Today’s Biz Ladies post comes to us from scarf designer Amber Kane. Amber first found a love for textile soon after graduating with her degree in Arts Education. But only after a whirlwind couple of years would she jump back into working with her loom and creating her own line of scarves. Today she shares a bit about how she gained the confidence to promote her business. Thank you Amber for offering us your insights! –Stephanie
Read the full post after the jump…
You thought about starting and then you didn’t.
You considered sharing your new product , but quickly hit delete instead of post.
You have page after page of ideas saved on your computer, but you can’t seem to hit the publish key.
What if no one likes it, what if you’re laughed at, what if there’s no response at all?
I’m a bit embarrassed to admit this, but when I first started designing scarves, someone would stop me, tell me that they loved my scarf, I would say thank you and walk away… (correction, run away. ) Yes that’s right, I wouldn’t tell them that I was the designer, let alone tell them where they could buy one.
My husband would stand in awe, “ really Amber, you didn’t even tell them that you design them? How do you ever expect to start a business if you don’t tell anyone what you do?”
If you wanted a scarf from me , you would need to hunt me down and tackle me…. and you would need to be a fast runner.
A Few of the excuses that I said to myself and my husband:
“ I didn’t want to be too salesy. “
“ What if people hate them?”
They aren’t good enough.”
Whether you’re selling a product or a service, you’ve run the above dialogue though your mind thousands of times, so how do you get to the other side? How do you go from fear to confidence?
1. Get clear on your value: If you aren’t clear on why you and or your work is important to the world, you’re going to have trouble talking to others. I didn’t share my work in the beginning because I felt like a sleazy sales person. Once I was clear on the value of my work, it was easy. It stopped being about selling and started being about helping.
When determining the value that your product or service brings to the world, ask yourself:
- How does my product or service improve my customers life?
- What problem is my product or service solving for my client or customer?
- How will my customer or client use my product or service?
In the beginning I thought that I was simply making cool scarves, however, as I listened to my customers I realized it was much more. They were purchasing the scarves because they made everything in their closet look better, they were easy to wear, made them feel good, and were great conversation starters.
Understanding the value of my product was the biggest change in how I spoke about my work. I stopped running away from customers after I reframed, and realized that it wasn’t about selling a “cool scarf”, instead it was about adding value to their lives. It felt good to give women a go to accessory, a piece that made them feel better about themselves, and that helped them feel comfortable when they walked into the room.
I started talking about my work, when the conversation changed from simply being about a scarf, to being about a way of life.
It was no longer about sales, it was about being helpful.
2. Imagine and practice: You’re your own worst enemy. Start imagining situations where you should be talking about your work, what you should say, and practice saying it. Once you get comfortable talking about your work it will get a lot easier.
When people complimented me on my work, I ran away, partly because I wasn’t prepared for the compliments. The only thing that remotely would come to mind, was “thanks, I sell them. “ I wish I could say that it only took a few weeks for me to figure out how to respond, but it was a much longer process, and one that developed from watching, listening, and getting honest with myself.
The idea of selling scarves, just to sell scarves didn’t excite me, I wanted to make an impact. However, as I watched and listened to the women wearing the scarves, I realized that a much larger story was unfolding than I had imagined. Women put the scarves on and their faces lit up, they felt better about themselves, stood taller, and were almost giddy with the compliments that followed.
I realized that I was excited about sharing these stories, so when someone told me that they loved my scarf, I responded, thank you, I’m the designer, handed them a card, and explained, “My goal is for every women to have at least one piece in their closet that makes them feel special, beautiful and confident.”
3. Be clear on whose opinion matters: No matter who you are and what you have to offer, some people are going to love it and some are going to hate it. Get clear on whose opinion matters and why, focus on those voices and ignore the rest.
There are some people that are likely to never understand your work, and that’s okay. A large part of taking in both the compliments and the critiques is understanding the story of the person saying them. Instead of getting angry, respond with empathy, do your best to understand where the comment is coming from.
4. Step outside of yourself: We’re great at thinking that everyone else is rockin’ it and that everyone is staring at us. Guess what, that’s not true. The more business women you talk to , the more you’ll discover they’re all afraid, but choose to move forward anyway. It’s likely that you’re the only one holding the spotlight on yourself. Even if you do “fail”, everyone is more worried about what they’re doing to notice.
Over the summer I dove head first into my first trade show – really head first. I did New York Now without ever even walking a trade show. I was watching people around me write order after order and feeling pretty bad about myself, as it became clear that I was going to lose money this show. It looked like everyone else knew a secret that I didn’t. As the show progressed neighboring vendors stopped by, said hello, and shared the story of their first trade. The stories were filled with memories of no orders or simply one order, and everyone leaving their first show in the red. It’s all about perception.
5. Don’t be selfish: The world needs what you have to offer, and keeping it a secret because you’re unsure or afraid is selfish. This might seem harsh, but really we need you, and your talents, no one else has them! You have a unique perspective, opinion, point of view, and it’s exactly what someone needs to hear.