Lessons from the past year - what I now know: Vol 3

Lessons from the past year - what I now know: Vol 3

I believe in being brave. Brave enough to dream, to try, and to risk failure. I have also learned that there is very little behind the idea of intrinsic capabilities - what we are good at is what we have put a lot of practice into.

You'd be forgiven to think therefore, that, I'm very good at putting myself "out there". This couldn't be farther from the truth. I dare greatly, but always in the protection of a very private life. Most of my monumental failures are unknown even to those closest to me. What most people see as my successes are immensely edited highlight reels. 

So you can imagine how I felt when I was about to launch Coeur et Maman - something so public. I was petrified of failure in such an open arena. Crippled even, by what I imagined may be public mocking. My ambitions are harder masters to quieten than my fears, and so on to launch I went.

And then I failed. Or so it felt.

Lesson 3 - If at first you don't succeed, get over the perceived public humiliation and try again

In September of 2022, I announced our first ever pre-sale. This was to be our great launch to market; our introduction to our target customers. The pre-sale that would set us up for subsequent successful launches. One of the ideas behind a pre-sale is the ability to accurately assess demand for your product, and use that exact demand to meet onerous manufacturing costs in a field whose crippling costs are so heavily front-ended. A leg-up if you will. After spending an inordinate amount on development costs, this would have been a lifesaver.

But our pre-sale didn't reach the target to allow us to meet the minimum order quantities needed to manufacture our first collection. It was a flop, you see. And I was crushed! So crushed I retreated into myself for the remainder of the year, no longer being active on social media or the blog. 

Instead of reflecting on the lessons learnt, figuring out what to do better and differently to ensure improved chances of success, I went about licking wounds I had created in my head.

Sure, I am human. I feel disappointment. I feel sadness. That was not what drove my actions however - it was the humiliation I couldn't bear. Having to show my face again, explain to everyone that we, I, had failed, that we would try again another time - that was awful. Instead I hid. I explained nothing, I did nothing else to change the situation. I retreated. 

My ambitions are tougher masters to quieten than my fears. 

No one can make me feel inferior without my permission. No one can humiliate me over something that I face upfront and take ownership of. No one was humiliating me. This is business - you try, you may fail, you may succeed.

Somewhere in the midst of the wound-licking, I hired a fashion business consultant to audit the business model and advise on what I needed to do to go wholesale. Imagine being able to buy our products on the high street! Going wholesale would have saved my bacon, given me the ability to bypass the challenges I had encountered so far. Her crashing advice? Launch a successful pre-sale, achieve success as a retail business, and generate the necessary retail metrics to show wholesalers that your products are a worthy investment. What she said in a nutshell was this - DO NOT GO WHOLESALE, NOT YET!

I could have wept, but my ambitions are tougher masters to quieten than my fears. So instead I read and re-read her audit report multiple times. Each time armed me with renewed vigour to make a go at things; to try again. Somehow I started to believe once more that "success" was possible. Most importantly, I started to believe in the intrinsic value of what I had to offer.

Success didn't seem to matter any more. At least not in the traditional definition I had been imposing on myself. The pressure to succeed was off the table, and I could just focus on adding value, doing what I loved. I could just believe in my products; there is nothing to ever be ashamed of about that. I got over the humiliation.

I was going to try again. This time, I would plan better. I would be more active, more proactive, I would sell, sell, sell and sell my products way before I even had them in hand. I would launch another pre-sale. Just as the business consultant had said to do. 

Being liberated from chains I had created for myself feels utterly exhilarating. I finally have the courage to try again, and risk public failure if that's necessary. That I now no longer find that crippling is incredible to me. That I am actively putting my face on social media is incredulous to me. But here I am; happy to have learnt the power of failing publicly and trying again so early on in the business.

What have you learnt from failing publicly? Do you allow yourself the risk of public failure, or do you shy away from pursuing your dreams for fear you humiliate yourself? Let's connect in the comments below and share some thoughts.

As always, with all my love


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