This post has been brewing for a while and I feel now is the right time to release it and share the truth with you.
In a way I’m writing this for a selfish reason – I desperately want to get it off my chest. But on the flip side I am hoping it will inspire you to have the guts to quit if things aren’t going the way you’d hoped.
For three solid years Young The Label was my dream.
I wanted nothing more than to have a successful designer handbag label and run a thriving business with my sister.
I loved seeing our ideas and designs come to life, which truly was a feat seeing as though neither of us have a fashion or design background.
I relished in the fact that we received fantastic press across mainstream and online media. It was truly humbling to know that we sold out of our first two collections all whilst working full time in our day jobs. I adored working and collaborating with a number of amazing and talented creatives. I loved connecting with our beautiful customers and to see and feel their loyalty and passion for our products still blows me away.
Just last week in Newcastle I saw three customers who were sporting Young The Label designs, all expressing their love for their handbags.
Then the dreaded question popped up, “So when is your next collection coming out?”
The answer is, there won’t be a ‘next collection.’
So here’s the truth.
Shit happens. And a lot of shit happened to Young The Label.
I am the first person to admit that starting and running your own business is far from easy, especially when you are creating and manufacturing products.
You face challenges on a daily basis. Some are small, some are huge and some are life changing. But if you have pure passion for what you are doing you can overcome anything. I truly believe this.
But our passion had petered out.
Instead of being excited and pumped about our business adventure we got to the point where we felt like we were wading through thick, sticky and intensely hot molasses.
For a long time I tried to ignore this overwhelming feeling of heaviness and I kept pushing.
Both Meredith and I were pushing to make it work. We hired a ridiculously expensive business coach and an agent to help with manufacturing. We continued to remain positive on the surface and I even agreed to move to Asia in order to scale the business.
Finally a string of events (read – heartbreaking disasters) eventuated and we finally took this as a sign from the Universe that Young The Label needed to rest.
(The term I am using is YTL is on an ‘indefinite hold’ – I’ll explain more later).
Of course this brings up a lot of crazy and upsetting emotions for me. I’m grieving, because it’s a loss. I’m grieving because I lost my business, my business partner and my vision for the future.
We invested so much time, energy, love and cash into our business and now it’s gone.
My initial concern was about what others would think of our decision. “They’ll think I don’t stick to things. I give up too easy. I’m a fraud and a fake….I’m a quitter.”
Then I felt an overwhelming sense of loss and sadness (to be honest, I still do). Young The Label had become such a huge part of my identity and now it’s just in my past.
I also had the dreaded feeling that I had disappointed others and let them down. We had so many supporters from our partners, parents, extended family and friends, how could we tell them that we are throwing the towel in?
Then the stage of self-doubt raised its ugly head. I’d left my job in Sydney and had planned to work on the business in Hong Kong. My initial reaction was “what the hell am I going to do?”
“Who would want to hire me?” I’m a failed entrepreneur and I had no interest in going back to my previous industry of marketing international education.
But thankfully being in Hong Kong gave me space to reflect and really work on redefining my definition of success and what I truly wanted out of life.
After a lot of soul searching, tears, meditation and wishing I never moved to Hong Kong I realised I was courageous.
I was brave enough to admit that it wasn’t working. It didn’t feel right. We needed to get out.
I now know that there is nothing wrong with escaping. You have to do what is right for you (regardless of what others may think) and be true to yourself.
I’m proud that Meredith and I listened to our intuition and saw those heartbreaking business disasters as a sign that we were rapidly running down the wrong path for our lives.
What’s worse – saying “Hey, this isn’t working out. I’m going to quit and change direction,” and the potential fall out accompanied with that decision.
“Everything is crap but I’m just going to keep plugging away and hope it will get better with time,” even though deep down you know it wont.
Current State of Play
I don’t see Young The Label as a failure.
I see it as an experiment and the source of so many amazing life and business lessons (plus amazing friendships).
We have decided to keep our company open and we still own the trademark of Young The Label. At this point, it doesn’t feel right to close it down. There are so many opportunities bubbling away here in Hong Kong, who knows what could happen? It may not be handbags, it could be something else!
We are keeping our hearts and minds open.
Since living in Hong Kong I have worked really hard to uncover what I truly want and that is, to live an extraordinary life with intention and purpose.
I’m genuinely excited about my future. I’ve gained so much clarity and courage and I feel an incredible sense of expansion.
I now have a new direction and I’m skipping down a glittery and promising new path.
I’ve hit the books (again) and I’m currently studying full time to be a Life Coach (something that I have thought about for a few years).
I love the thought of helping others create their own extraordinary lives and I cannot wait to get started.
I’m literally bursting with excitement!
But now I want to offer some support to you.
Life Lessons From Me to You
We all have times where we feel stuck, or worse, we feel trapped. It could be in your career, in a relationship or maybe an unhealthy addiction you are suffering.
Below I’ve summed up the life lessons I have taken away from this experience which I’m hoping may be the ‘encouraging and supportive push’ you need to make a much needed change.
- When things aren’t going to plan give yourself permission to quit and change direction. YOU are the boss of your life. Have the guts to make a change.
- Find the courage deep within to listen to your inner voice telling you things aren’t quite right.
- Understand and accept that things change, your vision for the future can evolve and that’s totally ok. It’s your life. You’re in control!
- Don’t worry what others think. Stay true to yourself.
- Make peace with your decision. Give it time. You will get there, I promise.
- Finally, create a bright and shiny new plan and just MOVE FORWARD!
Aaaahhhh……. I have just let out a giant sigh of relief.
I genuinely want to thank you for indulging me and allowing me to explain my situation and my feelings.
I really hope that my experience can provide you with the courage to let go of what ever it is that isn’t serving you any more and stand up and make a change!
I would love to hear your thoughts about quitting and changing direction in the comments section below. Have you ever listened to your gut and completely changed your life direction?
Or if you feel you would like to reach out to me personally, you can always send me an email Ainslie(@)startingwitha.com/dev. I would love to hear from you.
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