Fashion Business Owner Musings: When It Feels Like Nothing You’re Doing is Making a Difference
You know how sometimes it feels like you’re doing so very much to grow your business and provide people with something useful and beautiful but it doesn’t seem like all that work is having much of an impact?
I get that feeling. Not some much anymore, because, honestly, you all are so incredible with sending me emails saying how much these blog posts help you. But in the past, when I was still trying to get this business off the ground, it often felt like the stuff I was doing was a waste of time.
So much work goes into everything we do with our businesses. In particular with our blog posts, emails, and social media posts. It’s so much work and it can feel at times like those messages are just going out into the ether and landing on no one.
Who’s even reading this?
Does anybody actually care about this?
Why would anyone pay attention to this?
Any of that sound familiar? Sometimes, it can feel as though the work you’re doing is having no impact what-so-ever.
But I promise you, you’re having an impact.
Even though you might not yet be getting responses to the marketing emails you send, or tons of comments on the Instagram pictures you’re posting, or all that many link clicks on those blog posts you’re sharing, people are listening. It may be a small amount of people, but still, they’re there.
If you’re taking the time to create thoughtful content, you’re on the right track.
What do I mean by that? I mean, you’re writing from a place of passion. You’re talking about things that matter to you, your values, your ideas, thoughts, and opinions. You’re not scared of being vulnerable and sharing your point of view, even if there’s a chance that it won’t be the popular opinion, even if it makes you feel exposed to the world.
In my business, when I learned the art of taking the pain points of my audience (you all!) and sharing my vulnerable thoughts and feelings and experiences on the topic, I started to create actual relationships with you all. We’ve become virtual buddies. And that’s freaking amazing.
But that takes time. And the only way to get there is to not let your brain tell you that no one is listening, that your work is having no impact.
I want to share something with you. It’s something that happened a few days ago and inspired this very post. Alyssa Woods, founder of an awesome brand called VAVA Lingerie and someone I met almost two years ago at a meetup I hosted, posted the below picture and caption on her brand’s Instagram.
It’s such an amazing example of what I’m talking about here in this post.
First, she shared her values and her vulnerabilities in a way that also provided support and encouragement to her audience, and the engagement that she received on this post proves how powerful that is.
Second, she shared how much receiving my emails every week has helped her with her business– showing me that all the work I put into my communication with all of you is actually having impact. I’m so humbled and grateful to read that. And my goal in pointing it out is to remind you that you, too, can get there. You can get to the point where your audience tells you how much you’re helping them. But you’re only gonna get there if you keep going.
I’ve read some iteration of this several times this past year, and it’s been such a nice reminder in the barrage of well meaning but often overwhelming business advice that the internet has to offer. This year was a huge milestone in seeing a future for VAVA as a viable, long term way to support myself, and a large part of that was a change in perspective that’s allowed me to be a little more patient with myself and with my business. I realized, at some point, that I have spent that past three and a half years in an on-again-off-again state of weird self-induced panic, staring down a to-do list that should take years, but that I was convinced I could knock out right now if I just worked enough. Spoiler alert: people in a weird state of self-induced panic do not make great decisions. I’ve found that, for me anyway, I am more likely to actually get shit done when I stop putting so much pressure on myself, and I do a way better job of keeping my decisions in alignment with my larger, impact based goals for VAVA (i.e. helping to work towards a more sustainable, less exploitive apparel industry). Probably my favorite resource this year has been the weekly emails that I get from Nicole, the founder over at @startupfashion. Yes, they often contain great, tangible resources for small apparel businesses, but more importantly they have helped to keep me grounded and realistic, and to keep my priorities in check. If you’re feeling underwater in anything that you’re trying to accomplish, I totally recommend this woman’s voice in your ear. For me, it’s been a weekly no-bs pep talk that snaps me out of my fog and reminds me that everything is, and is going to be, just fucking fine. I’m feeling really good and excited about what 2018 holds for this endeavor, and I’m super stoked to share it with you. I can’t thank you guys enough for your support this past year, for keeping me busy doing something that I love, and for taking the time to follow along here. 🖤 -Alyssa
Keep going, designers. People are listening.
Lots of love and encouragement,