The question I have received the most from young women about my journey so far is where I studied Fashion Design. I have touched on this briefly - but let me elaborate...
I think now more than ever committing to a 2,3,4 year degree in a field you want to work is not always the only or best way to land a job in that field. As I discovered all too soon studying journalism at University was what you study VS what you do in a job are two different things.
Once it became clear that I was never going to be a Samantha Jones of the publicity world because I couldn't get through a journalism lecture without wanting to poke my eye out I thought I wanted to be a real estate agent...pause for effect.
I think I would have made a great real estate agent but thank the heavens the idea of studying for additional years to get an agent certification made me want to vomit so I didn't do that either.
So I focused my energies toward communications and advertising landing as many Internships as possible whilst still at University which landed me full time employment in Fashion PR. I will say no more about Fashion PR than - yuck.
So I climbed the corporate ladder in the advertising world. I pushed for more responsibility, smashed out my work and climbed my way up to a management role in digital web development. [Insert confused face here] I know, me too.
I jumped from role to role, hoping that something would change; maybe more money would make the work more satisfying, perhaps a new team would ignite something in my belly or more responsibility? It actually just made things worse - putting so much emphasis on the new dangling carrot which at the end of every day was so god damn disappointing.
I started to see psychologists, my body was physically repulsed by working in an industry I couldn't care for. I took stress leave twice in one year and the final straw was a break down in front of my team which left me bed ridden for two weeks.
If one of my friends was explaining this scenario to me - I would have said “You are a looney and you need to resign right this minute” but at the time I was all foggy and felt I didn't have another option. I had invested all this time in getting to where I was...job security is important, I need to pay rent, I’m 27 I can’t change my career now [ha!] So I started sewing again, creating and designing every minute I could (when I wasn't at work or when I wasn't crying).
I started sharing my designs on my Instagram page and people were picking up what I was putting down! I was at Spotlight every single weekend sourcing fabric for customers that had ordered designs through my Instagram page. Before long I had enough orders that kept me sewing 7 days a week.
For a while there I considered resigning and attending the White House Institute of Design for 3 years and a few thousand dollars. Several students from Whitehouse have gone on to create fashion labels that are globally recognised so I thought that was a pretty good place to start.
But I already knew how to sew, I could sketch a design close enough to the real thing, I was drafting my patterns based on clothing I already had in my wardrobe and anything I didn't know I taught myself on YouTube - yep, YouTube - with an already established audience I could save the years and money I would have spent on a degree and I could just go out there and do it.
So I did.
Starting a business is expensive - about 3 times more expensive than I had estimated. So I walked dogs, I taught spin classes, I’ve done commercial extra work and temp roles - I have done what I have needed to do to keep the business moving forward without rather than throwing in the towel when we haven't been able to pay rent.
When I explain to people the journey of how MBM was born, I sometimes sense they are disappointed - that there’s not this distinct path that you can hitch a ride on and it will somehow land you in the job you desire.
Like with anything you study at University - you really don’t know what you know until you’re on the job. Try things, experiment, talk to people! The biggest tool that has helped me grow my business quickly has been the ability to network and communicate with people; “Best known always beats best product”.
It may not be the answer some people are looking for I hope it can inspire those that are stuck in a 9-5 that doesn’t spark them joy that you do have an option and if the fire is burning strong enough - you can burn down those walls that are stopping you from pursuing the best version of you.
"If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place"
- Stephen Covey