Have you ever had a lightbulb moment that has dramatically changed the course of your life?
I have. Although when I retell this story it may not seem dramatic to the reader. However, as I reflect it definitely shaped the type of business I would create and the type of lifestyle I wanted to live.
I was a month into my new job as a Product Developer for a leading surf brand and if I am honest, I had no clue what I was doing most days. As an organised person, I was struggling to filter through the hundreds of emails from manufacturers, keep up with all the sampling, and understanding which spec sheets were with each collection. I felt embarrassed. Like I was the new kid at school, underdressed and hiding in the bathroom to escape my sense of loneliness, on top of all the stress (no, this actually happened). It was my escape, so no one could see me cry, lose my shit, or wonder what I was doing here.
It honestly felt like a new world after leaving Grace Loves Lace. Especially when I would walk into the pattern-making office and not see a single sewing machine.
Even though my anxiety was through the roof every day as I drove to work (literally, I would pray for car troubles just so I would have a reason not to go into the office) It wasn't until we had a production meeting that I knew I was in the wrong job. I wheeled the collection into the room and sat down with my notepad and pencil, as everyone else opened up their laptops. I held up the first t-shirt to revise. It was cherry red and had the company logo embroidered on the pocket.
I was expecting the conversation to be 100% design focused, but the first question asked was "how much does this shirt cost to make?". As the conversation kicked on, it became obvious that money was more important than design. Shortly after this meeting the bulk order of shirts (which I understood was ready to launch in store) was sent back to the factory with revisions for design.
You may think, why I would take this job if I have always been striving to have a sustainable company? The answer was simple, I was naive and ambitious for a job title, because I believed it was important. I thought having that title would make me feel like a success. I was more excited to tell people about the job than actually go into work and do the job.
This three-month stint was my moment of clarity. It gave me strength and confidence to back myself and create goals that sit outside my comfort zone. It made me realise that success is not a job title, and I was chasing this bucket list of things to achieve that would never truly make me happy.
I don't want to design to make the world pretty, I want to design and help make the world more sustainable.