Almost three years ago now I started what was my dream business – a women’s fashion label with a focus on sustainable design. I had poured years of my life into planning this business and I was so very excited about every single detail.
Where it all began
The day I left my corporate job to pursue my dream was pretty much the best day ever. I’d been working an office job for an insurance company for the previous 12 months, spending my desk days dreaming up my creative business. It had been a hard slog, and an incredibly stark contrast to my creative and carefree days as a student of design.
I’d loved every minute of my fashion design diploma. I loved the creative freedom. I loved working with fabric. I loved designing collections.
Ever since I had started my diploma, and every minute post graduation, I had been dreaming up starting my own fashion label. I’d taken my corporate job in the interim, to save up some money and launch in full force, as so many creatives do. But my heart was always set on this business.
The day I quit will forever be a wonderful memory. Creative freedom I thought, bliss.
And it was. My first year of my design business was carefree, wonderful and full of optimism.
I set myself up with a studio in a big artist’s warehouse full of artists and designers. It was pretty much the best thing ever.
I loved creating in my studio, more than almost anything. It brought me such joy.
Reality sets in
As time went on reality set in as a few things became increasingly clear.
First and foremost, my business just wasn’t making enough money to support itself long term – a very sobering fact. I was making money, but not nearly enough to cover all my material expenses, studio rent, pay myself a wage and consider growing the business beyond what it was with more investments.
Beyond the money, my business just wasn’t what I thought it would be before I began. The realities of designing a specific product for a specific market (aka what a designer does!) meant I didn’t have the real creative freedom I craved. I had to design what sold, not what I wanted.
The constraints of designing a purely sustainable product tied me into limiting ways of working which made scaling things difficult, if not impossible, given my environmental ideals.
And then there was the sewing. Oh god, the sewing. Now I love sewing, but when you’ve stitched the same seam on the same bag more than five times you start to feel more like a production line worker in a sweatshop than a designer.
I realised that I didn’t love my business. In fact, sometimes I felt like I didn’t even like it.
And I’m talking about the bad days, of course I am. I had wonderful days too.
But I didn’t love what my business had become.
A struggle to make money.
A constant tug of war between saleability and the work I really wanted to do.
A constricted, unscaleable environmental ideal.
A production line.
And that’s when I realised I didn’t want to run a fashion business anymore.
It wasn’t serving me. It was serving an outdated dream. A conception of who I thought I was. An ideal of a business I thought I wanted to run. Perhaps once upon a time, this would have been the ideal business for me. But it wasn’t who I was anymore.
I was scared to write this post for a long time. I write about loving the creative process and getting inspired, and here I was, struggling to find the inspiration.
But I’ve realised over this last year, that as creators we need to be true to ourselves.
So earlier this year, I shut down my fashion business. I officially called it quits.
I was scared to make that decision for a long time, because I thought it meant giving up on my creative dream. But I’ve realised now that it couldn’t be further from the truth.
What I am giving up is an outdated dream, an old conception of me and who I was.
I’m shedding that creative skin to make room for what is more me, more true.
I’m making way for the new.
Making way for the new
I’ve discovered these last few years my love of writing. I’m writing more than ever now. Not just here on For the Creators but for a multitude of purposes. And I’m making money doing it. On my own terms. Working for myself.
I’ve realised that I love sharing my ideas and my knowledge. I love helping people find their creativity, get motivated, inspired and unstuck through the ideas I share here on For the Creators and in my eCourses.
I haven’t left my studio days behind either.
Quitting my design business wasn’t the all or nothing I thought it might be.
I have a wonderful studio where I create to my heart’s content.
I’m experimenting with techniques and materials and I’ve found a passion for jewellery design.
My studio days are fun again and it’s so so refreshing.
Calling it quits
I might do fashion again. And I might not.
I can dabble in fashion. I can be a hobbyist. I can even spark up another fashion business in the future if that’s what I decide I want.
But till then, I’m calling it quits on old dreams and moving forward.
Fashion design was one evolution for me. A necessary and wonderful step to where I am today.
Giving up doesn’t come easy
Giving up can be tough. Admitting that something you’ve poured so much into isn’t what you want anymore is incredibly hard.
But it’s essential to moving forward. Onwards and upwards. Towards doing work you truly love. Towards doing work that serves you.
If there’s something in your life right now that isn’t serving you anymore, it’s time to take a real look at it and ask yourself ‘is this what I really want?’
Sometimes we cling to outdated dreams because we’re scared. And sometimes we cling to them because we haven’t even realised yet that what we are pursuing isn’t what we really want.
If you’re clinging to an out dated dream, I urge you to muster up everything you have to be brave enough to shed away the old and let the new in.
There’s amazing things out there for you beyond this one dream. I promise.
Is there something you’re hanging onto in your life that doesn’t ring true for you anymore? Will you be brave enough to let it go and let the new in? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.