New York is full of creative talent in the fashion industry and many people try to make it as fashion designer's but without the proper support and guidance it can prove to be more of a challenge than first realized. One of our passions at Manufacture New York is supporting New York's incredible designers through our fashion development services and our co-working space. But even with all of this it's still easy for someone starting out in this business to feel overwhelmed.
So last friday night we joined forces with the amazing Shannon Whitehead Lohr, of Factory45 -an online accelerator program that is another great resource for designer/entrepreneurs- and had a panel discussion with a small group of designers. It was a great opportunity for emerging fashion designers to hear about the struggles and successes of those who have worked with MNY and/or Factory45 and are actually running their own labels with commitments to sustainability as part of their businesses.
There was a ton of great information shared - way too much for one blog post! But I will share the answers to Shannon's final question to the designers:
What is your one piece of advice for someone interested in launching their own company?
Follow your dreams and your passions..life is way too short not to go after what you love and what you want. There is always going to be a lot to learn and there will always be another book to read, class to take, or seminar to complete. But in this business, you are going to learn by doing. Equip yourself as best as you can with information and resources, take the leap, and fake it tip you make it! Create an industry support network; whether it be through a startup accelerator, a co-working space, or an online network of fashion professionals. No matter where it's coming from, support is key! Lastly, surround yourself with people who will cheer you on and make sure that you have some of your own internal pep talks prepared and ready to go!
Learn how to say no. You don't need to take every single opportunity that comes your way. Take only the ones you feel are important and can truly further your career or mean something to you personally. Trust your gut.
Stay true to your vision and go at your own pace.
1. Don’t go it alone. Hire wonderful people to help you do the things that are not your greatest strengths. For me that was a patternmaker and samplemaker, a web designer, a factory, a mentor and an accountant.
2. Trust your guts always. There are no rules and no right way to do things, and yet everyone around you is going to tell you how you should be doing something. Pay attention, but don’t take everyone’s word.
3. Fear doesn’t go away. I’m terrified of being up here right now. But fear is like fog; its not really real. When you acknowledge its presence, but walk forward anyways, it begins to dissipate and you might find the most gorgeous view on the other side.
Surround yourself with a person/ people who have your best interest in mind and are honest. When everyone else is just being nice or saying what they think you want to hear, you will get the truth from them. For me, that person is my husband. He tells me when things are looking good and he lets me know when I should reevaluate. There are enough "yes men" in the world. If you want to push your brand and go far, you need to hear the truth.