As a true busy-body, creative and social activist, I was never one to slump on the couch in front of the telly for hours each night. My idea of release and relaxation after a day of work, kids and chores has always been to create something. As most mothers do, I would always put the family’s collective interest in the foreground, working in a field that I was sure would put money on the table and using all saved up money for family affairs. Being a hobby artist though, meant there was nothing at stake only my ego. To be honest, I was more focused on the fun of creating than the end result, which would often result in haphazard work processes and no real consistency in what I was making. Reflecting on all that now, I understand that businesses need a lot more attention and need goals with structures and above all, a clear vision of the future.
After the birth of my third child, I made a decision to work towards building my hobby into a living, shrugging off past failures and focusing on finding markets better suited to what I have to offer. Living in Hungary for the past 8 years has not done much good for my brand’s self confidence, as my designs and style do not attract the average Hungarian customer. This I learnt through being present at local markets and soon realising that predominantly it is foreigners who appreciate my work the most. I also jumped on the etsy wagon, which has brought no success either due to my lack of skills in using the algorithms to my advantage and my location.
Not having any marketing expertise or funds to pay for coaching or services, I needed to expand my skills in business modeling.
I am still at the beginning of my fashion entrepreneur journey, building networks, learning basic marketing and IT skills and making connections through social media and attending sustainable fashion events. This decision has also finally led me to listen to the advice of others and adopt marketing trends, as well as engaging in open forums. Having a few positive experiences with other designers has boosted my confidence as a designer, no longer feeling inadequate due to my lack of training in the fashion industry.
Being an upcycler and environmental activist, my main strategies were to target audiences who share my values. Then again, my favourite designs are quite large and bold, therefore I have also come to realise I need to target people who are also avid fashion and art followers. So now I picture myself as a designer who assists in putting upcycled fashion on high street, breaking down the misconception of luxury fashion being limited to precious metals and stones. Why generate more items, when you can upcycle ones that have been discarded and others have gotten bored of?
There are still many challenges that lie ahead. As mentioned earlier, I am only at the beginning of taking this seriously. Living in Hungary is an obstacle. People are less inclined to dress boldly, stand out or even stand up for rights. Also it is a very tight-knit fashion scene, without the right connections, it is difficult to be supported by stylists, stockists. Other challenges are my lack of IT skills and time constrictions. Building anything alone or with only unpaid help is slow and tedious, so patience is a virtue.
I believe in visualization – imagine where you would like to be and pave the way towards it. Confidence is another key factor, do not undermine your creative flow and never copy- follow someone – only take inspiration and be sure to credit them.