I came across this quote just yesterday as I was going back to doing what I love (before starting a kids' line, I used to sit for hours in front of the computer reading my favorite bloggers and pinning on pinterest), and it really resonated with me.
"Be so good that they can't ignore you." - Steve Martin
Ele Story has had a great year, and yet I cannot help but feeling like something is missing. Now I am beginning to see what it is. I have started making deadlines and thinking too much about what our customers would like, would disapprove, etc. I started questioning what I was doing, and it became more about how many pieces we needed to sell to make our small business viable.
When we first started, I was so stoked about the first spring season--I had no audience yet, and was simply making things that I loved. I fell in love with certain designs and ideas and I hadn't yet thought about whether or not people would like it. When we went to ENK, the trade show in NYC, the buyers for boutiques were pretty right on on what pieces would do well--except for 2 of my designs--the short-alls and the summer swing jackets--very few stores picked up those styles, which were actually my favorite designs. I distinctly remember one sweet buyer told me, "I love your short-alls and the jackets, but I just don't think my customers would. I can't take the risk." I was both saddened and discouraged--after all, they were my favorite pieces. The ones I spent hours on end designing, sewing, perfecting.
Then when it came time to produce them, I was stubborn and insisted that we make a bunch anyway. It was a huuuge risk, since they hadn't done well at all for the stores--not only that, these particular pieces were very labor intensive and the seamstresses were going to charge us an arm and a leg for sewing these. And they (God bless their hearts, I do love them) even tried to talk me out of doing semi-rounded pleated pockets and little bows on the backs of the jackets. I stood my ground, even though I was starting to question the designs over and over again...: }
Well, the jackets ended up being a huge hit--and before we knew it, we were selling out. We went back for a second round of production, and came out with more color ways. It was an amazing feeling to share my designs with our customers out there, and to have the positive responses that we had. I did not sell myself short, but I made what I thought was truly unique and artistically pleasing. But it was still a scary thing to do.
Fall season: well, this one really caught me off guard, since I hadn't realized (being a rookie designer) that the samples were due in Jan. So I quickly put a collection of 38 pieces together. All within a week over the Christmas break from my work (did I mention I skipped both the Christmas family dinner and new year's?! : 0 ). Fall designing was extremely hard. I was second-guessing myself much of the time. I would fall in love with an idea and would mull over it for days, wondering if our customers, and esp the buyers would shun them. I had a lot of fears. I even confided in a close friend and former co-worker about my fears for this second season, and he said, "It's like a band--they usually have an amazing first album and the second one they start to think they need to up the first, and then they come out with something mediocre." He wasn't saying he thought my second collection would be mediocre, in fact, he said that he thought I would still up the first season (gotta love this guy). In the end, I think I still went with my instincts of what I liked, and it was a totally fine season, but I saw what fear and uncertainty did to the process--it was a much harder process and I wasn't challenging myself anymore. I was bound by what I thought people would like and buy. It was about what I needed to sell to make a living. And that was crippling me as an artist.
So--even though I am now mostly through designing for the next season, I feel like it's not too late to still challenge myself creatively, and push the boundaries that I have put there myself. It is so cliched, but I am my worst critic, and at the end of it all I want to feel like I am true to myself artistically.
I want Ele Story to be inspired and to inspire. I want it to be so good that it can't be ignored. What is your inspiration for 2015? Take your time to think about it--the good news is, you have the whole year ahead to think! :)