Fashion Business Owner Musings: Limbo

I’ve been thinking about this thing that a lot of us tend to do, which is to keep ourselves in limbo. On purpose.

Why? Because being in limbo often means that you’re in a hopeful place that is safe, full of possibility, and hard to give up.

Once you leave limbo, it’s done- whatever the outcome, it’s decided. And you need to deal with the consequences and next steps, which can be disappointing or scary.

That’s not to say that they are always disappointing or scary, it’s to say that they could be, which is why “limbo” is such a comfortable place.

In business, this shows up a lot in the idea that you’re “launching” rather than “launched.” It’s the comfy place you snuggle in after you’ve decided to start your own fashion business but before you’ve announced it fully to the world, i.e. before you put your vulnerability on full display.

Once you’ve launched you feel pressure to perform, you fear flopping, you worry about people’s perceptions. When you’re in limbo, “working on launching,” you are safe from these things. You are cozy in the knowledge that you get some leeway since you haven’t actually launched. So why wouldn’t you want to stay there?

Now, you may be saying, “What are you talking about?! I can’t wait to launch! ” And if that’s the case, that’s wonderful!  Stick with that mindset and keep going!

But if you’re like many of us, there’s a fear attached to vulnerability and a love associated with the sense of hope. And that combination can cause us to stay in limbo, a place that avoids the vulnerability while bathing in the hope. I not gonna lie, it’s a heck of a lovely place to be.

The problem?

While it may feel good, remaining in limbo means you’re not growing or learning. It means you’re not facing obstacles and you’re not solving problems.

In short, it’s not sustainable.

We can’t live in limbo and expect to be challenged. And being challenged is an important part of life. Challenge brings opportunity and evolution, two must-haves in business.

A big part of what we need to do is call ourselves out when we realize that we’re basking in the world of limbo. This is true whether it has to do with launching a new project, a new fashion business or, honestly, doing anything else at all.

Are you avoiding taking the next steps because you don’t want to lose the sense of possibility and hope? Basking in possibility is a great thing. But you can’t stay there. The difference between being in a state of possibility and being in a state of limbo is the that with the latter, you are letting the uncertainty paralyze you rather than using it as a tool to try new things.  It’s important to see the difference.

We’re all scared of something, we’re all worried about certain outcomes, we’re all fearful of how we’ll deal with particular consequences. But we can’t let that stop us from taking action.

Realize when you’ve moved past dreaming of possibilities and into holding onto the limbo, and take a step forward, no matter how scary.

Lots of love and encouragement,

Nicole Giordano

Nicole is the founder of StartUp FASHION, an online resource and community supporting for independent designers around the world with building their businesses. A deep love for the craft of fashion paired with an adamant belief that success is defined by the individual, led her to found StartUp FASHION, where she helps independent designers and makers screw the traditional fashion business rules, create their own paths, and build businesses they truly love. More than anything else, she’s in the business of encouragement and works every day to remind makers and designers that they have something special to offer the world and that they can, in fact, do this thing!

  1. Nicole Alfonseca

    hi, I’m 18 and just started my first year of college! majoring in an associate’s degree in general business in my community college. Then I am planning on transferring into a fashion design school its something I’ve always wanted and liked….reading your blog makes me hopeful yet doubtful im scared but I want this any advice?

    • Casey Cline

      Hi Nicole- being in a fashion program should help a lot, since you will be networking with other designers, instructors, etc. Business classes are also a great idea so it sounds like you’re on the right track. You may also find the “starting” category on our blog helpful:

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