“Failure isn’t a necessary evil. In fact, it isn’t evil at all. It is a necessary consequence of doing something new.”
― Ed Catmull,
I started out this post with the quote by Ed Catmull for a reason. It's because I'm am engaged in a tumultuous battle with my unruly, snarling thoughts about my company and my success lately. When I started this company, my main goals were simply to create a corset that was long enough that I could wear it to Renaissance Festivals without having "muffin bottom" out of the corset (the opposite of muffin-top). It grew and morphed into a crazy passion where I truly do eat, sleep, breathe corsets. Do I want to change the world with corsets? Yeah. Obviously. Do I want to change the way women see their own bodies? Hecks yeah! That's not a hard thing to tackle, right? Do I want to reach new heights of quality as I grow and expand? You betcha. Do I want to be perfect and make everything exactly right to fit every single body without fail and never make mistakes ever in the whole entire world for one single even little bitty moment? SOOOOO much.
This is my ideal. I make crazy beautiful corsets. They sell to crazy beautiful women. I make crazy beautiful money. Everyone is happy and holds hands and skips and shimmies to Taylor Swift songs. Woot! Reality can be..uh....different. I'm woefully, horrendously, human. I get offended by the SMALLEST of things (e.g. I post a new corset made out of a fabric that made my thighs squeeze together with glee when I beheld it. I post it on facebook. The first comment is, "Wow, this is nice. If only you would have made it in a solid forest green." I'm not smart enough to say to myself, "Oh, this is awesome, people love my creations and want them in all the color!" I think, "Holy crap, I should just stop living. I will slink away and go and hold road-signs for a living, where hopefully I can't mess things up and ruin people's lives with my corsets. I fail everyone. Everyone thinks that I should just give up now. It's clear." )
Then, there's my creative brain which NEVER stops and never quiets. I keep telling myself, "No, Michelle, you've got to make things that people actually like. No odd, cephalopod shaped corsets draped in fishnet complete with little stuffed fish. No "Narwhal Inspired Corset Collections!" Women just want beautiful, functional corsets that can do a variety of things and make them feel like rock stars!" However, the CREATIVE brain EXTRUDES ideas such as the one at the top of this post. I actually made the original "vision" corset with the scalloped neckline from start to finish, and I cannot find the dang thing anywhere in my shop! I wanted REAL pictures of the corset to show you, but I just had to draw it in the end. Let's just say....it was sooo badly bad. The scalloped edge just did not lay right with my fabric, and ended up looking like blobby little arrows pointing to the nipples. I mean, if you're into that, then that's fine, but it didn't look good when I tried it on my own body, and it looked grotesque on the mannequin. Plus, I have a LOT of faith in my abilities, and so I had my husband cut whole size runs (this is about 10 sizes that we carry standard) in THREE different colors. I just sat there and looked at this pile of cut, and unsewn putrescence. *sigh* You can imagine I beat myself up heartily. DAMMIT, I should have just stayed safe. I should have just made things that I knew would work instead of letting my creative brain drive the crazy train.
Then again, I cut off the scallops, draped and shaped a large fold-over collar, and I LOVED the end result. (above) And therein lies the question. When do you let your creative brain pump out ideas, and when do you "play it safe"? Lots of movies, books, art, poetry and music isn't even APPRECIATED in the artist's LIFETIME! There is tons of art that is made, not understood, and the artist dies, having never made a cent from the art.....then lo and behold, it is discovered, immortalized, worshiped, used to inspire millions, and truly makes a difference in the world.
It's just such a complex thing. "New and Edgy" sometimes doesn't pay the bills and isn't even admired. You can't run a company on it. Companies need to understand their customer and THEIR needs, not exist to just fill their own odd endeavors. Then again, we all know companies that have gotten left behind, "stuck in a time period", outdated, and haven't changed a thing in years. I knew this wonderful crusty little old white-haired man who looked like Santa Claus after Weight Watchers, and he ran a "Piratical Goods" booth at Renaissance festivals for what seemed like eons. A fellow vendor friend said that they were talking to him one day while he was in a particularly foul mood, and he exclaimed, "I just don't get it! I've been making and bringing the same stuff for 20 years, and it's always worked just fine, BUT SUDDENLY, no one is buying!!" To people on the outside, we're like, "Seriously, bro? 20 years? It's a wonder it's worked this long! Do something new!" Yet, the artist, who is so close to his art and passion, often cannot even begin to glimpse the folly.
So, failure. How have YOU felt like you failed, and have YOU been able to see yourself and your actions in a new light? How do you feel about possible future failures? Paralyzed, unable to take an incorrect step? Energized, knowing that the "quickest way to success is to double your rate of failure!"?
Phew, heavy stuff here. If you feel so inclined, drop me a line on facebook or at email@example.com and tell me about how you move your brain through fear, into creation, and finally into "success". ;) I'm always interested.