Exactly one year ago today I launched Lila Jean Vintage Magazine. In front of a small gathering of friends and fellow vintage lovers I professed my hopes as I gave up my nine to five in pursuit of a dream. Initially the dream was simple – to produce a high quality Australian vintage publication that incorporated fashion with nostalgia and social history, to take vintage back to the people who experienced it first, to produce a magazine that spoke to all those vintage lovers out there who weren’t quite pin-up and not quite rockabilly – something I felt hadn’t been done before. As the magazine progressed it began to take on a life of its own. I was finding that my audience wasn’t just the younger generation discovering vintage as I had, but included the older generation whose stories the magazine sought to highlight. I never could have imagined the happiness seeing their stories in print would bring them or, in turn, how happy it would make me. When seeking out stories for the magazine the most common thing I heard was ‘Why would anyone be interested in my story?’ and the answer was never simple. Because it shows us how much society has changed, because it’s living history, because it’s real. Perhaps the most valuable lesson I learnt was that everybody has a story, you just have to make the time to hear it.
A year on the dream may have altered slightly but it is still there burning bright. You can read about the future of Lila Jean Vintage here.
The last year was my first crack at running my own business and it wasn’t easy. In fact, it was pretty bloody hard. Although I did meet some amazing people along the way, one of them being Margeaux, owner of The Distinctive Dame in Melbourne. We recently caught up in Sydney and lamented on the challenges of running your own business and we both spoke passionately about wanting to do something worthwhile and help people, neither of us really sure the best way how. Afterwards I thought about all the women entrepreneurs and business women who inspired me over the last year, one of them being Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post. In an interview with Amanda de Cadenet she said that it is the fear of failure that stops women more than anything and that failure is not the opposite of success, it is a stepping stone to success. She insists there is no one who hasn’t failed along the way and it’s important for young women especially to recognise that because if all they see are successful people it’s incredibly overwhelming. She mentions the importance of talking about the times you have failed and this really resonated with me.
A year ago when I launched Lila Jean Vintage it was never my intention to move completely online. I, perhaps stubbornly, wanted to produce a print magazine because I wanted something tangible and I felt it would be better received by the audience I was aiming it at. In hindsight, I made a lot of mistakes along the way that effected the overall sales of the magazine. While it is perhaps uncomfortable to discuss where I felt I failed, ultimately I feel this insight is valuable for anyone else thinking about setting up a business – I know I would have liked to have heard more about where people went wrong before I jumped in – but as a society we are so concerned about other peoples perceptions of us that we refuse to admit that we’re human, we make mistakes, and sometimes those errors in judgement effect our business. Despite the path the magazine has taken I’m proud of what I’ve achieved. I produced four beautiful publications that many people have told me they have re-read more than once and intend to hold on to. I took a chance on something I believed in, and still believe in, and discovered things about myself I never knew before (some good, some not so good). I may have failed but I’m not a failure.
So going back to my conversation with Margeaux, one way in which I thought I could help and empower women in business was to put together an interview series where I speak with female entrepreneurs who work in the vintage field but instead of focusing on their success, I want them to discuss their mistakes – how they overcame it and what they learnt from it. I want us to talk about the challenges they face and advice they would have for any budding business owners. These interviews will be showcased here on the blog and will commence in 2016 with the first interview being with myself (bit strange, I know!). My hope is that from these interviews anyone looking to launch a business can learn from my mistakes and the mistakes of others and we can get rid of the negative stigma that surrounds discussing where we failed.
Header image © Aimee Stoddart and should not be reproduced without permission.