I recently went for an interview at a Fashion recruitment office over here in Orange County. After having shown my portfolio, and gone over my CV (or resume as they call it here) I felt the need to explain something that I hadn't mentioned on there. I hadn't mentioned that I had set up my own Childrens brand a year ago, and was in fact still currently working on it. Towards the end of last year I finally braved updated my Linked In profile! I know that may sound silly. A part of me felt I might be shunned, and would never be able to work for a Fashion Brand ever again if they knew I had my own business. The Fashion world can be a fickle place!
So, for whatever reason I have not yet added Muklet to my CV. I think I also feared my potential employers would take me less seriously. They might assume my focus and energy would not be fully invested in their company if I came to work for them. This is of course not the case. If I come to work for you, you get the full Laura package - overactive caffeinated brain 'n' all!
In fact a number of my peers in the small business world run their businesses alongside Consultancy or Freelance work. The beauty of owning your own business is you get to control how much or little you work on it. It can flex around your other commitments like work or family.
Jude Turner runs an online retro gift shop Jessie Jumbles. She says "I started off selling vintage alongside crafts and was asked by several people including the antique shop I worked in to run their pages."
Morgana Loze-Doyle who runs the online store Little and Fierce says "I guess you could say I’ve got a portfolio career where I’ve got a few businesses that make up full time work (and then some!). I write my lifestyle blog over at coffeeworksleeprepeat.com and I own an kids accessories and gifts online store Little and Fierce. Later this year I’m also branching out into social media management utilising all the skills and experience I’ve gained over the past 6 years running online businesses. I fit all these around my two school age children so at the moment I’m still able to do the school runs and be around for most of the holidays. It’s a juggle and a challenge but so much fun."
Sarah Sibley from Got to Jot says "I've been working freelance for a large retailer in marketing for 3 years alongside my stationery business, but last year bit the bullet and gave up the freelance to focus on my business"
This wasn't the first opportunity I've explored since landing in California. In fact just a few weeks after I arrived I got a call about a company that was open to meeting with 'Senior talent' for 'exploratory conversations' - yup, if there's a free coffee on offer I'm always up for a chat! The opportunity was actually related to a business that was born out of a blog. Well, guess what?! I know blogs! I understand social media. I may only currently have a crumb of a following compared to the likes of scruffy haired man child Cameron Dallas, but I've spent the last year learning, networking, and collaborating in this sphere - I get it.
So, I wrote an introduction about myself to forward to this company. I mentioned some of my achievements and learnings from this foray into the entrepreneurial world. I explained the unique skills I could bring to the table, and the connections with the blogging world in the UK.
Back at the Recruitment office I decided to confess my deep dark secret of (deep gasp) owning my little brand called Muklet! I explained that I felt the Fashion and Retail market had changed massively in recent years. I felt Brands especially have had to re-think how they build their brand DNA, and 'tell their story'. Promoting a Brand is no longer in the hands of the PR agency and the Marketing department. Potentially everyone that works for that company could be an ambassador, story teller or marketer of that Company.
And, I haven't just gained social media skills. I now understand every aspect in setting up, running and sustaining a business. How much better equipped am I now to sit on a board of Directors, manage a team or design a clothing range knowing the costs, the production issues, how to price it, market it, research and understand the customer, identify, solve and overcome business challenges? Of course I knew a lot about this stuff before, but now I have a whole new level of understanding. A first hand experience of everything that goes into running and growing a business.
Customers are also now shopping, researching, and engaging with Brands differently. 17 years ago I would sit at work thumbing through Vogue and Dazed & Confused magazine (defiantly showing my age now!) post it marking the images and trends that inspired my designs. Now-a-days Instagram, Pinterest, Bloggers, Vloggers, live Facebookers, social networking tribes and so much more are my stomping ground for observing the emerging trends.
I don't think I would have ever learned these skills in the full time jobs I held in the past. In fact I don't ever remember in all those 17 years being sent on a training course for anything. I remember a few away day training sessions involving donuts and a story about an elephant and a giraffe, but that's about it!
Over Christmas I had an interesting conversation with one of my old New York colleagues. Having worked for big brands all her career she said she'd even noticed a change in the retail landscape. Small unique brands and businesses were the future in her opinion. So, if that's the case who better to come and work with you than someone who understands that small business world first hand?
Even the Trend companies are talking about how us 'Direct to Consumer brands are taking over, and how the big guys need to sit up and take notice, read the article here.
My reality is that it will take time to get to a point where I can take an income from Muklet. Any money I make goes straight back into the business. Mean time I do unfortunately still need to (yawn) pay bills and help put a roof over our head. There's also another side of me that's just not quite ready to fully retire from the Fashion world. And I'm a bit of an ambitious over caffeinated workaholic. I kinda want to do it all, because I truly love it all... just not the 14 hour work day, and office politics bit! But, something tells me they're a bit more mellow over here in California - the sun slows everyone down a bit, and makes them a bit more smiley!
You may be wondering what happened with the blogging job and the recruiter? Well, there's no word yet. And as for the CV? Well, I'm working on adding Muklet...just figuring out how I'd write my own reference...or maybe I just did?!