Dear future me,
This article is my stylish, life stylish attempt to reconnect with you and look at what you've learned over the past 29 years and also a good reason to start writing again. In the next 30 short letter stories I will share with you my thoughts and observations on sustainable style, business culture, technology, conscious life lessons, transformational thoughts and feelings of growing up. This is just the beginning, so remember to breathe and take care of yourself. And above all it's not only about me here, it's about you and me - being part of a very interesting lifetime we live in.
Letter 1: Real life and your vivid imagination
First step towards your next phase in life is, when you are in your end twenties and you realise that the life and lifestyle you imagined for yourself to be by now, slightly different from the real life that you are living at this exact moment. In my case, it was as if you would take a freezing shower full of realisations and observations about your imperfections. While you thought you were quite aware of yourself, your goals and achievements, the reality draws another picture. They call it awakening.
Following some reflections on: when they say "think big". I always thought I was good at that, which I am, but there is only one but. There is a fine line between thinking big and just wishing for things to happen. The awakening guides you through all the areas of your life to showcase to you where you mind has been wandering. That's why you will have some areas in your life that work perfectly fine and others where you seem to not have real control over it. When you have these realisations, the first thing is to just stay calm and then without judgment say hello to the true you: Hello, I am Yana, 29 years old, but only 3 conscious, awakened years old. Welcome to my life!
They say you've changed! As I worked that hard to stay the same?! (that song!) - Jay Z
Letter 2: Becoming an adult
Can you imagine that feeling when you have so much to work on, that you don't even know where to start? So you decide to take a nap. Well, it seems like a great plan, but no, the reality finds you and hunts you down to push you to the edge of progress and decision making, whether you like it or not.
You often see some memes passing your feed, saying: "When in a room you start looking for an adult, then you realise you are an adult, then you start looking for an adultier adult." Well this when-I-grow-up attitude stayed with me until I was 24. Until my by now my ex-boyfriend told me: "You need to take responsibility for what you say and do, because from now on people won't give you credit anymore - just because you are young." That was a moment when I started to act like adult.
That moment when you know, that you are the one who brought you where you are now. Doing this without drama and judgment and a great desire to make a change. This is an adult way of handling things. This is also the time that you stop looking for an adult and accept responsibility for your own life. You ARE today who you thought and what you did yesterday.
Also when you decide to be an adult and not only to act like one get yourself a dog. This is the best thing that will ever happen to you. That love and commitment will help you make better, more grown up decisions, because you are now responsible for another life.
Letter 3: Social influence
Our life is very frequently referred to as series of events. Getting fired is one of them. Being fired often means that you are at odds with your company, but it also can be a positive move for your career. It means that the current job isn't right for you and not that you are worthless. And above all it shows you take initiative. Ok, but how to turn this situation into a positive one?
With some wit and wisdom you just learn from the event what you need to learn and go off onto a path of getting to know yourself, because if don't you will fail again and again. Which is good if you learn how to fail better every time. What helps when you discover who you are and what you want to do, is you surround yourself with inspiring social influences: people that have qualities you admire, passions that inspire you and fields that you can learn from. Step, by step, day by day, hour per hour you imitate and therefore build your own social influence and you'll see right opportunities start to arise and you will start believing in magic.
There are no short cuts to any place worth going. NONE! - Sills
Letter 4: Sustainability is not altruism
I started my entrepreneurial career with different projects, but eventually really started it as a personals stylist. I never thought that it would be THAT and I would be helping people get dressed and discover their personal style, but hey these are my realities. The point is I never thought of it as a talent. They say what you do best you never consider as something special. Anyways, fast forward a little bit, unwillingly, unconsciously I started my sustainability journey when the clients started asking me for services that I didn't even think about.
Using personal style as your asset towards sustainability, then became my speciality. Further from there I built in it in a much broader sense to help others achieve their goals and stay true to themselves. The interesting thing about this was, that suddenly I was perceived as an activist, because I was speaking up about the fact that shopping for the sake of shopping and passion for fashion are two very different things and that we cannot afford meaningless buying any longer.
So, what do I think about sustainability in business today? Sustainability as a component of a business has nothing to do with altruism. It’s about consumers making choices that represent who they are and what they believe in. And businesses that fit into this (digital) lifestyle.
