Balancing Style and Substance: How To Stay True To You
No matter what stage of the entrepreneur game you’re in currently, you’re always going to have someone in your ear telling you what to do and who to be. It’s kind of funny, isn’t it? You decide to strike out on your own, perhaps with a co-founding team, to put your all into something you believe in, that no one else is doing, and get away from someone bossing you around. But the thing is, we all know the truth: everyone has an opinion. And they’re entitled to that opinion—but you’re also entitled to being yourself and believing in you.
I’ve certainly been challenged by this concept lately, and I wholeheartedly believe it has affected my business. We lost ourselves, the mission we set out to accomplish—and I think it is because I was letting other people guide my sails. Their opinions of me, how I was doing, how we were doing, let me drift off course.
A lot of this came down to what I believe is balancing style and substance. And that actually is the core of my business, DesignerShare. We’ve built a platform that allows women to rent their designer clothes and accessories to one another. But we’d forgotten about the community aspect of this: not only do I still need to build these things from a technical development standpoint into the new site we launched this summer, but we need to enforce empowerment and being uplifting from the inside of our company, out.
See, we’re a fashion-tech company that manifests itself as a community, like eBay, Airbnb and Lyft, but I realized we were only focusing on the fashion side of things. The tech is what creates the platform that makes this community, so unlike the stereotypes of the fashion industry, actually happen. We haven’t been embodying the whole character of DesignerShare: sure, she’s got style, but she’s also friendly, open, in-the-know and most importantly, herself, so that she can connect with other people who believe that they can express themselves and lift each other up through fashion—not tear each other down.
I’ve come to realize my journey (my substance) and how I do it (my style) are all me—some people will like it, and some people won’t. The true test lies there: If everyone hates it or everyone likes it, ask yourself if you’re being true to yourself. If you are, at least 10 percent of people will not like you or what you are doing. And the more you reach for something great, the louder the voices become. Remember your own voice, and we can continue to all become stronger together.
Sarah Perkins is the CEO and co-founder of DesignerShare, a stylish community for women to rent their designer clothing and accessories to one another. She has a marketing degree from Santa Clara University and a masters in journalism from DePaul University, leading her to become a lifestyle journalist and editor before taking the entrepreneurial plunge. Sarah has loved fashion her whole life—she has visions of outfits based on mood and vividly dreams in color.
Connect with Sarah and DesignerShare