Fashion Business Owner Musings: Vulnerability and when it’s not about you

Vulnerability is difficult. Admitting that you don’t know what to say or what to do in a certain circumstance, is challenging. You don’t want to hurt people. And at the same time, you’re scared you’ll do or say something that opens you up to ridicule and backlash.

Whether you’re based in America or not, you likely know what has been happening in this country (for hundreds of years, not just this week) in terms of systemic racism.

I, a white woman, am not an expert on this topic. For expertise follow: Rachel Rodgers, and Rachel Cargle ,and Erica Courdae.

But to say “I’m not an expert” and then become silent, is not OK.

To BIPOC designers, I am listening and learning and taking action.

As a white business owner, it’s important that I acknowledge something: it’s not about me.

It’s about what Black people and other People of Color need. And they need us, white people, to stop being silent and complicit.

What I’m about to say next is not to detract from the issue. It’s my attempt to discuss the challenges I know many of you as business owners face around fear of losing everything vs. doing what’s right.

I’m writing this in hopes of helping those of you who are not sure what to do, to make the decision to do what’s right, even when it scares you. In the words of Rachel Rodgers, to be “unequivocal”.

What does it mean to be a business owner and be unequivocal?

It means we leave no doubt in the minds of our followers, customers, supporters, and team members, as to where we stand and what we believe.

It means that we don’t allow our fear of losing said followers, customers, supporters, and team members stop us from doing and saying what’s right.

It means that we speak up about what’s right and don’t mourn the unsubscribes and un-follows.

And when we screw up (because we will), we apologize, acknowledge our mistake, and learn how to do better.

How do we learn how to do better?

We educate ourselves.

We join platforms like The Great Unlearn.

We listen, pay attention, read the posts, watch the videos, and commit to more than a few graphics on Instagram stating our solidarity.


We find ways to use our platforms and our privilege to elevate People of Color in a world that when not ignoring them, hurts and kills them.

Here’s the thing, when we feel vulnerable, our tendency is to shut down. To be quiet. To get out of the way.

That’s because we’re uncomfortable, worried, and fearful.

But guess what?

As business owners, we have been practicing the skill of doing what needs to be done, even when we’re uncomfortable, worried, and fearful, since the beginning of our businesses.


We need to apply that same tenacity to our commitment to doing our part to end systemic racism.

We can’t ignore, out of fear, what is our responsibility to do.

If you are a white business owner, I hope that this week has caused you to pause and think. To listen. To learn. To do better.

I know it has for me.

Lots of love, encouragement, and unequivocal support for the BIPOC community,

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!