Fashion Startup Event in Chicago — 2 Things I Learned Last Friday

Steps to starting a fashion business in Chicago
Group pic from the “Launch a Line Bootcamp” startup event in Chicago

I love live events. I mean, LOVE them. And Friday’s Startup Bootcamp was no exception. It’s not every day you get 15 emerging fashion designers together in a room (with a view from the 84th floor, no less) to talk about their new businesses.

I started the day with a question.

“Why did you come to the event?”

One of the first answers a designer threw out was,

“I want to know if my idea will work.”

In all honesty, this is an excellent reason to attend an event. I mean, who DOESN’T want a guarantee that all their hard work will pay off? Why not do as much research as you can and talk to as many experienced people as you possibly can before you start spending money?

It sticks out as 2 main themes I noticed from the day.

#1) We all want “the formula” for success

The Startup Bootcamp is about as close to the perfect “steps to launch” blueprint as you’re gonna get but you know what? It’s still not a formula for success. “Do these steps in this order and you will be guaranteed massive sales and piles of money”.

I wish I could give you a guarantee, but of course that’s not possible. I can tell you what I did, in what order, with precise details.

And that system worked for ME.

I can tell you what’s working – and working well – for other designers right now, and what specific actions they’re taking.

And that system is working for THEM.

I can lay out on a golden platter the exact steps I would take today if I were starting over again with a new fashion product. And I’m pretty confident I could succeed with a new fashion business. I really am.

But I could never be sure.

Because there is no perfect formula and there is no EASY button. You learn from those who’ve done it before, you make a GREAT product, you work your booty off, you find your customer and give ’em what they want, and you market like hell. And you keep doing that until you make money. That’s pretty much the formula and it can WORK. No doubt about it.

#2) We’re all scared as hell

No one wants to fail. No one likes rejection. We don’t want to be judged by others.

It’s not easy to start a business and put yourself out there. Lots of people think you’re crazy and urge you to keep your day job, play it safe, and do the “normal” thing.

Which is why you want to surround yourself with other entrepreneurs. People who “get it” and understand why you’re doing what you do. People who don’t bat an eye when you tell them you’re selling your house and moving in with your parents with your husband and kids so you can fund your business (yes, that’s a true scenario).

“Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.” George Addair

A big shift in dealing with startup fear comes when you realize that failing is inevitable. You’re going to do things wrong in your business and that’s part of the process to becoming GREAT at what you do.

The key is to feel the fear  – and do it anyway. Being afraid is normal and expected and it doesn’t have to crush you or keep you stuck.

It’s never been a better time to start a new business. I am SO EXCITED for the people I met at the event on Friday and I;mm rooting for them – and for YOU – all the way.

More pics below and here, on Facebook.

Have a great day!


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