Leaping into pyjamas – my year as an entrepreneur

I’m fascinated by how customers fall in love with something about a brand.

I’ve worked for, and helped grow, a number of brands and I’m continually trying to make sense of that elusive thing that makes one brand more inspiring than another. I’ve always known that one day I would try to create a brand myself, from nothing.

And yet it took until I’d been working in the industry for over twenty years before I finally had the courage to take the plunge, to leave a well-paid job and the luxury and security of a monthly salary.  I felt like I was venturing into very risky uncharted territory as I put everything I had into my idea.

As I reflect on the past year the thing that strikes me most is that I’ve spent a lot of the time in a state of terror.

That seems like a really strong word but it’s my best description of how I’ve felt.

Of course it’s been stressful. Especially when I see all the money going out and not coming back in at the same rate.

And yes, it’s a start-up so I wear a lot of different hats –  I’m CEO, creative director, financial director all rolled into one…. unless I happen to be talking to customers on the phone.

I want to do all those jobs well. But that’s not what the terror is about either.

This terror is different and it requires all my courage, often on a daily basis, to see it off.

It’s a gremlin who sits on my shoulder asking me who I think I am. Who do I think I am to be so indulgent as to follow my dream?

Do you know the Marianne Williamson quote?

To paraphrase, it’s not our darkness we fear, it’s our light. It’s not the fear of failure but of success.

And it’s true; if Marmalade fails I will be devastated but my world won’t fall apart, and at least I’ll have tried. I can handle the fear of failure. But the pressure to be the best I can be terrifies me.

And now it’s Marmalade’s first birthday. The dream is becoming a brand. The brand is growing. Customers are falling in love with our clothes. I confess it makes me joyful. It’s what I dreamed of. And I’ll learn to live with the terror.

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