Something about my business doesn’t feel right.
This is the thought that’s been bouncing around my head since the beginning of the year. I was chalking it up to imposter syndrome and telling myself I just needed to adjust to being a business owner. But something still felt off, in the way it does when you can kind of sense where your life is supposed to be off to the left in a hazy way, but you’re not standing in front of it. Out of sync, so to say.
I had a breakdown a while back after working through some of this with my therapist (a positive and much needed breakdown, to be sure), and I’ve been sitting on these thoughts for the past few weeks. The internet is weird and you don’t owe anyone your story and your private thoughts, but I tend to be an open book and it feels wrong to carry all this around without sharing. So, here we are.
At the start of 2019, success in business was, to me, purely understood in financial terms. The aforementioned breakdown commenced when I realized in order to scale up this fast, I would have to make a lot of compromises. I know a lot about fashion and clothing and style, and there really isn’t a “fashion problem” I can’t help with.
What really gets me going, however, is naming and untangling the relationship between fashion and diet culture. That’s the work born of my own experience, and it’s work I’ll continue for the rest of my life, long after “body positivity” is no longer a trendy bandwagon companies jump on to sell us soap. It’s deeply personal work, and if it’s not really fucking radical work then what is the point?
Not only will I not compromise on this, I literally don’t think I can: this work is so close to my self that I think any kind of compromise would be a compromise of who I am.
So I did a 180 and decided to pick up more part-time work so “my work” could remain completely separate from my financial stability. So far, this has been fucking awesome. I’m still accepting clients and making money from fashion and body “stuff,” but I don’t have to in order to pay my bills and feed myself.
This is allowing me to be as creative as possible, and it feels so good. I know plenty of folks who are able to make money from their art, and it’s not off the table for me. But at this season in my life, I want no restrictions on what I create, and no pressure if I want to take weeks off from social media or avoid my inbox or any other irresponsible business owner shit.
I’ve also been thinking a lot about my role in all this and how I see myself. I think of my body of work (especially on social media) as one part education, one part inspiration. I want to name the harmful ways in which diet culture and fashion are intertwined, and I want to show people that there is a life beyond fashion “rules” and flattering and all that bullshit.
I like the idea of “educator.” Speaking and writing and giving presentations and all of that kind of related jazz feels right. I’ve always liked the idea of scaling up my styling work to one day be in some kind of course format, but I’m less interested in helping individuals than I am in screaming “fuck you” at the system.
By that I don’t mean that I don’t care about folks getting dressed/struggling with their body shit on an individual level. However, I think the fastest way to help all of us get dressed free of this bullshit is to educate on a larger scale, as opposed to working with people one on one.
As I look forward, this direction feels right. And it hasn’t been feeling right so that shift is important. I’m also trying to figure out the best way to bring in more mental health advocacy to my work. If you don’t know this about me, I’m mentally ill as all get-out (which means I have a bunch of mental illnesses, many of which are life-threatening), and I’ve been wanting more of that in my work.
I don’t know how, yet. And I’ve been examining my motivations here, as sometimes I wonder why I feel such a desperate need to share very personal and scary information with literally everyone I meet. Is this just my ego, wanting some kind of validation/recognition from others? The way I’ve always thought about it is that I wouldn’t be here without the folks who have come before me and shared their experiences with all this dark and scary shit, and I want to play that forward.
I often think of my mind—not my physical brain but my collective thoughts—as a ball of tangled yarn. I think about gathering it in my hands and throwing it out into a space where I have room to work, room to let the yarn spread out and for me to work through the tangles. It’s crucial for me, in my creative process, to be able to pick up any thread I want and follow it and see where it goes, and then abandon it just as quickly. Clarity comes from engagement, and I need to room to engage fully, without any constraints on what that engagement reveals to me.
So I can’t say for sure what will be different about how my work appears to you here: it will likely shift a bit, but maybe it won’t. I don’t know. And I couldn’t be happier with not knowing and letting whatever unfolds unfold. To everyone who has followed and supported my work thus far, thank you: I read and save every kind message I get.
To more work and building better futures—