The first half of 2018 has been a real blast! The turn of the year marked a positive turn in attitude for me. No longer was I going to approach business with the mindset of a small player, but instead I’d be open and confident about my business ambitions and walk tall in the knowledge that I have all the potential, talent and skill at my disposal to achieve them.
The catalyst for my new found train of thought was my discovery of the phenomenon of ‘Imposter syndrome’. This was introduced to me by a business coach whom I met with periodically since starting my business and someone whom I have gained a great sense of personal insight from.
Imposter syndrome is an internalised belief that our successes and accomplishments aren’t deserved or are as a result of a ‘stroke of luck’ or ‘fluke’, giving rise to hidden feelings of being an imposter or fraud. This business coach after only a few times of meeting me had uncovered my dirty little lifetime secret… I indeed had an affliction of Imposter Syndrome!
This to me was a life changing revelation. Despite the seeming self confidence that I’ve always shown and believed I had, for the first time I realised that there has always been a part of me that was scared to honestly and whole-heartedly ‘Think Big’.
Whilst for the most part Imposter syndrome hasn’t prevented me from pursuing opportunities, on reflection it has hindered my ability to progress and grow to my full potential by subconsciously imposing boundaries, barriers and glass ceilings when there were none. Deep down I harboured a belief that my achievements throughout my life were down to luck rather than ability and that someone somewhere would eventually call this Northern, small town, working class, council estate, Black lass of migrant parents and the youngest of six children out as being an imposter or fraud unworthy of achieving ‘real’ success.
When telling people about my business, I’d be sure to slip in the fact that I was a self-taught designer/seamstress who had never been to college to study fashion or design, not as a badge of honour but just in case they spotted that I couldn’t reel off a list of top fashion designers or name a specific sewing technique. It somehow seemed less important that I told them that I’d been sewing and creating practically since birth and that sewing machine oil smelt like perfume to me and the hum of the machine like music. I neglected to tell them that I won my first design award when I was just 16 and spent most of my life daydreaming about fabric and the wonderful things I could create from it… all I was focussed on was hiding self-imposed ideals I felt I didn’t live up to when the truth was that all anyone cared to see was passion, talent, drive and perseverance.
Two years ago I started on this business journey because a friend of mine was organising a fashion show and needed some local designers to exhibit their work. I had recently started creating these quirky little neck pieces for myself so as a challenge I decided to create a twenty piece collection for the show – this was no fluke. I realised early on that my ideas were ‘too big’ to remain a hobby – this was no fluke. I started a brand way before it had even occurred to me that that was what I was doing – this was no fluke. I’ve met and connected with new people from all walks of life and made some amazing new friends – this is no fluke. I’ve sought out places to sell my products and have sold pieces to customers from all over the globe – this has been no fluke. I’ve been nominated for and won an award which is set to open new doors for me – this is no fluke. I manage to negotiate and deal with all the challenges of everyday life and still find the time to steadily grow my business – this is no fluke. I’ve created everything I have achieved for my business so far from an investment of just £60 – I have to believe that me getting this far on such a small budget is by no means a fluke but as a result of my ability, resourcefulness, hard work and determination.
I understand now that Urbanized Neckwear is my call to release myself from mediocrity; my attempt to reach my full potential and stand out in my own unique way. I take comfort from knowing that I have a bona fide affliction which is secretly shared by many and task myself with facing and dealing with it head on.
Shedding Imposter Syndrome is my work in progress but my awareness of and willingness to be open about it has freed me of the shame I’ve unknowingly carried with me for so long. I no longer lug around the dark heavy weight of my dirty little secret but instead I hold a lighter, brighter new found confidence and growing sense of inner belief that I am enough, I was born enough and I have everything within my grasp to achieve success and make my unique mark within the world of fashion.