Stepping out into business or a new role is tough, stepping out into an industry known for its competitiveness is even tougher. I have found the fashion industry to be filled with beautiful, creative and inspiring people, but of course I have also seen the under belly of it too. Being an eternal optimist, over-sharer and all around often inappropriately open person, I have found some people react almost allergically to my supportiveness (assume that's a word for this posts sake), my silliness, my sense of fun and lack of, here I will say it, boundaries! I just don't operate in a careful way, I am all in, all out, 100% me. Not everyone likes this - I speak without thinking, I say things which I question for hours afterwards because I literally open my mouth and out comes a stupid joke or overly emotive statement and often people don't know what to do with that. Personality aside, I have found myself let down again and again by some people who don't view collaboration the way I do; people who are guarded, people who don't like opening the gates and letting others through. I have never viewed life or success this way - other peoples wins inspire me and I don't believe in holding back the praise or celebration or being closed off to those around me.
In the cut throat industry that is fashion, finding your voice is not often the challenge, it is feeling confident enough to use it. The challenge is backing yourself and developing an immunity to judgement, opinion and the risk of being poorly received. There are loads of people lined up who will turn away when you come up, will smile to your face but judge from behind your back and you will know this instinctively. This won't be a bitchy comment, sabotage or a war of words, it will be an unease, a discomfort, a little pain in your chest which will cause self doubt and sadness. It will be a sense of not being good enough in the company of a certain person, a particular group or scene. This has been my experience and often still is. This is not unique to fashion of course but I have stumbled upon this feeling with far greater frequency than I used to since entering into fashion, creating my business, putting myself out there publicly and mixing with others in this circle. I would love to say this isn't true but I would be lying.
On one hand I count the passionate, inspiring and kind souls who have supported my journey and and on the other hand I count the others. It is a strong split down the middle. A thick skin is a must in fashion but it is possible to remain soft, gentle and real. The Devil Wears Prada is often drawn upon as a true representation of the fashion game but it isn't. I am sure those extremities exist where the stakes are high, right at the top where the competition is fierce, but everywhere else it is ridiculously over the top. The walls in the real world are not made of Miranda's, they are made of subtle glances masking bitter judgement, smiles hiding disdain and meaningless "likes" camouflaging obvious disregard.
Stay kind. Stay silly. Stay real. Don't buy into the game, be you. It doesn't need to be serious, be lighthearted. If you love your images, your work, your writing, your ideas, stand by them and be prepared for the silence. Keep working and creating, reaching out to people and don't be sucked into being "professional" at the cost of being real. Keep it raw, creativity doesn't exist in a controlled sphere, it is outside the lines and a little crazy. You don't need to fit the mold or say the right thing all the time, you can be you. Be that person who isn't afraid to get it wrong sometimes. If you admire someone, tell them and if someone hurts your confidence, stand strong and keep searching for those who will build you up. This journey is one which has to be learned the hard way but do not close yourself off along the way. Find your tribe, the bunch who receive your invitations with grace and meet you half way, the ones who lift you up and are genuine to a fault. Look for the feeling which overcomes you after time in someones presence - it should be pure light. Not everyone will like you, your work or what you are about but no one should leave you feeling sick with self doubt. Be kind always, but separate yourself from the people, the places or the powers that don't service your soul.
Guess what, there is plenty of room at the top, it doesn't need to be a glamorous version of hunger games. It could look a whole lot different. Ignore anyone who closes the door and go right ahead and make your own damn doors...while you're at it, give someone else a leg up the same way you once needed it too x