It is not typical for me to do writings that reflect specifically from a personal standpoint on issues. That is the domain of blogs, which is not my forte. However, my thoughts are that these musings could help someone else in fashion potentially going through a similar time as myself.
I took time away from covering fashion for a couple of weeks. What did that entail? I’ll outline more below, but from a work standpoint, it involved working on other opportunities that will potentially move both my own personal professional career and Manic Metallic forward. It also involved concentrating on backend tasks such as shoring up our SEO and our overall website. Additionally, it involved zeroing in on financial tasks (it is tax season, after all).
What I did not do, however, was create any journalistic output of any kind – no audio, written, or video fashion content of any kind. At first, I planned on this being a couple of days off; it, however, turned into a decision to see what happens if I take a couple of weeks away from the core of Manic Metallic’s work. Here is what I learned:
- I was exhausted and really needed a break
- To that end, I learned just how many things that I was working on at the same time
- I got the mental space to ponder what other professional opportunities that I’d like to pursue
- Nothing stops the fashion industry
- It drove home just how much that this industry depends on hype and celebrity culture – particularly the American wing of fashion
- I got to observe what else was going on in the world outside of the fashion industry
- Fashion is a field that, if one loves it, can be emotionally enriching
1. I was exhausted and really needed a break
I’m at a transition period in my life. I am getting married to my fiancé in May; that means that my wedding is six weeks out. I am planning a wedding while being a startup founder directing a company in a competitive industry. Doing both of these at the same time is a stressful situation in which to be, and it has begun to take its toll on me with respect to fatigue and the pressure to do both of these things in which I am emotionally invested in a competent way.
We need to normalize admitting to overwhelm and taking a break. In fashion, this can be difficult because of the quick pace of the industry (more on that later), but we need to do it. Just because we are fashion industry professionals doesn’t mean that we are not human. We are. We will relate better to our audiences and our consumers if we are honest and show our humanity to them. Perfection has been out of style for a long time; no need to perpetuate this mindset.
2. To that end, I learned just how many things that I was working on at the same time
Being a startup founder whose business is still very lightly staffed means that most of Manic Metallic’s heavy lifting is mine to bear. I am okay with that; it is what I willingly signed up for when I signed those legal papers to become an LLC. It is worth noting, however, from time to time – and is, in fact, the responsible thing to do – what makes up one’s workload. Among those things for me are the following:
- Hosting ‘The Manic Metallic Podcast’, which first aired towards the end of January
- Many of the written journalistic pieces on our website
- Procuring outside opportunities for Manic Metallic, whether those might be speaking engagements, collaborations, or otherwise
- Connecting with our social media audience on the various channels with which we have accounts
- Directing our paid products and special projects
This is only a sliver of what I do. Manic Metallic is not quite at the point where we can bring on paid employees, which is the only level of staffing (intern or not) that we want to bring into our fold. Creatives deserve to be paid for what they do; we do not work off of a ‘free work’ model. What this means, though, is that I have chosen to shoulder much of the company’s output in the meantime. Learning to manage the amount of work that you have to do is a constant work in progress for almost everyone.
3. I got the mental space to ponder what other professional opportunities that I’d like to pursue
With so much on my plate both professionally and personally, it can become easy to not think about what I want to pursue individually inside of my career in fashion. To simply ask myself “How do I want to contribute to the fashion industry?” is something that can become partially obscured because most of what I want to do is aligned with Manic Metallic’s mission. The question here, then, is this: “If an opportunity arose for me individually, what would I say yes to?”
This dovetails with building a personal brand. In the era in which we all live, building your own personal brand has become a necessity. Whether or not you think that you have a brand, you do; a brand is simply how you are viewed by others based on how you show up in the world.
I have given my personal contribution to fashion much thought since I decided that I wanted to join this industry. However, I got to do that at a more targeted level over the two weeks of not covering fashion.
4. Nothing stops the fashion industry
Fashion is such a dynamic industry, oftentimes moving at the speed of light. Through wars and other disasters, fashion marches on. But this tendency has been controversial in many instances.
Some decided to ask the fashion industry to cease its fashion weeks in February due to the Vladimir Putin-created crisis in Ukraine. I must say that after covering New York Fashion Week’s F/W 2022 collections, I found it hard to zero in on the other February fashion weeks. However, it was well within the rights of these cities and their respective designers to continue onward with their work.
Notice that no other industry was asked to quit operating. Engineers weren’t asked to stop engineering. Marketers weren’t asked to stop marketing. Accountants weren’t asked to stop accounting. But yet, fashion was asked to follow a standard that other industries were not asked to uphold. This has happened frequently enough when there is upheaval in the world, and it ties back to an underlying lack of respect for the work that fashion professionals do in relation to other professions.
