''This has been a week for catching up, checking in and coordinating. After reviewing all of the emails I saved six months ago to follow up on, I realized that the most common question I’ve been asked in 2010 is: “How do I become a success in the fashion industry?” The question came from bloggers, designers, students and professionals — individuals who wanted to become social media consultants, start an agency or become the next top blogger — they all had voices that wanted to be heard.
Here are my 11 insights for moving towards a more successful existence in the fashion industry in 2011 — in no particular order:
1. LOVE: You have to LOVE the what you do. You have to LOVE your business, your blog, your company and your talents. LOVE is the only constant through the ups and downs you’re going to experience as your move forward in your life and career.
2. LOYALTY: A successful business is built on LOYALTY. If someone helps you move forward, seize the opportunity to help him or her when you’re in the position to return the favor; do it no questions asked! Be cautious about burning bridges; as you grow older, you’ll find that rebuilding those bridges becomes harder and harder to do. But remember, never allow kindness and LOYALTY to be mistaken for weakness. Stay away from relationships that contain one way streets, no reciprocity and parties who think your kind intentions make you a door mat.
3. GUT: You’ve got to trust your GUT — the inner core of your being that contributes to your success. Unfortunately, we sometimes give our LOYALTY to the wrong person or alliance. Learn from these mistakes; if your GUT tells you no, stirring those familiar feelings of deceit or anxiety, move gracefully and swiftly away. This is a necessary art to master in your personal and professional worlds.
4. PASSION: Closely interwoven with LOVE, you need PASSION. Do you know how Margiela was inspired by 17th century Japanese footwear? Do you find that website code creates fashionable, poetic haiku? Do you Tumblr towards ecstasy in search of fashionable online content? That PASSION is fueled by your LOVE of fashion. That PASSION enables you to stop following trends in fashion and business and become an expert — a person who is a trendsetter and adviser within a specific niche.
5. SELF: Can you remove yourself and analyze a problem from a non-biased point of view? Do you follow the latest trends that the Internet and magazines are raving about, or are the trends they’re introducing already old in your mind by the time they’ve reached your ears? Learn to transcend the now — stop living your life in perpetual beta or real-time; take some time to focus on teaching your SELF to transcend being reactionary and become a visionary. The evolution of SELF is something that only you can do.
6. MARCH: You have to MARCH to the beat of your own drum. It’s important to cultivate this practice, as opposed to mindlessly marching along with the masses. Working on SELF will help you MARCH with confidence on your path. I would also recommend taking up a Yoga practice of your choice.
7. RISE: A few years ago, I experienced career epiphanies through slight intoxication with a well known figure in technology (It was SXSW – you kinda have to drink in Texas). Not realizing the impact and truthfulness of the conversation until later, I’d like to share it now.
This person told me, “Macala, cream rises to the top. Stop paying attention to your perceived competition, because you know what? It’s exactly what I said, it’s your perception. Go create your own world through the content you produce. Tell your story and your industry’s story from your perspective. If you’re right, you’ll RISE. The people you can’t get to to will come to you.”
8. INVEST: I’ve always said that FashionablyMarketing.Me and my other properties were companies or ideas built on Open Source and Broken Dreams. There’s a commonality in everyone that works for any media property or company of mine. They love fashion and they’re hungry. Their PASSION drives them to work for what they ultimately want. What’s more, open source software and social platforms enabled me to find them.
Once I found them, I got to know them, and interestingly enough, found that each of us had a story that had caused our lives to shatter in some way; leaving us with broken dreams and hearts. But our PASSION and sense of SELF caused us to rebuild and MARCH towards our dreams. I’ve INVESTED in every partner or employee related to my business. I’m a firm believer in the “hire for attitude, train for skill” approach. All that glitters is not gold; it’s better to mold what you need than to find a pre-made, perfect (or what seems to be perfect) person to fill a role.
9. RELIEVE: Sometimes after we’ve INVESTED, we realize we’ve made the wrong choices. It’s okay — to err is human, to forgive is divine. But once you realize that you’ve made an error, you have to RELIEVE that situation. In order to grow the right way, hire people and partner with other companies slowly and smartly. Build long term relationships instead of one night stands. If you make a mistake, dissolve the relationship quickly and tactfully.
10. RISK: Sometimes you have to trust your GUT and take a RISK — whether calculated or simply crazy. If you don’t investigate or implement those ideas you just have a hunch about or that idea that took you from your sleep at 2AM on Tuesday, you can miss valuable opportunities! The Internet is a digital experimentation playground. Go for broke – why do you think VCs invest in so many technologies?
11. FREE: I hate the model of FREE, but in paying your dues, you are going to do things for FREE. But here’s the key to FREE: always do things for FREE or for profit, but never do them for cheap. After you’ve paid your dues, make sure you get your value. ''