The secret lesson of a good manicure.

Brave Soles Peace Flag House

An unexpected secret to brand success

Brows, nails and toes. In that order, ladies. In life, entrepreneurship and love, you will fail more than you succeed. But you’re always fail better if you’ve let someone give you a nice manicure.

These are the wise words of our client Christal Earle, founder of the ethical fashion brand Brave Soles. She and I were on a video call one rainy Friday afternoon, hashing out strategy, updates, successes and failures. She complemented me on my string of pearls. I loved on her fabulous red manicure.

We both laughed because we knew these little delights were our personal responses to some failures and feelings of overwhelm. That’s when she dropped the brows, nails and toes comment on me.

One of my super powers is knowing truth when I hear it. And this was a capital T truth.


Christal’s brand success super power

I like to get to know my clients very well. Like let’s have dinner and good long chat kind of well. It’s so much easier to support someone in expressing their story and crafting their message to the world when you understand who they are and why they do what they do.

In the process of getting to know someone you come to recognize their strengths (as well as their weaknesses). Everyone of our clients brings a unique super power to the world of ethical luxury. After this comment from Christal, I knew exactly what her super power was: asking for help. 

What’s more important than being willing to fail?

You expected me to say willing to fail, right? Having the courage to fail is wildly important, but I think asking for help is even bigger.

Every week I read posts from ethical fashion designers and entrepreneurs crippled by the workload they face. Making, marketing, distribution, customer care, publicity, and packaging are just the pieces I can think of in this moment. Launching a brand, of any sort, takes more determination, resources and energy than you can imagine until you’re in the thick of it.

I understand the pressure and I understand that feeling of needing, or even wanting, to do it all. I get it. I am definitely one of those “do-it-yourself” kind of people who is determined to figure it out for myself. But the honest truth is that this attitude holds me back.

Christal, on the other hand, asks for help. She approaches everything from what the Buddhists call “beginners mind”. She never, ever hustles alone.

It’s incredible to behold. Story after story, she’s shared with me examples of approaching experts and asking for help. She’s joined incubators and start-up programs, asking for help at every stop. She’s had dinner with strangers. Called up potential funders. Followed up with mentors. And all the way along, people have stepped forward with assistance and support.

Never hustle alone

Has her road to success been easy? Not at all.

Is her road to success finished? Not at all.

Every moment along the way, at every new achievement and at every new failure, she asks for help. Sometimes from people she knows. Sometimes from strangers.

I can’t emphasize enough the difference this makes to her success. I work with start-ups, entrepreneurs and small brands every day. I’ve seen different types of success and I’ve seen people choose to leave their brand. I say this with no judgement.

I have seen first hand the difference asking for help makes. It’s not the only difference between staying and going, but it is certainly one of the larger ones.

Personal or political

I’m going to underscore this just a little further. Perhaps it’s because so many of us in this field are women and we don’t want to be perceived as weak. Perhaps that’s why we feel like we have to hustle alone.

Maybe it’s because we’re not used to the perks of informal social structures like “the old boys club” and we feel the need to prove ourselves by working harder, longer and better than “the boys”.

I think it may be linked to lifetimes of gender training that taught us ladies to serve other’s needs before articulating our own.

Whatever the reasons, personal and political, we have to get to the point where we not only ask for, but accept, help.

Trade, barter, pay, ask, apply, offer coffee and wine. Whatever makes you feel okay. But don’t, under any circumstances, hustle alone.