Our industry has a right to exist and thrive just as other less creative industries do. During my two weeks away from fashion coverage, so much happened in the industry. It will always be that way, and that is why it’s impossible to know about and cover everything. We all try our best, and this is one reason among a few as to why I’ve had Manic Metallic embrace the concept of slow journalism as it pertains to our work.
On one of our recent episodes of The Manic Metallic Podcast, I dive into how those of us in fashion cope when world crises strike. It’ll illuminate my thoughts a bit for you on what I’m discussing in this article: When World Crises Strike, How Do Those Of Us In Fashion Cope?
5. It drove home just how much this industry depends on hype and celebrity culture – particularly the American wing of fashion
Fashion has an unfortunate tendency to hitch itself to the fortunes of Hollywood and the entertainment sector. It’s almost as if it believes that its existence is more relevant and useful if celebrities are involved in both fashion’s input and output. I’ve spoken and written numerous times about fashion’s need to separate itself from the musings of Hollywood. In fact, what originally inspired me to start Manic Metallic was a desire to see fashion coverage that was not celebrity-centric. We’ve done a fine job of sticking to that ethos of ours.
The Manic Metallic Podcast did recently record an episode that gave my views about the Oscars. It was not about the celebrities, I’ll say that much. I invite you to listen to it by clicking this link: Manic Metallic Takes On the Oscars
6. I got to observe what else was going on in the world outside of the fashion industry
Isn’t it nice sometimes to take a look at what is going on in the rest of the world outside of fashion? It’s not only nice but imperative to do so.
Fashion can be so all-consuming that it is important to detach ourselves from this enticing but speedy world. For example, in leading Manic Metallic into an era of slow journalism, we put out less – but more quality – work. Even still, so much happens at any given point in time that is necessary to know about – especially for a company having a basis in journalism like ours. How can you comment on fashion and the world surrounding it if you don’t know what is going on in that world?
Getting to delve into both the horrifying and the fascinating events happening in our world helps to inform my work a lot better – and Manic Metallic’s work becomes richer as a result. In that recent episode on the Oscars, I elaborate on a recent experience that I had in central New York State while visiting a few of my wedding vendors. This was the same day that the Oscars was happening, and the juxtaposition of those two very different environments (central New York State vs. the very urban and glamorous Los Angeles) was an eye-opener.
There is a world outside of fashion; many of my fellow fashion industry mates fail to recognize this (we all do sometimes).
7. Fashion is a field that, if one loves it, can be emotionally enriching
Most people that enter fashion do so because they love it at some level. It is one of those fields that can be so difficult that you simply cannot do it if you hate what you do. That is what makes it one of the more rewarding fields of which to be a part.
But yet, if you become too emotionally attached to the work that you do in the industry, it can be detrimental to your health.
For example, I’ve written fashion articles and recorded fashion podcasts that have done very well with regard to attention from our current audience (and some potential new members). Conversely, I’ve done journalistic pieces into which I invested a lot of time, energy, and emotion – only for the pieces to fall flat in terms of readership and engagement.
This hurt because I saw it as a rejection of something that I believed to be important work (I still do) – and in a way, perhaps a rejection of myself and my values. When you love the work that you do, it is hard to not see things in this way. Upon entering the fashion industry, you will very quickly learn that the highs are very high and the lows can feel crushing.
In those low times, you should allow yourself the time to grieve over your perceived loss and then come back to continue. These are the moments where you find out if your ‘why’ is strong enough to carry you through turbulent waters. If you’re knocked down, can you get up again to see another day?
One thing that is important is to not listen to those that say to just power through without stopping. You know, the ones that say to keep going, that everyone experiences disappointment and that yours is no different. This message is not only invalidating to you and every other individual facing a struggle but is toxic and harmful. Your difficulties are important, and as entrepreneurs, members of the fashion industry, and as human beings, we must allow ourselves the space to be angry and upset without fear of judgment from our colleagues and our audience
Once we feel that we are ready to move forward with our work again, then we should do so at a pace that is comfortable for us. I am fortunate enough to not have a boss, so I can take time away if needed. If you do not, do the best that you can. It’s all that any of us can do.
My hope is that this piece has helped someone out there in fashion to realize that the need to step away from the fashion industry for a time is not abnormal. It is not the end of the world. And, in fact, doing this will make your work that much better when you return.
The most important reason to step away, however, is to allow yourself the chance at rejuvenation, regardless of what effect it will have on your work. You deserve to have breaks whenever you feel that you need them for your own personal health and enjoyment.