their ever more interesting ways of earning a living.
If you’d like to keep up to speed with what’s fashionable do check out our facebook and instagram feeds, and you’re always welcome to drop in every Thursday between 8am and 8pm, or call ahead on weekdays between 8am and 5pm.
I’ve been writing these blogs each year since I began the business, and if you’d like to see what the Benjamin of the past thought about the fashion industry, you can go here.