Launching a business during a pandemic might sound stupid to some, brave to others. To me, it was something I had to do.
Here’s the story of how I launched in the pandemic and why if you have a dream, you should go for it too
In my role as an editor, I had always stuck to my own sense of style, marrying corporate convention with authenticity.
I would always get comments like ‘wow, she’s wearing leopard print heels!’ or about my penchant for sequins.
Far from seeing my style as detrimental to my career, it’s actually been hugely helpful. I set out to prove that just because I’m wearing a vintage floral trench coat doesn’t mean I won’t stand my ground!
Being a woman in a big job is hard. Society holds women to a harsher standard than men. We can’t make any mistakes. We must carefully walk the tightrope between fair and stern. We’re expected to carry the emotional load at home. We get labelled ‘emotional’ when we are calmly making a point. We get mistaken for the secretary when we’re the boss. YES, these things are still happening in 2021 (or they would be, if we were in a physical office).
And when you’re a woman in a big job, ‘what to wear’ can be a sartorial nightmare. The tendency might be to dress in a more masculine style than we would naturally gravitate towards. So in my business, The Style Editor, I set out to help women step unapologetically into who they are and not a conventional, outdated view of who they ought to be.
And on that note, 2020 gave many of us the chance to question another convention – the way we work.
Yes, lots about the last year has been dreadful. But if it hadn’t happened, I wonder where I’d be today? Burned out? Cynical? It gave me the chance to get off the hamster wheel and evaluate what I wanted from life.
And now I help other women step into their confidence and build careers and businesses on their terms.
How it started
I started sharing my outfits on Instagram in 2018 and after a while, I began getting messages from women in corporate who wanted help with the delicate balance between business and personality.
Some needed advice on what to wear to an important meeting – others would just want to know which jacket went with which skirt. Some wanted to know where they could find a particular style of shoe, or which shape of jacket would suit them best.
I have always loved style and fashion and dressing up. Finding one-off or vintage pieces gives me such a buzz and I love mixing patterns and colours.
I had met a stylist around the time I launched my Instagram – and she had told me she thought I had a talent for styling. I was super busy on the news and editing side of my job and I lacked the confidence to go for it.
But working in news was becoming exhausting; efficiencies, constant abuse and threats from the public and being unable to switch-off was draining me of my personality and I started to see the world in a really negative light.
This wasn’t who I was. I’m a positive person, conversations with women nourish my soul. But I didn’t have the time or energy for it. My friendships were being neglected and I was having to constantly turn down invitations as I’d be at a desk until the early hours.
When my stress-induced psoriasis got into my eyes and caused an infection last spring, I knew something had to give.
There was one weekend – after something like a 40-day stint of working – that I could not get out of bed. And when my husband eventually managed to coax me down the stairs, I couldn’t stop crying.
After years of people who cared about me telling me it was going to happen, it did – I had hit burnout.
Far from being a buzzword for ‘snowflake’ millennials, burnout is a recognised condition. It describes emotional, physical and mental exhaustion brought on by prolonged stress.
According to a 2019 study, 95% of HR executives say burnout is sabotaging workplace retention.
And during the pandemic, when work has become home and school – and the news is stressful to absorb – I can only imagine the problem has got worse.
So when I hit peak burnout, during Lockdown 1, I did something I should have done a while ago. I bet on myself. I picked up the phone and called that stylist.
Shift your mindset, change your life
I took my personal styling qualification, got some mindset coaching, implemented a solid wellbeing routine and launched my business.
And I haven’t looked back.
Now I help other incredible women step into their best selves and it fills my heart with joy.
If you’re thinking of starting a business right now, a lot of people will rush to tell you what a big mistake it is. Not a good time, they’ll tell you.
But when they say ‘it’s impossible’, what they mean is, it’s impossible for them.
Doesn’t mean it’s impossible for you.
So many people approach goals from a place of scarcity. There are already people doing it, I don’t have the resources, I’m rubbish….
- Yes there are people doing it. Some fabulous people. But it doesn’t mean you can’t do it to. What’s unique about your service, is you. People will want to work with you because you are you. And to that extent, someone else’s customer could never be yours. And someone else is not your competition
- Starting up doesn’t actually cost very much – think about it… you have the internet!! The greatest resource of information and tools you could need! There are lots of podcasts, YouTube videos, webinars… there are workbooks and templates. Depending on what you’re offering, you might not even need a website. Start by researching where your ideal customer is and focus on speaking to them
- You aren’t rubbish. Self-doubt is a natural emotion – it’s our way of protecting ourselves from danger or failure. But you can’t let yourself give up on your dream. And you can’t get to where you want to be without that first step. And if it flops? Then it flops! Some of the greatest entrepreneurs failed too… until they weren’t. Think of all the lessons you’ll learn that you can implement for next time. The ONLY way you fail is if you never try
It can be daunting putting yourself out there – standing in your truth and saying ‘this is who I am and this is what I do now.’
But your authenticity is needed in this world. By chasing our dreams unapologetically, we can make space for other women to do the same.
Yes, the pandemic has impacted us all negatively in some way. And it has also served to remind us that life is short, nothing is guaranteed and you have to make every day count.
And so if you’re reading this and you have a dream, I hope this gives you the encouragement to go for it.
I can’t wait to see you shine.