The startup world chewed me up and spat me out.

Oh hey there! Remember me? I was that girl that occasionally blogged and then went M.I.A for four months.

Well, I’m baaaaaack!

Where have I been you ask? Well I took a little trip down startup lane, and that sort of took over my entire life for four months so there was very little time for me to blog, or do little else, for that matter. Let me explain…

You might recall I had a bit of a quarter-life crisis and left my job in pursuit of a career in fashion mid last year. I took quite a demotion with my new job and after a few months, while it was awesome working in the industry, I was feeling like I needed something else to challenge me. I was finishing at 5pm on the dot every evening, and all of a sudden had all this free time on my hands. I’d been brainstorming productive ways to spend my time and engage my brain a bit. I started getting into this blog a bit more, attempted to start a dog walking business (managed to get a whooping one client… however despite this that one hour a week walk did actually turn out to be great for my mental health, so it wasn’t totally hopeless, despite not making me the millions I had anticipated), and started reading a lot to learn more about the fashion industry in pursuit of my ultimate goal – starting my own company.

One day I was reading a email newsletter that reported on the New Zealand retail industry (nerd alert), and they had profiled this new online menswear styling startup (similar to the popular Trunk Club concept in the US). I had been formulating ideas to crack into the menswear market in NZ for a while as knew it was a growth market that had a lot of potential, and was reading this article thinking ‘shit, they’ve bet me to it’.

Then I thought, ‘well, if you can’t beat them, join them’. I approached them to offer my services. I wanted the experience, had free time, and really had nothing to lose. I knew that as they were in startup phase they wouldn’t have any money, would have a million things that needed done, and no staff to do any of these things – the perfect opportunity for me to help out, get in at the start, and join them on the startup journey.

Long story short, they jumped at the opportunity (who wouldn’t turn down free marketing and fashion assistance?!) and after demonstrating my value to them, quickly got offered the (unpaid – it’s a startup remember) role of Chief Marketing Officer.

The first few months were awesome. It was exciting, I had somewhere to unleash my marketing skills, and the potential of the opportunity was everything. If this took off I would be looking after the marketing of a fashion e-commerce startup. Living the dream!

But then it got hard. And hey, I’m not naive. Startups are hard. I know that, and I knew that going into it. I’m not scared of hard work and I was so excited by the potential that I was all for it. I didn’t care that I had to spend all of my spare time working on trying to get this off the ground (we were all still working full time jobs), and didn’t mind that my co-founders were strangers – I ignored it, in fact.

In the lead up to Christmas it was hectic. I was working full time in retail in the busiest shopping season, then going home and working on all of the marketing, brand, social media presence, customer correspondence, as well as doing the styling for our limited client base (which I had taken over after the initial stylist we were working with parted ways), as well as attending all of the million social functions that come with the festive season. I took on too much and got burnt out in every sense of the word.

Thankfully I’d booked a week’s holiday over New Year and I declared to completely switch off from everything startup for the entirety of my holiday. I ignored my phone, spent time camping, road-tripping, swimming and sunbathing with my dearest friends.

See, the thing with holidays is they give you time to think. I always seem to come back from holidays with a renewed clarity for what I want in life. (My decision to leave advertising occurred while I was road-tripping around the country during Easter holidays). I came back from holiday feeling a lot less enthused about the whole startup thing, and the first week back a knot started building in my stomach… I wasn’t feeling it, I wasn’t feeling the people I was working with, and on the other hand, opportunities arose at my daytime job that were hard to ignore…

I realised that the passion I had for the startup wasn’t there anymore, and maybe never was there. I was perhaps blinded by the potential of it all that I ignored that fact that this wasn’t my idea, was never going to be ‘my dream’, and that the cultural fit with my cofounders wasn’t quite right.

If you are going to build a startup you have to be 150% passionate about the vision because it is hard. Really hard. And I just didn’t have that passion and motivation. If I was already doubting myself at the first tricky stage, how was I going to deal moving forward? So I accepted the promotion at work, and told my cofounders I couldn’t do it anymore.

And now here I am! I have my life back, have a little bit of free time on my hands, so time for me to get back into blogworld. Glad to be back. 🙂

I don’t regret doing it. I learnt A LOT, particularly that I have a lot more to learn. I know this won’t be my only chance to start a company and when the time is right it will happen. I’m focusing on the long game now – it should be fun!

Watch this space.

Jes x

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3 thoughts on “The startup world chewed me up and spat me out.

  1. Hey Jes,

    That was a really candid post about your experience at a startup. I find that the hype to realism ratio for startups expectations are over-exaggerated, people focus on the potential reward vs. the grunt work / hours put in. But hey, the good part is you got to experience and decide that it’s not for you, which is really commendable as well, because it’s easy to get pressured into things and keep on going while you burn out. Anyways, looking forward to reading more from you 🙂

    1. Thanks, glad you enjoyed! I totally agree, I think I got so caught up in the idea of it all that I ignored early warning signs that maybe it wasn’t right for me. But hey, we live and we learn! Thanks for your comment 🙂

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