Once upon a time, I had a stint with Fashion design. I basically stumbled into it after I hand-stitched a dress together and wore it out. My friends loved it and suggested I explore a fashion career or something related. Then my mother, being a creative herself, knew how to sew so she taught me pattern cutting and I began my fashion venture.
Before I knew what was happening, I started getting orders. I got a large order to supply Asoebi outfits for a group of ladies – sisters and friends. Of course I took on the job, but unfortunately, it was an epic fail, lol. Majority of the clothes didn’t fit properly, and there was no time for major adjustments. There were also some I couldn’t finish until the morning of the event.
As if that was not bad enough, some clients refused to pay their balance. The experience taught me several lessons about failure. Below are a few of what I learnt from failure:
Do you like the project or Just the idea?
Looking back now, I realise I liked the idea of being a fashion designer more than actual fashion design. Yes, I enjoyed the finished product but I didn’t enjoy the process of getting there. I understand this is the case sometimes but I believe the joy of the final outcome should outweigh the dislike of the process and motivate you to keep going. If you had asked me if this was something I keep doing even if I wasn’t paid to do it, I’m not entirely sure my answer would’ve been yes. So be sure you are passionate about the work and not just the idea of it.
Don’t take on more than you can handle
I was unprepared, ill-equipped and not ready for such a large order. So it was almost inevitable that things would go wrong. I had been dealing with individual clients and it had been going well, which was why I was referred to in the first place. To avoid failure, you need to be honest with yourself and clients. There’s a thin line between taking a risk and being stupid. I had no business taking on a large group all at once, with the time frame I was given, which leads me to my next point.
Give realistic timelines
For the first time in my life, I worked 48hours straight without a wink of sleep, went to bed for a couple of hours and was back up trying to finish all the clothes. And I still didn’t finish on time. Believe in yourself but don’t grossly overestimate yourself as well. Give a realistic deadline and if the client’s deadline is too soon for you, politely decline. You may feel like you’ll lose a lot of money but if the timeliness is unrealistic you’ll lose much more than money. You may lose customers/future customers, your reputation, relationships and much more.
Remain calm and professional
The situation I found myself in may have been much worse if I had an attitude. My sister sat in on the first fittings with the ladies and marvelled at how calm I was in contrast to the customers. They were very upset, rightly so, and did not hide their feelings at all. I was constantly listening, reassuring and apologetic, right up till the actual day. This helped to ensure that an already very tense situation did not become worse and I was still able to salvage a few relationships.
Do you have any lessons from personal failure? Please share in the comment section below. 🙂