I can’t believe it’s been nearly a year since I took a chance and chased my dream of launching a cashmere brand. There’s no doubt it’s been one of the craziest years of my life, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. Being able to combine my (intense) love for Italy and passion for amazing cashmere is something I wasn’t sure would ever happen. Now that it has, and as incredible as it has been, I’ve also learned quite a few lessons. Some of those lessons were easier than others, but all of them valuable. So, in the spirit of Lois Avery’s one year anniversary on 28th October, I’d like to share them with you today.
It takes time to build a business and establish a reputation. You just have to keep pushing ahead and opportunities will arise along the way. You’ll learn quickly that some things come to fruition and some things don’t — sometimes you have to wait six to nine months or longer just to find out whatever you’re waiting on still might not happen. So, just bear in mind that unless you have an editorial date set in stone, everything will always be up in the air. But don’t give up! Just keep going and know that people are watching and taking note, even if it doesn’t seem so to you.
You will make lots of these and they will hurt — both personally and financially (trust me on this one). All I can say is ‘fast fail’ — learn quickly and pivot. Remember that everyone makes mistakes and quickly move on to the next challenge.
You need friends in whatever industry your new business is in. Your colleagues and connections will be the people you meet in the social media world, so make sure to have a presence. Some people you will click with, others you won’t, but you must treat everyone with respect. I believe that if you are enthusiastic, kind and genuinely yourself, then people will be drawn to you and want to help you.
As it turns out, the phrase “a picture tells a thousand words” couldn't be truer. The best way to tell your brand story is through photographs, but yes, photography can be expensive. If that means you can only afford a short session to get some profile photos, still do it! You need those beautiful photos! But in the meantime, teach yourself photography. There are so many courses out there — books, YouTube videos, workshops — that offer instruction. You will be amazed at what you can do even just on a mobile phone once you know the basics.
There is no finishing line
Unless you sell your business or it fails, there is always a next step. This doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate your achievements, though. In fact, you really should, as this is the closest to a finish line you might ever get! Pour yourself a glass of bubbly and indulge in your favourite cupcakes. Or just pat yourself on the back. Your first sale, your first customer email, your first wholesale order — these are all tiny finishing lines that deserve to be marked.
I’m sure there will be many more lessons to learn in the coming years, but in the meantime, it’s been so great for me to be a part of business communities like Big Small Business.
If you have a question, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I love connecting with people and am so thankful for those who have supported me — it feels wonderful to now give back.