FASHION DESIGNERS, MEET YOUR NEW BEST FRIEND
They say all great business ideas are born out of necessity and this is where Nicole Giordano's story begins. As an independent textile designer, she found it difficult to connect with other designers and share resources to help build their business. Nicole was inspired by the growing community of indie designers who were breaking the stringent rules of the fashion business such as "seasonal deadlines, the 'right' press, minimal number of pieces per collection, celebrity endorsements." Instead, she wanted to write her own rules. Nicole says, "You know what...I learned? That the only way to be truly successful in business is to build a business around the life you want, not the other way around." And that she did, with the launch of the online community, StartUp Fashion which is a place for designers to connect and learn.
See why Nicole Giordano of StartUp Fashion is a Daring Creative.
Tell us about yourself:
I’m a traveler (30 countries and counting), a weaver (my background is in textile design), and a food person (I love to cook and am getting better at it every day). I’m a social person but I love my quiet time with a book on the couch. And I founded StartUp FASHION, an online community that helps and encourages independent designers all over the globe to build businesses that make them happy.
When did you decide to pursue your current career path?
Hmm, that’s sort of hairy because I didn’t really make a “decision” to build StartUp FASHION. I began a blog in 2010 without any real idea of what I wanted to do with it other than share what I know and hopefully inspire designers to go after their goals and dreams and maybe get a few clients for my marketing consulting business. Eventually that blog got attention and built a large readership. Then I was like, “OK, how can I really help these designers?” and so I, along with the help of a few incredible people, tested out this idea of a real online community with members and resources and guidance. That was in 2013. We really had no idea if it was going to become anything. But we are really excited to see that it has!
How did you go from idea to execution?
It all started 13 years ago when I graduated from college with a degree in textile design. I had no idea what I wanted to do but I knew what I didn’t want to do - work for someone else sitting under florescent lights, repainting floral designs.
So with absolutely zero knowledge of how to run a business, I decided I would start one.
At the time I was weaving fabric, pairing it with leather, and making women’s accessories. I had no idea what I was doing. But I was learning, fast. I continued to wait tables and bartend [sic] as I gave myself an entrepreneurial education. I failed a lot. I succeeded sometimes. But I was happy because I was doing something I really loved.
Over time I realized that I didn’t love designing as a living; weaving and sewing had lost all pleasure because I was always doing it. So I started doing fabric sourcing for big fashion brands here in NYC and also I started consulting with fashion businesses on social media and content creation. The reason for this was that I was in my twenties when facebook became a thing and knew how to use it. I had had a small design business without a big marketing budget so I taught myself content and social strategy for business growth and before long companies were asking me for help with it.
That’s when I began the StartUp FASHION blog. It was initially created as a way to share what I know with those who might find it helpful and simultaneously demonstrate my expertise. Through this, I started building up clients and put designing into the “hobby” section of my life.
A big change came when one of the companies I was consulting with asked me to move to Singapore to work more closely on the project. I jumped on that amazing opportunity and spent a year in Asia working, traveling, and thinking hard about what I wanted to do in the long term.
I enjoyed my work but I missed working with emerging and independent brands. I didn’t want to work with or for big fashion companies.
So after returning from Singapore, I decided I wanted to get more serious about StartUp FASHION and worked closely with my partner in life and work, Jim, to build something cool.
That’s when we started playing around with the membership community idea. The blog had such a large and engaged audience of independent designers, we felt ready to try this idea. I focused on the industry knowledge/content/marketing and he handled all the tech stuff like website build/SEO/UX.
Has rejection ever affected your creative process?
In the past it has made me doubt my ability to do what I do and to doubt whether I am good enough, smart enough, or experienced enough to help others build their businesses.
And rejection still tries to thwart my creativity, regularly. I have to remind myself to stop letting it happen. We all deal with rejection, particularly if we do anything that requires us to put ourselves out there and be vulnerable. If I allowed it to, rejection would keep me from trying new marketing ideas, from writing heart-felt blog posts, and from going after new sponsors. Honestly, it would stop me from running a business at all, which I believe to be the most creative thing I do at this point in my life.
What advice would you give to someone who wanted to pursue the same career as you?
Do it! I feel so fortunate to do something that allows me to make my time my own. I can think of no better situation since life goes by so quickly. Time is the most valuable of all the resources.
I think the best thing about the kind of business I built is that I can take it anywhere. I can travel and work or I can move to a new place and not miss a beat. Think about your lifestyle and build a business that complements it.
Finish this sentence:
I want people to remember me as: someone who encouraged them to do the things they didn’t think they could do.
If I only had 24 more hours to live, I would do: nothing but spend time with all the people I love while eating lots and lots of my favorite foods.
If I had to choose a theme song to represent me it would be: Pharrell Williams "Happy"
For more on StartUp Fashion visit: startupfashion.com