Letter 5: Use personal style as your weapon
Personal style is literally your secret winning weapon. Think about it. Every time something important happens and you need to put clothes on you start paying close attention to what you are going to wear. In order to make this good impression and preferably a lasting one with a result you need to know yourself and what suits you, what explains others that you stand for without you having to say this out loud. You will never know if you never learn. Educate yourself. You are your biggest and most important project in this life.
Whether you like it or not, but having a personal style is the most sustainable and probably budget friendly way of living your life and expressing who you are. What do I mean? You don't get distracted that much due to the marvellous new color of the year or the trend that looks incredible on Instagram. It's easy for me to say maybe, but as no one teaches you how to raise children or build a fulfilling and loving relationship. Nobody tells you how to do this signature-style-thing. If this is not of you interest, you will end up stressing out when this important moment in your life arrives and you have "nothing" to wear.
Letter 6: I want it all, and I want it now
This is a millennial talking here, no judgment please, but we are this generation of "making an impact" and I have two things to say about that: 1. Wel, yes this is exactly true that we need a purposeful life to live and that our very loving parents fantasised us to be these super fabulous and perfect creatures who can achieve anything they want. As long as we WANT it.
Note: Well, please don't just WANT it for as long as I did, but understand that twenty years olds that have their own tech companies and are changing the way we live, shop, communicate don't get special visions overnight. They choose other things to focus and work on everyday for a long time. It only takes ten years to get discovered overnight.
What I understand about making impact today is: it's not your result, although without it it doesn't count, but its your everyday effort, your consistent rhythm that will lead to creative ideas and eventually to a beginning of a journey that one day might impact people's lives. Consistency is everything.
Letter 7: I want it all, and I want it now (part 2)
There were two things I wantend to say about it, remember? So, 2. Making an impact is actually another way of saying take ownership of the things that you can change. Work and focus every day. Contribute from where you are now and let go of things that you cannot impact today.
It's great to have bold dreams and follow them, but please remember you will not reach them unless you have everyday goals to do things differently. As one friend of mine said: " You set up yourself for failure, because you want to make this jump at once. You will never get that, because you built up your habits and beliefs for almost thirty years now and you want to take this leap in another direction in one moment. It won't work. You need to help yourself acquire the right mindset to make this right move at the right time. You need to allow yourself to feel successful today in small ways. This will create the winners mentality in you in tangible results and step by step you'll win."
Cliché: Success is a mentality of enjoying the process towards victory and not the end result. And it's true, I felt it myself. It's true.
Letter 8: Sustainability means efficiency
Sustainability means efficiency, this is a real deal for me. Let me explain why... Working with sustainable solution for a bit now I understand that there are different meanings that you can give to this word. Sustainability can address production, social environment, consumption, distribution or all of them. As a business you can decide where you focus will be. As for me it is really about efficiency. How do we us what we have, without having to have more in a most stylish and efficient way so that everyone can keep their job, but the system will just work differently.
In these times of turbulence small initiative can make an enormous impact on our lives in a good and in a bad way. All of us are responsible to be part of sustainable approach on one way or another. What meaning you give to it, doesn't really matter, what matters is that you care!
Letter 9: Patience...
You know what I see around me: a lot of stylish, high quality and sustainable initiatives and brands that arise, but to be truly honest with you I've realised that this is just such a small percentage of the market and that the realities of the fashion industry are quite old fashioned still.
Though I am convinced that all the industries that are not yet affected by technology are old fashioned. Fashion is now disrupting everything that doesn't suit it anymore. Very exciting, but it takes time. And I have patience, respect and admiration for this industry to believe in it and to support it in every way I can.
Letter 10: System thinking
So you hear me coming that as we all can make impact everyday, do we all need to start producing something sustainable or have another web shop selling this beautiful and inspiring stuff? Well, yes and no! I don't think that because we live globally today and it's easier to connect to small manufacturers that you need to become a designer and make your own STUFF - even if sustainable - and sell it replicating the old e-commerce model. What I do think is a great way of taking sustainable initiative, is to improve what already exists and change the way these systems work.
You know why I think that, because as mentioned above I see a lot of inspiring brands arise and you need a system for these new initiative to flourish and to make it to mainstream scale and become as normal as organic food in our every day life.
