If you want to be a writer, you have to write. If you want to be a dancer, you have to dance. If you want to be a CEO, you have to run a business. But more than that—you’re going to have to be ok with writing poorly, dancing awkwardly, and bootstrapping your way through hell.
Two years ago when Mixed first launched, I was sewing facemasks in my pajamas. (Never mind clothing—that didn't feel anywhere near the realm of possibility for me.) Back then, my patterns weren’t repeats, the elastics weren’t adjustable, the sewing was shoddy, and I shipped out orders in manila envelopes. MANILA ENVELOPES! I cringe at those early memories and yet, those clunky moments brought me here. You can’t wait for perfect. Because perfect doesn’t just happen all of a sudden one day. It’s an ideal we continuously reach for while putting in many, many reps.
But hypocritically, I’m finding myself waiting for perfect now. I don’t have the same “fuck it” energy I did when I was starting out. Probably because back then, I felt like I had nothing to lose. There was no brand, no community, no expectation. Now everything feels too precious. The gap between where Mixed is today and the grand visions I have for the future have trapped me in a state of paralysis. Which is why you might have noticed I’ve gone a little quiet lately…
As Mixed shifts from the sparkly, light-heartedness of an unplanned-covid era born-passion project to a real business, daunting questions arise. Can I manage cashflow as I grow the business? Can I establish a successful brand with prints that are recognizable years down the line? Can Mixed hold a place in culture? In fashion? What happens if I sink years into this and it doesn't work out? Mixed is not the shabby home operation it once was. We have an international supply chain, a studio in Brooklyn, people who expect professionalism. The business is changing and I’m questioning if I’m able to change and grow with it. But while my head is in the clouds pondering these mighty questions and wondering what the future holds, I’m freaking myself out of doing any work, and then loathing myself for not getting shit done. As Cheryl Strayed would say, “you’re up too high and down too low. Neither is the place where we get any work done.”
We don’t get work done by dreaming of grandiose success. And we don’t get work done by loathing ourselves so much so that we can’t bear to get out of bed. We get work done by simply doing work. By sending the email, designing the print, packing the order, posting the story, writing the newsletter—imperfectly, but consistently. Even when we don’t want to. Especially then.
The beginnings of things are often light, exciting, fun. You get all sorts of encouraging feedback from friends and everything feels new and interesting. But as things mature—be it a business, a relationship or that book you’re writing—things get heavier, less sexy and more difficult. Doing the work gets harder. Seth Godin calls this period The Dip.
“The Dip is the long slog between starting and mastery. The Dip is the difference between the easy “beginner” technique and the more useful “expert” approach in fashion design. The Dip is the long stretch between beginner’s luck and real accomplishment.”
I'm in The Dip. It doesn't feel great. But the good news is that all things worth doing encounter The Dip. So, if you find yourself there, congratulations—you’re doing something worthwhile that’s making you stretch. But The Dip is not a place to merely survive, it's an opportunity to rise to the occasion, work harder and reach for the other side.
Welcoming the next chapter of Mixed means pushing forward a new me. I’m feeling lots of potential energy stirring inside me now as we prepare to launch S22, our third collection, next month. (Our last collection came out in November, which feels like ages ago…because it was.) Moving forward, we’re planning to release new collections every two months and I’m putting in the work now to make that possible. It feels like I’m revving up my wheels before the start of a race, waiting for the light to turn green so I can take off.
But until then—it’s back to the unsexy, cold, hard work.