We are going to discuss certain insights, hacks and life truths amassed by a research that spans over a period of 23 years. What we are about to discuss are certain work beliefs coupled with all important life learnings that will hopefully prepare you for an exceedingly absorbing and equally intricate journey that lies ahead of you. Here we go…
Be inquisitive and don’t shy away from learning anything new
It is extremely important to have a hunger for acquiring knowledge, be on a constant lookout for leaning opportunities despite the fact that you have completed your formal education and you should never stop yourself from becoming a curious student. Come up with a lot of queries; look for knowledge and facts in every minute aspect around you. Such level of hunger will act as a catalyst in everything you do. Some of the best minds in creativity and fashion industry have been inspired by books, songs, politics, movies, travel and cultural points. It is recommended that apart from going through blogs and fashion magazines, you must also watch TV shows, visit art exhibits, food festivals and music concerts. You must experience travelling to exciting and far off places. All of this will surely enable you in building a sense of fashion in your mind. Notably, your work should be a reflection of the times we live in. So, it is imperative to be more inclusive and accepting of diversity.
Concentrate on your journey and you are bound to reach your destination
This is the place where most of the fun stuff happens. Approximately every single designer that we come across is aware about where they desire to be- the covers, the stores, the show stopper, the turnover etc, but are not aware about what is it going to take out of them to reach that point. You should not try to be an upcoming version of any great designer that already exists. There is a lot of difference between getting inspired from their work and blatantly copying without giving it a second thought. Get this into your systems. Please do not be on the lookout to become a success overnight. You must make the process slow and steady, as overnight success rarely happens apart from those on doctored reality shows and cheesy soap operas. It is important to experience the climb one step at a time and discontinue comparing yourself with anyone else. You must consider taking time off from everything else and carefully planning out further steps. You must go out and work in a job rather than thinking too much about coming up with your own label. It might be for a period of a month or even three years. That experience will be invaluable for you. Firstly, it will eradicate your ego. Secondly, the exercise of going up through the ranks will familiarize and sensitize you about the processes, structure and systems that are vital ingredients to success in retail. You are young and energetic and have a lot of years ahead of you to shape the direction of your brand…but first, you need to get a job and shape your work ethics in the right manner. The first three years of your career will teach you everything about working in a system and understand the art of dealing with people.
Not everyone has it easy at the start of their career
In today’s times, change is the only constant. You have to face nasty bosses, tough competition, jealous co-workers, social media, unaffordable rents and FOMO to keep you on your toes. You are bound to face stress, anxiety and burn out. So, your most effective weapon is to build your career around a sense of self-belief, values and ethics. Understand yourself, Know Yourself and love yourself. Once you have the desired level of patience and passion to go the extra mile, the sheer purpose will define your destiny. Don’t ever compromise on your well-being. Some of the most renowned designers are such a flawless expansion of their brands-for example Stella McCartney or Lagerfeld. Their work and life follow quite similar beliefs and paths. It is important that your sartorial voice is attached to everything that you stand for. You should worry less about the fashion designer community and the critics and be more concerned about what your consumer thinks.
Success and failure are actually two sides of one coin
You must embrace both but you should not let either of them define you. You must make it a point to watch Gen Next shows- They are probably the most promising and exciting. But, it has often been observed that after a swashbuckling debut, young designers often tend to fall off the cliff by season two. What actually happens is that they tend to get carried away by the attention, the accolades and the parties….they tend to get swayed away by the new-found glory that they tend to lose a grip of the things happening at the ground level. They tend to forget that season two is coming soon. They often lose sight of the future as they have not given much thought to making their label work in the long run. You may sail or sink, but if you truly believe that your product, all you need to do is keep working on the same till you come up with a formula that will take you forward. If you look closer, you will observe that a lot of it actually has a lot to do with pricing angle. This is what brings me to my next point…
Pricing is not just one aspect; it is the most significant aspect
The earlier you embrace this fact, the better. Whether you are in it for the scale game, large volumes, big numbers and value-for-money pricing, or you are in this customized clothing and hefty margins. Know your strengths, skills and find the best fit for yourself. You must be extremely realistic and honest about your strength and merge it with your style of work. It must be understood that designing is just one aspect of the job, but getting your manufacturing processes, sampling, marketing and back-end activities right will bring you in loop with those amazing people known as buyers!
Digital revolution is here to stay, so grab this opportunity with both hands
You should enroll yourself to a free online course on digital marketing or data analytics, subscribe yourself to dynamic websites such as Fast Co. and Digi Day, know your SEM from your SEO, and embrace the fact that your Instagram account may just way be the most significant way for you to become an important part of this universe. You should not just spend by giving money to any blogger who pledges to take your label to the next level.
Stop promoting your clothes as ‘exclusive, couture or bespoke ‘vaguely
The use of such words should be permanently banned from the glossary of Indian fashion.
Be respectful, be nice and be humble
It is extremely important to stay grounded, no matter how successful you become. You should not consider yourself as too big to write thank you notes and mails. Make it a point to wish everyone good morning. Acting as the boss was so 1980s. Compassion is the new black. You might be the owner of several labels, but what’s the point if everyone around you hates you and are planning to poison you behind closed doors? Your greatest achievement should be people telling you that you are nice, humble and respectful.
Steady, steady, steady
It is imperative to keep on reminding yourself that this is just job, not your life. It is something that we do, not who we are as a person. Don’t lose a part of yourself in your job; it is both stagnating and limiting. You must understand the importance of taking breaths, working out, meditating and most importantly, come up with different ways to switch off. The most valuable lesson that you can learn is that you have to learn from all.
Here is what every fashion industry person needs to have- purpose, passion, good health, a great life partner, lasting friendships, interesting conversations and exciting travels. All the very best!