Have you received good news and bad news at the same time? Or something amazing happens then the opposite happens at the exact moment? “Wtf” is what comes to most peoples minds, and this is what happened to me a month ago. I lost Spoonflower’s Small Business Grant competition (12 selected) but was able to attend at talk from world renown fashion icon and designer Detroit, born Anna Sui.
The irony right? A digital fabric printing, one-off company that started off struggling like myself, declined my application, while hours later I attended a full house, face to face talk with one of the “Top 5 Fashion Icons of the Decade”, and Lifetime Achievement Award winner.(Wiki) My emotions went from frustration to an I-can-really-do-this-ish!!
With Spoonflower, I was initially upset, but laughed reading their email because the company accidentally emailed (CC) over 150+ people exposing all of our email addresses. (Which is bad, because compromised emails means cpu viruses could spread). However I was grateful they were able to send feedback on why I didn’t win, so partial kiddos to them.
At the Anna Sui talk, I was elated with design joy! I learned how she started her passion at 4 yrs old, reading a fashion magazine, to her first celebrity wearing her dress – Madonna. I was a sponge and took videos, photos, notes and even shook her hand and gave her a business card. A once in a life time feeling and experience.
From the bad and good news that day, I learned quite a bit and am grateful that I can apply it to my design career in years to come.
WHAT I LEARNED:
Losing the Small Business Spoonflower Grant
1. Learn about grant writing. This honestly was my first grant letter/application, and I’m not the best writer. After winning, I checked out a book on grant writing called Grant Writing For Dummies by Beverly A. Browning. It all made sense after reading that lol. Spoonflower needed a “clear understanding of how winning, they would support my business financially.”
2. Don’t be petty. I said a few naughty words to Spoonflower while reading my letter from them. Partially because they made a huge mistake with the emails exposure, so I was like “Hey! You make mistakes too you (beep)” or in other word the company is no better than me and also mentioned their humble beginnings, (declined loans, needed start-up money, etc). But it didn’t matter, I will need their service later, so lets not “burn the bridge”.
3. Have a solid brand. I have online presence, but I was right in the middle of rebranding and updating my site. In other words they were confused on who my audience was, what my products were and “specifically how Spoonflower was an integral part of my small business.” And I might add you need starkly different unique products as you can see from the winners here.
Attending the Anna Sui Talk
1. Stay Inspired. Anna talked about the many inspiration boards she has, (some grouped only by color and story). She also mentions sometimes starting collections with just shoes. She puts up images of paintings, movies, and even drawings.
I just started a mood board for a collection I’ve started and putting anything on including plants (which is crumbling) is so great to do. (Stay tuned for that post)
2. Find your own way. As I mentioned she was 4, when she decided to be a fashion designer and she did everything she could to make it come true. It was incredible learning about how she did just that and even moved to New York, to go to Parsons School of Design. For me ,it’s designing everyday and never stop learning the craft – especially if your passionate about it.
3. Make money via licensing. Anna Sui, has multiple streams of income. This is nothing new to artists, but if your wanting to keep a steady flow of income, licensing in different areas in the field is beneficial. Anna had perfume, makeup, kids clothing and more… I have… none. BUT I’m learning how!
I hope you found good ideas from my experience, it definitely was a bitter sweet day. But it’s wonderful to learn from good experiences and bad ones – the bad ones are just hidden good lessons.