My Business Failures - Part 1 (Start to Launch)
MEW Clothing started with me (mew) and an Elna overlocker in my kitchen sewing until 5am every night for weeks on end trying to put together five collections. I had a goal, to complete five collections and launch. I want to be honest about my business venture because I feel like it is hard to find this information online. People only seem to talk about it when they have made it, and it makes that jump from starting to being successful feel impossible. It shouldn’t be so hard. So here is an honest account of my business venture and what I have learnt so far.
I launched MEW Clothing in August 2020. My original plan was to make all the clothes myself. Before launching I created five collections, took photographs to showcase them, and put them on my website. Then I waited. I never got a single order through my website. I did get some DM orders via Instagram - mainly friends and family wanting to support me. I quickly learnt this was never going to work the way it was set up. I would never be able to grow my business making the clothes myself, and I realised I didn’t want to - the truth is I fucking hate sewing. I love designing. So after much research, I decided to have someone else make the clothes for me. The first things I learnt were:
- Marketing is important. You could have the greatest product in the world, but if the world never sees it, it will never sell.
- Be clear about your business plan. If I had thought this out properly beforehand, I could have invested my time and energy in a smarter way instead of going pedal to the metal in the wrong direction. But I had to do that to learn, so no regrets. This same lesson popped up many times - I spent weeks making about 30-40 tech packs before realising there was no way I’d be even able to afford getting all those clothes made. I only needed about five.
It was also around this time that I burnt out. All those nights sewing in a rush caught up.
While I burnt myself out, I also burnt out some of the closest people around me. I was asking for more than they wanted to give and justified it with the mentality that I would pay them back eventually when I ‘made it’. This isn’t the way to go about it. An important lesson I learnt here was:
- Water your roots.
Take care of yourself and others around you, and do everything right the first time. Water your roots to grow your own grass green, instead of using up your resources trying to launch into a future place or scenario where the grass is greener. Here’s a secret - that place doesn’t exist. Your backyard does. So focus on that. That’s part of the reason I do these blog posts - to try and help.
Something else I learnt quickly is to be flexible. If you have tunnel vision on a certain project, you’re going to make it hard for yourself to achieve it. Charles Darwin said adaptation is what gives a species the highest chance of surviving, and I think this applies to everything. The manufacturer doesn’t have that colour? Change it. This person won't be available when you need them? Go to someone else. Having a fixed idea will fuck you up, and you may even realise that the new adaptation is better than the original anyway. The journey isn’t going to go the way you think it will. It isn’t linear. Sometimes you will go backwards, and then make a hook turn right. The road will pave as you walk it. Just have faith, and follow your intuition. You will make the wrong move sometimes, but you don’t know until you try. Keep centered on your mission. And this is another thing that I’ve realised is important to me. Making sure all my business choices align from the heart. There are so many temptations that can pull you off this path, many which are justifiable because they are so accepted in the business world. For example, I could make my clothing unsustainable like most clothing, or I could justify making my prices much higher than they are. But I want to change the textile industry standards, and I make my clothing affordable. While the allure of more money is tempting, it’s about inclusivity and spreading the message. I want MEW to mean something to people. Reflect people and be respected by people. If I lose this, I will lose motivation and purpose.
- Be flexible with your business plan
- Keep your choices aligned with your heart.
I haven't yet accomplished much, but I have stared, so I hope this information can help someone else. I am about to launch properly and invest in marketing to help this, so this next chapter will be exciting. Starting your own business brings lots of disappointment. It’s trial and error, so you have to be tough. You can’t cry at the first fail. But it is rewarding. And if you have that spark, that calling inside of you telling you to do this, you’re a winner. I believe when you follow your heart there’s really no such thing as failure, for every step takes you closer. That’s all you need. And the more flexible you are, the more you’ll eventually see your failures were blessings.