I have always wondered why people no matter how hard they try are just not successful in life, let alone in a specialized career in fashion and style from Africa. No matter who you are or where you come from, success is yours, but you will need to do three things to set yourself apart from the others. I am only focusing on three, although I believe that success is a journey that never stops until you take your last breath. Even at that, and depending on your situation, you can still succeed to live, if you follow these three simple principles. Ever task you take on with African fashion, has the power to jolt you down to your knees, but these three simple principles will allow you to rise back up no matter how many times you fall. So what are they:
- Embrace Failure: Yes, Failure. You will fail on your journey to being the most successful you will ever be with your African Fashion brand and that’s okay. In 2016, I intend to take a leap of faith with my African fashion brand and I am so positioned and ready for failure you have no idea. In fact I look forward to learning and understanding why I will fail and what I can do to address my failures. It is inevitable with life in general that we will fail as we work towards success. I have always allowed myself to fail in everything and for some reason, it allows me to bounce back always without feeling sorry for myself. I do it all the time in my career as university professor. I cannot tell you how many times I have failed as a grant writer, a teacher, a mentor, even as an author of peer-reviewed publications. It’s all part of the tenure-track process. I want to believe that only those who allow themselves to fail and learn from it make it to the top. So if you are going to launch any African fashion brand or if you already have a brand and you have no idea what to make of it. it’s okay. Just expect failure and know that it’s all part of the process. Nobody accomplishes anything great if he or she is afraid to fail. You can’t avoid the failures. It comes whether you want it or not. But I believe that failures are the gifts from a higher being that forces us to change directions as we step right or left towards the direction we are suppose to take. Don’t fight failures. Instead, let them help you guide your footing in your journey with African fashion.
2. Be Resilient: Resilient is defined as the capacity to recover quickly from an adversity. The fragility of African fashion industry has never been of greater interest or importance-than at this moment-in the aftermath of calls for a sustainable development for all in the years to come as proposed by the United Nations. Being resilient with African fashion is a process where by you as a designer, me as a fashion writer, other institutions and everyone in general, prepare for and effectively respond to the struggles everyone working in African fashion goes through; how we maintain core functions or principles that will allow us to support each other when these adversities arise; the lessons we learn during the adversities; and finally how we reorganize ourselves following the adversity. This is the classic everyday understanding of resilience in a society that has functioning institutions that would allow African fashion entities to flourish. However, it will not be the reality for many African fashion entities and honestly that’s okay. If you are going to embrace failure as I suggested earlier, you should also be prepared to become resilient. Failure and Resiliency go hand in hand. You cannot expect to fail and not figure out how to get back up again. As you walk into embracing failure, what will set you apart from the rest, is how quickly you bounce back up. Resilience will allow you to control even the failures you experience. It’s a blessing to be able to survive your failures, to keep moving forward even when everything or all hope is lost. Resiliency is the greatest teacher and hope for what lies ahead no matter how many times you fall. It’s okay, get back up again!
3. Express gratitude: To be successful in African fashion means working with people to realize your dreams or vision with your brand. Sometimes we get so focused on the journey that we lose sight of being grateful for simply having people around to help you with your vision. Appreciating whatever shows up in your life is key to successful brand. You radiate and generate more goodness to yourself and your brand whenever you express gratitude to the people working hard to help you succeed. Being gracious all the time will not be easy. Even as you embrace failure or become resilient, know that gratitude can help you transform any situation around. Whatever you are going through with you brand, you will do just that, pass through the storm. But being grateful even in the storm, allows you to put things in perspective a lot faster. I know that the orders are not coming fast enough. No worries, thank the sales people for doing their best to smile always to every customer that passes by your brand. I know that you are running a negative balance on your spreadsheet. It’s okay too, be thankful that you even have a spreadsheet to begin with. Give thanks for small things and even things that you cannot control and watch your bounty increase.
These three principles may not seem like much to you now and that’s okay. Simply put them to work and see if your performance will not change. As I head into 2016, I know that I will work hard to embrace all the failures that 2015 offered and I look forward to discovering and learning from my year of failure in 2016. With that, I am also prepared to be resilient. You have to be if you want to be successful in African fashion. How I bounce back will also be cataloged in 2016 so that it can be a source of inspiration for people trying to figure themselves out as well. To take my dreams and vision to new levels will also involve working with different people and I look forward to expressing my gratitude to them now and always. 2016 will be a glorious journey God willing and I hope this time next year I will be back to share how I embraced my failures, became resilient and expressed gratitude as as make my mark in African Fashion.