Episode 9: The Perfect Fail

In this episode, Isaac talks about those experiences in every business where no matter what you do to prepare, things can just go south. He also interviews two very experienced women who have encountered major failures in their businesses—Jenny Hart and Lela Barker—and dives into how they cope with failure, what kinds of lessons they learn, and how they keep failure from breaking them down.

You can do everything right and still flop. I’m just going to say it: SHIT HAPPENS. Failure is inevitable—it’s what you do *after* you fail that makes all the difference. Will you learn, lean in, and emerge triumphant? Will you own your failure and acknowledge your mistakes and missteps? Or will you wallow in self-pity and embarrassment and let the F word own your life?

As business owners and especially as creatives, there’s a lot of perfect posturing that can creep into our lives. We like to think we’re on top of things, that we can handle it all, and that we need to outwardly portray our business-owning lives as having our shit together and making it rain. Social media only exacerbates this feeling by encouraging us to show only the glamorous side of our creative lives. Everything is perfect, everything is staged. Hashtag blessed.

Pull back the curtain, and you see an entirely different story. We leave out the real and focus on what will make us look good. I will be the first to tell you I am no stranger to this. A few weeks ago I posted a photo of our living room that had people swooning. In the days that followed, friends and followers said to me, “oh my god your house is perfect, how do you live like that?” Oh honey, that’s the joy of social media! What that photo didn’t tell you is that I had spent the previous four hours busting my butt to clean up all the dog hair, dirt, and clutter that had amassed over the last several weeks to get ready for family to come visit. That snapshot of the perfectly staged, intentionally designed living room is nothing more than how I want you to think I live and how I wish I could live. The reality is far from it.

We often encounter the same attitude toward our failures—gloss them over, pretend they never happened, or never tell a soul. Pull back the curtain, though, and you’ll find that every business owner encounters failures, and every creative lives with the things that didn’t work, that didn’t pan out. But if we don’t see each other’s failures, we can’t cope together, we can’t power through, we can’t support each other. If we all pretend like these failures don’t happen, they’ll eat at you, gnaw at your self-esteem, hamper your productivity, make you hesitant to take risks, and they’ll beget imposter syndrome.

But I’m here to help. Two weeks ago I was at Craftcation, a business and makers conference in Ventura, California with over 400 creative, crafty, energetic people. You can bet I jumped at the opportunity to pin down some amazing creative minds to share some big failures that they’ve encountered in their own business journeys as a way of saying, “Look. Shit happens to all of us.”

Episode Guests

Jenny Hart founded Sublime Stitching in 2001 as a new model for embroidery design and resources. She first began working in hand embroidery in the summer of 2000, creating non-traditional embroidered portraits of the famous and infamous in a traditional style of American hand embroidery. Recognizing a need to update and expand embroidery design commercially led to the launch of Sublime Stitching a year later. Since then, Jenny has become an internationally recognized fine artist and designer with works appearing in Vogue, Nylon, Lucky, Rolling Stone, The Face, Juxtapoz, The New York Times Magazine and others. She is an award-winning author of seven titles on embroidery for Chronicle Books, and her drawings and works in embroidery have been exhibited and published internationally. In 2012, Hart's embroidered work La Llorona became a part of the permanent collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Jenny lives in Los Angeles, California.

When it comes to teaching creatives how to build an empire, Lela Barker has a simple philosophy: beneath every successful maker lies a solid business foundation. As the founder of Bella Lucce, an award-winning international beauty brand distributed through 1,300 spas and the mind behind Lucky Break Consulting, Lela is wildly passionate about helping creative entrepreneurs bring their products into the marketplace. Drawing on more than a decade of experience as a successful maker, Lela’s magic lies in distilling complicated business concepts down to their essence, especially in the areas of product pricing, brand development and wholesale strategy. She’s seen firsthand the power of nailing down these important facets of business as creatives strive to build sustainable brands that ignite their passion, put food on the table and make the world a more beautiful place. Lela’s products and personal story have been featured in more than ninety print publications worldwide and her “LBU: Secrets to Wholesale Success” program sells out within days each time registration opens, welcoming emerging entrepreneurs from Australia to California. She teaches frequently, from conference rooms in Austria to cruise ships in the Caribbean and mud huts in Africa and *almost* everywhere in between. When not arming makers with tactical business approaches, you’ll find Lela collecting passport stamps, perfecting the ultimate lemon meringue pie and clinging tightly to her sanity while raising four children. She believes in girl power, second chances, fab shoes and dark chocolate. Lela lives in South Carolina with her family and a small army of pets.