I have a friend. His speaking voice is subtle, his karaoke voice is powerful, his writing voice is what I call ‘wise snark’.
He proposed an idea, an offer. It was not completely in line with what I do, but it was still related and it sounded interesting and I knew I’d be working with a good person so I chewed on the idea. I did the dishes and chewed. I thought about all my fingers in all these pies and chewed. And then as politely as I was able, I declined, I was afraid of spreading myself too thin.
He wrote me this email:
“…the notion of preserving creative “thickness” is one of those things successful people do. See, they like to focus/conserve their energies whenever possible. The ones who spread themselves thin are generally self-promoting hustlers, says me.”
His words have been rattling around in my brain for the past couple of weeks. His words have become my new motto. Preserve Your Thickness.
Ambitious people like myself are never satisfied with what they’ve achieved. In their efforts to do/know/be out there/accomplish more, they try to do/know/accomplish everything and be everywhere, taking on any tangentially related project. In corporate-speak, I guess they would call this “diluting the brand.”
I’m not preaching, consider this more a confession. And I am fully aware that this is a very nice “problem” to have, to have enough opportunities from which to pick and choose. I am focusing on picking projects that are about Zoe the designer who also really likes to draw, and not Zoe the jack of all trades, master of none.
It’s 11pm and I’m fielding emails regarding 5 different events spanning 2 months, 2 delicious new projects, and designing yet another competition gown. With each email, “preserve your thickness” rattles in my head again.
To the 2 people left who still read my blog,
I just had the most surreal week of my life. Back in January, I entered the Oscars Designer Challenge. Then I became one of 9 finalists. Then I went to LA last Friday. On Saturday, we had fittings and meetings with jewelry people, on camera with Jay Manuel from ANTM. And then on Tuesday, there was a huge press conference with press from all over the world, and we presented our gowns. We were all interviewed. A lot. So many questions. So many flash bulbs. And then I came home. And then went on TV.
If you think my dress is hot, click here to vote for my dress to win! Winner gets their gown worn by one of the Oscar escorts onstage (and on camera) and 2 tickets to attend the Academy Awards themselves!
P.S. Someone pinch me.
Or test, then ship. How much testing?
I re-read this gem from The Fashion Incubator’s archives this weekend and got into a rather heated debate with my software engineer husband about item #3.
>>3. Ship, then test. I disagree with Guy on this one. He thinks most entrepreneurs over perfect their products prior to shipping. In my experience, most designers haven’t perfected their products enough; excessive product features that people don’t value is rare in this business. Still, I’ve seen a lot of paralysis by analysis from DEs. Some of you can’t get off the perfection treadmill to make a first launch. You have incredible laundry lists of “musts” that just aren’t tenable or realistic.<<
Like I said, my husband, A, is in software and his view of things is very different. That being said, he’s already co-founded a still-thriving company years ago and left it to start another, all while publishing a couple of books on software so he might know a thing or two about what he’s talking about. Ha.
Of course no one means to not test at all before shipping, there should be some testing. Pattern corrections, fittings, etc. But when do you just let your baby fly? (I know it’s dangerous to treat your products like your kids but I don’t know anyone who doesn’t slip once in a while.)
A says ship ship ship. Easy for him to say. If software tests poorly with the public, it’s very easy to issue a newer version. You fix the bug and post it on twitter. A few retweets later, everyone’s got the upgrade. Firefox 188.8.131.52.4, anyone? Isn’t your computer programmed to automatically scan for upgrades and notify you? There is a publicly accepted tenet that software is never as awesome as it will be in a couple of weeks/months.
Whether you work in “fashion” or “apparel”, it’s different. Clothing consumers, for the most part, don’t buy a dress thinking it will tide them over until the designer makes a better one. They buy a dress because it looks nice, it fits well, it’s priced well. Garmentos can’t ship everyone a new t-shirt because we discovered the way we sewed that collar doesn’t fit over a good percentage of the large-noggined public. And I’m thinking Toyota is wishing they tested a little more right about now.
What do you think? Am I making excuses or are my points valid? How do you reach the point where you’ve got something good enough? When you run out of time? (And yes, A and I have arguments like this on a regular basis. I’m very forgiving and he has selective memory.)
And you should check it out. And buy stuff. And mark stuff as your favorite because you love it, right?
I just started making stuff and thought, hey, I should sell some of this stuff. I had no luck with buyers so what the heck, eh? Here goes nothing! (click to view larger)
Are you on Facebook? Do you want to see updates and photos of Zoe Hong’s latest projects? Become a fan!
Zoe Hong will be one of 10 designers showcasing at Aspiring Couture’s Winter on the Runway event this Saturday, December 12th, at 3pm. I will be sending my dresses down the runway and displaying my new line of corselet belts after the show. There will be lots of great things for sale, other than my own things, of course, plus drinks and edibles. Check out Aspiring Couture’s website and blog to get more info and buy tickets. Hope to see you there!
Remember that belt I made?
It was featured in Zink magazine! This is my first editorial under my own label! How rad is it that it’s in a magazine I love so much? And I think the whole spread is fantastic. I’m proud to be part of it.
Much thanks to the amazing stylist Opé for contacting me, and to the husband for supporting me in my no-plan plan.
P.S. Dear Danielle, I told you I would blog when I had something to say. Heh. Love, Zoe.
I’ve been on twitter for a few years now but it only just recently occurred to me to post about it here. Follow me: http://twitter.com/zoehong
My photographer friend, Deborah Atalig, asked me to help her realize her concept of shooting a designer surrounded by all of her random work paraphanalia for her portfolio. At some point I randomly picked up a piece of yellow tulle and put it on my head as a joke and D fell in love with the idea, as you can tell from some of the other photos. These are my favorites from the shoot. (This is not what my studio looks like normally.) Click for larger images. To see more of Deborah’s work, check out her website. She also took the photos for my website, zoehong.com.