Updated: Aug 19, 2019
There has been lots of talk of people not knowing their WHY and I agree that it makes a difference to understanding your journey. I have said it before and I will say it again, but Fashion is a TOUGH business and it gets even tougher when you don't know WHY you are in this business. It can be brutally honest and unapologetic, and will leave you wondering what it is that you loved so much about the Fashion Industry that made you want to be a part of it. Your WHY will help you remain steadfast and focused on what your intentions were when you entered this business. So let's talk a little more about what your WHY is, how to find it and how to live it!
One of the best authors I have seen at various TED Talks and online videos is Simon Sinek. Google him and watch some of his amazing videos and also order his book "Find your Why", you will not be disappointed. Sinek says "The WHY is the purpose, cause or belief that drives every one of us." He believes that it is the purity behind the reasons why we choose to do the things we do. It can also help you pivot and shift into a place of success by understanding the driving force behind your own actions. I love this concept and have shared it with students in almost all of the classes I have taught. I teach them how imperative it is to not chase fame, money or clout, but to instead work towards finding fulfillment, completion meaning in the work you do. Sinek proposes that many of us know WHAT we do and also HOW we do it, but that the toughest question we find hard to answer is WHY we do it. He shows it in the graph below and talks about its relationship to human biology and how the brain works.
My WHY is what drives everything I do and has enabled me to create a life of purpose and define Success on my own terms. It has created a space for me to do work that I enjoy and the ability to do different kind of work that when added together creates a wonderful tapestry that is me genuinely and authentically. I was able to take my Talents, Skills and Expertise and marry them to the passions and things I loved in life while never having to compromise my values and who I am as a person. I was working in Corporate America at a job I was good at and garnered tremendous respect for. It was a path that was chosen for me by others who say on the surface what I could be contributing, but it was never my passion. I was in Corporate America for over 15 years before realizing that this was not my Life's dream and the legacy that I wanted to leave behind. It wasn't until I lost everything after my Divorce, that I got a wake up call that said align to your WHY and everything else will follow.
So with two young children under the age of 3, I went back to school to get my second Master's degree but this time in Fashion Design, the thing I had been most passionate about my entire life. Once I obtained my MFA in Fashion Design, I decided the time was now and left my over 6-figure a year job to start my clothing label BLACK RUSSIAN. Now hear me when I say this, it was the most difficult, scary, nauseating thing I have ever done in my entire life and almost everyone around me thought I had lost my damn mind. Here I was in my later 30's, Divorced with two young children (one of which has Autism) and starting from scratch. But I set my intentions daily and focused on all of the Talents/ skills and expertise I had already gained and used those to forge my way. I was inspired by other Women Warriors who were parents to kids with disabilities that also were also entrepreneurs. My purpose was to be there for them and show them that more that anything, I valued this time I could have with them. My WHY still drives me today and reminds me to stay steadfast and focused at the task at hand. To never stop learning and growing and to remember that everything I do is for them, my boys the reason why I was able to take this leap of Faith. See, my WHY was very simple, to provide a better life for my boys where I was active and present in every thing they did.
In addition to a better life for my sons I also have a purpose to change the way that Fashion shows us. It was imperative to me to ensure that fashion was inclusive and equitable and made us feel like we belonged at the table. My purpose is to ensure that they see us in all of our glory. Know your WHY and live your WHY in everything you do.