When I sat behind my computer in 2009 and started writing my battle plan for conquering the world of lingerie, I never thought I was aiming too high. It all felt natural and I could almost touch it with my bare hands. Were my plans actually realistic? Or was I just able to dream big?
Is it better to be a dreamer or a realist in the world of business?
In a recent article by Netscape founder Marc Andreessen he claimed that the worst suggestion you can give an eager start-up entrepreneur is “Follow your dream”. Five years ago I would have passionately fought against his statement. Wasn’t my ability to dream the reason why Kriss Soonik Loungerie got started in the first place?
We designers are stubborn egoists. We believe that when we create something, our clients will be as excited about it as we are, and run to purchase it. Five years ago I was exactly like that – confident and naïve. And as a lot of others I started catching my dreams. I believed that our products will conquer the world.
Only today do I really understand what Andreessen means. Does the world actually need another dress or app designer? I doubt so. It is wonderful to start something but how do you keep the fire burning and keep the growth up? Your business has to have a meaning. You need to add value to your field. It can be something super easy, but it has to matter to your customers.
I feel we are genuinely lucky. People like our products and they possess a value. With only five short years we have found our voice that we can focus on and develop. But all this hasn´t come easy. I constantly get my hands dirty. And do it over and over again. There is no point spending years in the comfort of your bedroom hoping that the day your final product sees daylight, it suddenly is perfect. Only by testing, getting feedback and developing it, will get you closer to perfection and finding its additional value. But sometimes things don´t need to be perfect to work very well. Perfection is boring anyway.
I am an egoist and a realist who doesn’t give up easily. If something is not working, I will try to find out why. Sometimes the market just isn’t ready for a product. Sometimes the product itself isn´t right. But this really only means one thing – analyse, change and try again. Do not give up. Especially when your gut feeling says that you are on the right path.
I know that my stubbornness to run the business my way is the reason why a lot of doors are still closed for us. But this is also the reason why we are selling our collections in some of the best boutiques in the world. From Opening Ceremony in New York to Opaque in Tokyo, we have built an amazing global fan club. Not everyone has to like you. On your journey there will be a lot of people who want to change your ideas, but give them time and they will be stealing them. The hardest and most important part is to stay true to yourself. Keep your goals in sight. Listen to others when they try to help you, but be sure to stay on track.
There is still one thing I am sure of – you have to dream. And dream big! The experience you get along this entrepreneurial journey is priceless. If you don’t try you will never know.If things just don’t go as planned, don’t be afraid to make changes, because even dreams can change…
The article was first published in Estonian daily business newspaper “Äripäev”.