When people find out I’ve written books, they’ll often say to me with enthusiasm, “I want to write a book!”
To which I say, “Do it!”
What I know is hardly anyone will do it because it’s a ton of work. I’ve only worked with publishers but even if you self-publish, it involves steps you never even knew about when you got that great idea for a book. And they aren’t all fun!
That’s how I feel about women behind fashion brands. I’ve studied fashion. I understand some of the steps involved in getting a garment to a retail floor ready to be purchased by the end user.
There are comparable steps to getting a book from the outline stage to actual print to actually getting on bookshelves or online where books are sold. Nothing magical appears overnight to serve the public’s pleasure. It just looks that way.
Two books I read this year detail the behind-the-scenes hard work that the authors were so willing to take on in order to get their products into the marketplace. The women behind the Juicy Couture brand had their say in The Glitter Plan: How We Started Juicy Couture for $200 and Turned it into a Global Brand (Gotham Books, 2014). And Sophia Amoruso, founder and CEO of Nasty Gal outlines how she got her start with a vintage clothing store on eBay in #GIRLBOSS (Portfolio/Penguin, 2014).
Both these books are inspiring to anybody interested in having their own business. Building something out of nothing is gritty, tough, and full of potholes you couldn’t imagine. You have to have a tenacity or a passion to keep going and Pamela Skaist-Levy, Gela Nash-Taylor and Sophia Amoruso had that.
There are similarities in the people and how they built their businesses.
1. All three women (the two from Juicy and the one from Nasty Gal) enjoyed creative fashion expression.
2. All three women had temperaments that didn’t fit in well with 9-5 job settings. In fact, it wouldn’t have been surprising if they’d all been voted “Least likely to succeed” in high school.
3. All three women started small and grew into big brands and got through that growth by learning on the job.
And there’s a big difference too.
The Juicy women appear to be girly-girl extroverts while Sophia of Nasty Gal is a self-proclaimed introvert.
Here are a few highlights from The Glitter Plan
If you’re considering starting a business, think about this: You are the customer. Do you want it, meaning the product you’re making? We have always approached design in a practical sense, which is different from some other designers. For us, it’s about what we want to wear every day, and what we can’t find but need in our own closets. We are the customers.
If you have an idea, figure out how to make it in the least expensive way possible. Then find a local store that has strong relationships with customers–there’s one in every town–go to the store and see fi they like your product. If they are into it, they will showcase it and your product will get out there through word of mouth. Or put it online or on your blog. You have to work it.
The world can be a small place if your product is good. Give it away to influencers and tastemakers or host an unforgettable event.
Here are a few highlights from #GIRLBOSS
While I truly believe that you must have intentions to fulfill your dreams, I also think you have to leave room for the universe to have its way and play around a bit. Don’t get so focused on one particular opportunity that you’re blinded to other ones that come up. If you think about one thing, and talk about it all the time, you’re being too obsessive. You might ruin it. If you let yourself meander a bit, then the right things and the right people fall into place.
Even though introverts might keep quiet during meetings, they have several tendencies that actually come in handy in the world of business: They make fewer risky financial decisions (hello, $1 million in the bank at Nasty Gal!), are more persistent when faced with a problem that isn’t easily solvable, and can also be very creative.
I treat my Internet passwords as modern-day sigils, embedding them with wishes or promises to me, or even financial goals for the company…That way, every time I go to log in anywhere, I’m subtly reminding myself of what I’m working for.
Reading these books may steer you away from launching a clothing line but they could provide lots of great tips for running your fashion and styling business and satisfying your clients. Enjoy!