I recently had a conversation with my father discussing my journey with Ustyled and some of the mistakes that I made along the way. The benefit of having a father like mine (a CEO) aside from the fact that we can totally nerd out on leadership and personal development together, is that I get a built-in chairman of the board.
The comment that he made that really stuck out was “as long as your wins outnumber your learning.”
This really hit me. It’s so easy to get stuck in the minutiae of what we’re doing and get stuck in the lessons without celebrating the wins.
To be sure, in my naïveté and in my fear, I made decisions and most certainly learned. Conversely, in my confidence and clarity, and I’ve won.
Launching Ustyled in 2008 at 25, I was confident in my business experience and talent as well as my innate skill at understanding who someone is and how they want to show up and translating that into their evolved style. Additionally, I love to write and am told that I’m a good writer and I’m really good at math.
But building a business takes a lot more than just talent and smarts. It takes persistence, REVENUE (aka sales, not just marketing), it takes digging deep into your fears and overcoming them by doing what you’re afraid to do anyway (because you know it’s what you have to do), it takes ignoring what others are doing to instead trust what YOU are doing, it takes asking for help or investing in coaching to move through to the next level, it takes being uncomfortable most of the time.
It takes a willingness to learn — a LOT. For you to be able to lose the ego and look for the lesson in a perceived ‘failure’ or ‘bad decision.’
But in the learning, you then get the experience that helps you to make better decisions.
In 2011, I spent the last 6 months contemplating the question ‘how do I help women see the value in investing in personal shopping?’
Though I’d been at it for 3 years by then, Ustyled wasn’t yet sustaining me. In fact, it was still very up and down. (Real talk: I had a great PT job while I found my way and honed my sales + marketing skills.)
Additionally, I was frustrated by clients still making mistakes when shopping on their own because they didn’t want to spend the money on the extra support. So, how could I make it easier to say YES to that support?
Lesson: If the business isn’t sustainable, where am I not providing enough value?
WIN: Launching Boutique Box in March of 2012 with the most successful soft launch we’d ever had!
I had more lessons to learn with that launch as we fulfilled our first Boutique Boxes and some of them weren’t as successful as I would have liked. I refunded one client because we weren’t able to find anything that worked. That had never happened to me. But, I’d also never worked with her before. So, I had to build into our model a way to ensure that I knew each client well.
With that, I also realized that I couldn’t carry the kind of inventory that I wanted for our diverse clientele (in style, body, age, etc.) going the wholesale route. So, I quickly shifted the model so I wouldn’t have to carry inventory at all (and could better benefit emerging designers — win-win!).
The BIG WIN? Boutique Box literally transformed my business, doubling it within the first year and making it finally sustainable.
Until you have another big lesson — because that’s life.
The bigger lessons, they’re the ones that get you to pivot so you can grow even more effectively. Or, they get you to finally let go of that thing that just doesn’t excite you anymore. Maybe that thing that was supposed to get you to here, but that was all it was — for a season, not a lifetime.
My intention was always to build a business that would change the way women shop and change the Fashion Industry from within. I’ll be honest that I haven’t felt that I’ve been doing that effectively, in spite of my efforts and investments to grow and scale Ustyled + Boutique Box with the current model.
As I’ve been contemplating where we’re at now, I’ve been asking myself the question ‘How do I help women see the value in investing in their personal style?’
This is why you’ve seen me talking about IMPACT lately.
The whole point of Ustyled is IMPACT. How do we make a bigger impact and how do we help YOU make a big impact?
So, while I’ll be unveiling more details on what’s next for myself and Ustyled in the coming weeks, I’m counting my wins and my learns that got me to here and will carry me forward. So far, the wins far outweigh the learns, but I look forward to what unfolds in both categories down the road.
Catherine has shared Leadership Style Power™ with the women of Facebook, TD Bank, Women in Government Relations, Step Up Women’s Network, APCO Worldwide … and more. Email us today to have Catherine speak to your women.