Letter 11: Friends are not friendlies
My friends are not friendlies, but I love the friendlies in my life more and more. You only have a very few friends, above that this doesn't mean that they are for life. You grow, they grow. You might grow together or grow apart. You also have these people in your life that are not your friends, but also not your acquaintances. I call them friendlies: friendly alliances. I learned to love these people in my life, very much!
You know when you try to build a business you are obsessed with it and on a certain point so obsessed that you experience quality time with your friends as a waste of time, because you have so much to do or want to get done. You will survive this phase and your friends will too, but here is why it happens. Most of the time your friends love you for who you are, not because of what you do or who you are with, but because in their eyes you are a great person. Therefore when you meet up they to have quality time or talk about so many other things than your new business adventure and you want to only talk about your new business adventure. Hmm how to fix that?!
This is where friendlies come in. These people are amazing because they feel like friends, but not that intense as real friends. It's most likely if you are an entrepreneur these people are too or have done it at least. They get inspired by your new ideas and would like to brainstorm a with you any time, any place. These are the people with whom you start collaborations or address their network for help. Your bonding is based on mutual admiration, but without getting too personal. You can have a wine together and you work together.
Having said that, it doesn't mean it cannot grow into a friendship.
Letter 12: Influencers are not bloggers
Social norms are how people think of themselves, what they aspire to be like, and how they expect others to act. As for social influence, people are constantly watching other people. I decided to focus on sustainability as my field of influence, because this is something I understand and believe in. Above all I love fashion, I do, but I am not going to faint after seeing a new trendy pair of shoes. What I am excited about is how I personally and we as business people can reduce our negative impact on this lovely planet without compromises in style.
These letters that you are now reading though are a more personal way for me tos tart writing about sustainability, personal style and conscious consumption in a broad way. Because I know I am not a blogger, as I do not write often enough, but I would like to be influential in what I do in order to be an agent of change. This post only made it live because I realised that there is room for experts and insiders too who can bring their opinion in or share life behind the scenes. These innovators who eventually can become authorities in their fields.
Letter 13: The Reformation-effect
What does it mean to be successful as a brand? I am not saying I know how it's done although I see a pattern with brands that do it well. I call it a Reformation-effect. let me explain what it means...
These days we all are a brand and back in 2013 when I was living in London one very respected man told me: "You need to get a website. Even if you don't know what you are going to do with it yet. This will change the perception of how people view you." A website, me? I am not a designer, what do I have to offer to the world? The point here is that probably a lot of people have the same, and even if you don't know it yet with your online presence you have the space to play with and to show how you mind works and what you stand from. This will change as you change, but it doesn't matter.
So, once you have a website and you are building your brand, you have this very simple secret ingredient that makes Reformation-effect happen to your brand. The success of a great lifestyle brand is: photography. Yes, it's pretty simple, but oh so rare in this internet era. There are so may incredibly inspiring (sustainable) initiatives, but their looks or call it photography just suck! Pardon my french but it's such a shame.
I call it the Reformation because this sustainable fashion brand took this industry by storm due to putting their message in a desirable pictures. This made everyone go on their knies in a very short time, because of course of their relevance to pop-culture and great (aes)ethetics. If they can do it, you can do it too.
Letter 14: Collaboration is the buzz word of the future
Collaboration is everything! This is the future of every success store from now on. You cannot know everything, you cannot own everything and you cannot do it on your own anymore. This is what excites me! I don't say that all collaborations are successful or made with the right purpose, but you cannot deny that's it's not realistic to start building your own infrastructure for the sake of it. So wouldn't that be great if innovators could help established brands to grow their businesses in another way than the traditional one. That they can apply their creative ideas to existing resources and therefore reach different goals for existing and aspiring public.
Letter 15: Highly intelligent or a slave of mind
Being intelligent and overthinking are two totally different things. This might be something that is very clear to you, but it wasn't the case for me. In the era where we are overwhelmed with availability of knowledge and possibilities of continuous learning. You might end up feeling pressured to stay on top of your game, but the truth is you won't achieve that by pushing these unachievable standards upon you. Self improvement is good. Exaggeration in every form is not. This is a fast lane to burn-out.
What will keep you on top of your game is your focus, and ability to listen to your body and push it forward at the right time and relax whenever it feels like it. The ones that can manage that are happy and very intelligent people!