29 March

The Growing Pains of a One-Woman Business

Stacy Igel with her book, Embracing the Calm in the Chaos

Excerpt from Embracing the Calm in the Chaos: How to Find Success in Business and Life Through Perseverance, Connection, and Collaboration by Stacy Igel

As an entrepreneur, working out of your bedroom like I did is a great way to save money in the beginning, but you also have to realize when you’ve outgrown a specific location (even if it’s not your bedroom) and allow yourself the freedom to expand so that you can continue to grow.

Thankfully, I was able to find a bigger place, though I will admit it was insane. There were racks, shelves, computers, boxes, and packing materials everywhere, but I thrive on that kind of chaos. It actually centers me as opposed to flustering me, because I feel like I can stay in control of every area of my business.

Once I had more space, I hired a second full-time employee, an accountant and bookkeeper who came in from time to time, a production assistant, and a bunch of FIT interns who received school credit. Everyone was operating out of my one-bedroom apartment, and I was overseeing all of it with the assistance of a small but solid team.

That doesn’t mean there weren’t some serious missteps on my part. When you’re trying to know it all and do it all, you’re bound to make mistakes. And that’s okay. You can’t be afraid to get things wrong sometimes; it’s the only way to learn how to do things correctly. One of the more significant mistakes I made was being too focused on perfection. I wanted our customers to be taken care of perfectly. I wanted every email to be answered perfectly. I wanted the factory to be paid perfectly. I wanted to know my inventory perfectly. And I didn’t want to disappoint anyone, in any way, which was a lofty and unrealistic goal. Starting a business can be messy. Don’t let that mess overwhelm you; instead, embrace it, and find a way to use it to your advantage. I was able to do this by accepting the failures that accompanied my accomplishments and by communicating to others how they could take some of the pressure off me.

My friend Mary Alice Stephenson, founder and CEO of GLAM4GOOD, whose team has used fashion and beauty to empower more than forty thousand women and their families, echoed this approach: “People can’t help you if they don’t know what you need. Let people know in every way, every day, how important your work is to you and how and why they can and should support you.”

The bottom line is that, while you need to know how to run every aspect of your company yourself, the knowledge and expertise you incur through experience can and should be passed along to those with whom you work so that they can assist you in moving your business forward and achieving the success you desire.

In Embracing the Calm in the Chaos, fashion designer Stacy Igel shares her journey of launching her worldwide brand BOY MEETS GIRL while powering through personal struggles. Stacy shows readers that being an overnight success is never the aim, and what matters most isn’t how long it takes to accomplish your dreams but that you never give up. Available as: