Yesterday I was in an Uber driving home from work, and the Uber driver had NPR on the radio. A strange coincidence, the very same Uber driver dropped me off at my destination and picked me up 15 minutes later – so I listened to an NPR podcast teary eyed for about an hour in this Uber ride after a long day at work. I listened to a couple featured podcasts about entrepreneurs, one story stuck out to me about a man who opened up a flower shop, then transitioning into creating software for flower shops, before landing a job at a corporation – but what stuck out to me was that he and he said he knew he hated it after 2 weeks and quit. This man went on to found Edible Arrangements (read his story here). I couldn’t help but tear up a little, hearing this and relating to this feeling a little (although I don’t quit, never quit), feeling torn between my day job in tech or pursue my career in apparel design. I spent the last 10 years pursuing my dream and can’t imagine giving it up.
2 months ago, I had a moment in a restaurant with one of my best friends Timmy (this was before my shellfish allergy kicked in) when I realized my life would never be the same. The last few years I’ve felt torn because I’m at an age where I’m feeling ready to settle down, thinking about a family, but still having lots of drive and ambition boiling in my blood. I feel lucky to have so many inspiring entrepreneurs and successful people surrounding me daily, giving me advice, without me even asking. Today, as I lie awake at 2am, I realized that I’m the type of person that takes risks. Sometimes from my gut intuition – sometimes calculated, sometimes in a panic. And in knowing that, I know I’ll never be able to stop taking risks – and I think that’s what it means to be an entrepreneur. I realize I do it in my day to day, not even knowing (accidentally walking on the sidewalk of a construction zone, eating sushi despite my shellfish allergy) these are not things I’m saying you should ever do, but for whatever reason I’m compelled to take these risks.
I realized this is what it means to be an entrepreneur, always taking risks. Not until after being featured in Forbes online, I had someone refer to me as a Founder. I never thought of myself as a “Founder” which is funny to think to myself living and working in Silicon Valley for years, founding this very tiny start up company (with help from my Mom, an amazing creative team, and a freelance occasional design assistant), sewing couture dresses in my tiny Lower Nob Hill Studio. Way before I even knew what a start up was — I was starting small businesses. I started my first accessory line of handbags at 12 years old. I sold custom prom dresses at 15. By 16 I had founded Alyssa Nicole which is almost 10 years strong now. I’m lucky to have worked with such an amazing team of talented individuals who don’t give up, and I wish everyone could have the support system I have had in pursuing my dreams. Which is why I work so hard to create this dreamy ethereal World of Alyssa Nicole here in my Designer Diary.
I’ve learned a lot of lessons over the years, as an entrepreneur you make mistake, after mistake, until you get it right, and then a harder task, you don’t give up. One thing I know is that the start up failure rate is about a 90% in Silicon Valley, and no matter where you are, or what you do, it’s hard to stay strong through good times and bad times. I’ll never be able to stop taking risks and see where it gets me, but I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t try. I take calculated risks, curating my marketing content years in advance and this recent content concept for the blog (featured below) was something my stylist Peter & I joked about 2 years ago during our FW15 Designer Diary photoshoot, after feasting on In & Out Burgers, and reading a Harpers Bazaar article online about the rise to Instagram fame with one hashtag and one concept on our mobile devices.
But in my reality (aside from the glossy blog photos and Instagram stories, yes I know your watching I see you there in my views!) These past few months – a thought that never crossed my day dreaming stargazing eyes – scaling my company. I was thrown for a loop – I’ve been completely in my own world thinking Prince Charming was going to rescue me, this damsel in distress living in SOMA, on his white horse to run off and live happily ever after. Right? Isn’t that what happens in all the Taylor Swift songs before the Red album? I’ve been struggling with anxiety every day thinking “Okay scaling my company, what if I do this – what if it doesn’t work – what if I fail in front of everyone?” I sent texts at midnight to every startup founder I’m friends with in SF asking really basic questions which I probably could have Googled (and that’s exactly the advice they gave me).
Next scenario: What is the worst that could happen? What do they say when you get nervous speaking in public —Just imagine everyone naked or in their underwear? Or worse – me public speaking (which I’m terrible at by the way) naked or in underwear 😱. So I just did it — put a belfie on the Insta (it’s 2017, I played it safe and carefully watched and calculated the risk on this trend for 3 years).
So now if I crash and burn and fail as an entrepreneur in the duration of my lifetime in front of everyone who has been following along my journey of design all these years – the worst that could happen, already happened. My parents are mad, monkey is mad, my co workers are shocked, but engagement & site traffic is up, as I happily measure conversions and check my Insta story stats to report back to you here. My point? I am human, I have flaws, and we are all the same, made up of hopes, dreams, and doubts. This A/B test had a success rate 96%.
So for those of you questioning my status as role model or brand vision after posting an artsy Kate Moss inspired Insta worthy #Belfie at sunset for my 26th bday and 10 years of busting my ass designing this carefully crafted collection? I hiked up a mountain, carrying my handcrafted collection, I tripped, fell down, bleeding on Mt.Tamalpais as I questioned my path in life, freezing cold, crying over my bf, to get the damn shot. What have I learned & what is my advice? I am someone who suffers from extreme social anxiety and cringes every time I post a pic of my #OOTD for ❤️’s just so I can sell a dress to you or even just put a design in front of your eyes, I’ve taken a lot of painfully embarrassing risks on my road to success (i.e. Collections S/S 2010 or S/S 2009, even modeling the line when I just want to design). I never stop learning something new every day and my advice is simple.
If you don’t try, you’ll never know. Work to inspire and build your team up, not down. If you’re not trying something new, you’re not learning. So take the risk, and be a #GIRLBOSS. #TheFutureIsFemale
I believe in body positivity & feeling comfortable in your own skin. Don’t forget you can custom order a sustainable Alyssa Nicole Dress customized to fit and Book a Fitting!
Xo, Alyssa Nicole
Thank you to everyone who has been along for me on this journey, who has inspired me, supported me, and shopped my collection. You are the reason I breathe and live to inspire.