Five years, my brain hurts a lot...
Thanks David Bowie this just about sums it up!
As does the above image which shows the incredible launch photo shot by Elise Lockwood Photography in late 2017, next to the behind the scenes shot of our beautiful model Dillon in the rain between takes, with splinters in her bum and tree sap in her undies. The reality that lies beneath your favourite brands is most likely similarly different!
Five years sounds like a lot, but also not a lot of time. The last five years have just been pretty strange, where they always so or was this a particularly bad bunch? I've had to move my country of manufacturing 3 times due to political and economic unrest, we've been through years of a global pandemic, and just when we there was light at the end of the tunnel, Russia invaded Ukraine and we've entered a global economic downturn and potentially global recession. It's been tough!
But to start at the beginning, I'm going to share what have been 5 of the big learnings in this business:
1) Don't take no for an answer. If you think you have a great idea for something that's never been done before, don't let people who have more experience in that industry convince you that it can't be done because it hasn't been done. I mean, do your homework, but I've always felt that as an industry outsider who only started in Bras proper in about 2015, I'm more prepared to challenge the conventional wisdom and keep asking 'why?' when well-qualified people tell me no!
2) Start before you're ready. It honestly took me years of learning on-the-job, after I'd started to really understand what I was doing and get across it. If you think you can know everything up-front, you'll never start.
3) Stick to what you know. Your authenticity, your personal experience and your belief in what you're doing and why is what bonds you to an idea you'll be wedded to for many years, through thick and thin. I was a frustrated consumer, going through breast cancer treatment and unable to find what I needed anywhere - non-wired bras in proper bra sizes and natural fibres. I had no practical experience in bras, and a corporate career, but I knew my experience wasn't unique and that I had to do something about it.
4) When life throws you lemons, make lemonade - yes also not me, thank you Dale Carnegie. In 2019 I practiced daily gratitude for the business I hoped would soon support me, despite being down to my last $3k in the world, but I felt like I needed to give up and get a 'proper job' which I did. I went back into my old industry, unsure about what I was doing but determined to have a go. On day 3, my day off, I was fired for not agreeing to post all the company's content on my personal LinkedIn page! I was shocked (and by the way, illegal on their part), but I took it as a lesson that I should be following my passion and my true path. I decided to just launch a second colour - Vintage Peach that week, and I called an old PR friend who made one call to The Project and got me and my compostable bras on. Suddenly, I had a proper business and I was very grateful for being fired from a job I realised I probably never wanted.
5) Accept the help of those offering it. Over the years I've been extremely humbled by people's willingness to help across marketing, legals, strategy, and general business. I have sometimes felt awkward accepting the help, but where people see you as a decent person trying to do good thing, they like to help.
That's all for now. Small business everywhere is doing it tough with the triple whammy of the pandemic, the war, and the Apple ios changes (which mean that targeted ads no longer work, unless you're able to spend tens of thousands on ads a month, which pretty much all of us are not) have been pretty devastating. Your ongoing support means the world, and I'm proud to have made the 5 year mark!