Talking about : Transparency

My working pace has slowed down as the end of the year fast approaches, and the pace of my personal life has increased as I madly get prepared for Christmas (I left it to the last minute as usual). So there will be no new tutorials until the new year. I wanted to take this opportunity to post about something a little different today, giving you a little peak at what is going on behind the scenes at In the Folds (and chat about the potential of hearing a little bit more in the future).

I am spending a lot of time at the moment thinking about transparency, and it's place in business. Specifically, its place in my business. When I had the crazy (but great) idea to go into business, transparency was something I really wanted ingrained in my practice. Transparency about my thoughts, values and processes (and maybe even more).

Though, that is much easier said than done. Six months into my business venture, and I have revealed very little about what really goes on on a daily basis (okay, there was the time I told you I was eating rice cakes for dinner on instagram). There has been no sign of the struggles (and there have been many), the thought processes or even the small wins (and thankfully there have been a few of those too) that have come along the way. 

So that is what I'd like to talk about today - transparency, why I think it's important, why I haven't been very transparent (yet) and who inspires me in this particularly conversation. 

What do I mean by 'transparency'?

When I use the term 'transparency,' I am referring to a business model in which I would be open about what is going on at In the Folds HQ, in terms of processes, practices, thoughts (and maybe even finances), in the hope that my journey could help or inspire others who are on a similar journey (or those that would like to be on a similar journey, or are just interested in other peoples stories).

Why I haven't been transparent (yet)?

I guess there is a few reasons why I haven't been as open or transparent as I initially planned:

1. Number one has to be fear. When my business was an imaginary thing, the idea of opening it up to the world for judgement and scrutiny seemed totally fine. Now that it is a thing (albeit a very small thing), exposing myself on that level terrifies me a little (okay, okay, it terrifies me a lot).

2. Time is another huge reason why I have avoided a more transparent business model. I have not had the time to think about how I would like to do it, let alone actually do it. 

3. And the last thing that has been on my mind, when debating this concept internally, is concern that it will have a negative impact on my business. Will people judge me negatively if they know what my business looks like on the inside (as surprise surprise, my world doesn't really resemble the lovely shininess of my Instagram feed)? This is not to say that my business has any dirty little secrets! Just the reality that social media feeds are curated, and life is not! Which is something we all obviously know, but it is really easy to fall in love with the fantasy.

Why I would like to be more transparent

So now that I have highlighted the cons of introducing more transparency to my business, let's talk about the pros, and why it is on my mind at the moment. 

I just love businesses that are transparent about their processes. And I have learned so much from other entrepreneurs and small business owners opening their doors. I feel it is important to share some of that love and add something to the collective learning pool and conversation. 

I am constantly energised and inspired by other peoples stories, and it is often what keeps me going, particularly at the times when I am feeling low, or totally alone on this crazy journey. It is on my mind at the moment, as fantastic examples just keep on popping up around me.

Who inspires me?

Bjork + Lindsay Ostrom - Pinch of Yum / Food Blogger Pro

Although many businesses are now embracing transparency - which is absolutely fantastic, the first business that really stood out for me in this area is Pinch of Yum. If you know of this blog, you will know that it has absolutely nothing to do with sewing. It is a cooking blog. But the way they share (Lindsay and her husband, Bjork) the ins and outs of their business is truly inspiring. They publish a monthly income report, which details the ins and outgoings of the business, but it is not a way to show how successful they are (although they are very successful) but a tangible way to see where their income and traffic comes from, and how they have managed to grow these numbers, since the very early days. I was first introduced to the blog when I heard Bjork interviewed on the 'While She Naps' podcast by Abby Glassenberg, and was instantly mesmerised by his openness and frankness about growing a business. I was also very interested in his idea of '1% to infinity,' which has definitely become my business motto since hearing it mentioned. It was such a relief to hear someone say that the steps you take don't have to be massive, for you to see progress over time. Just keep moving forward each day, even if you are only improving by 1% each day, over time the improvement grows exponentially. That to me, makes perfect sense, and is something very tangible I can use to keep my business growing. Bjork also has his own podcast now, which although mainly focuses on guests from the realm of food, I find very interesting and relevant to my life as a small business owner in the online world.

Heather Lou - Closet Case Files - 'Make Boss' series

In the sewing world, there are some bloggers who show snippets of what goes on behind the scenes. I love the 'Make Boss' series by Heather Lou of Closet Case Files. These days I have very little time to read blogs, but I must say that I always take the time to read these posts when they pop up in my Bloglovin' feed. And I literally inhale them, and find so much of the information relevant to my journey. I loved this recent post, when Heather Lou discussed all the thought (and work, of course) that went into designing the cover art of her newly released paper patterns. This is true testament to how much thought goes into decisions like this. 

Start Up podcast by Gimlet Media

Over the last couple of weeks I have become totally addicted to the Start Up podcast. I have no idea how I didn't know of this podcasts existence (because I am an avid listener of the other Gimlet Media podcasts), but somehow I missed the memo. When it was mentioned twice in one day, by two different people, I knew it was time to play catch up. And boy, did I play catch up. I finished the first season in two days. And in another two, I was totally up-to-date. Which is sad, because I was absolutely loving binging on this incredible podcast.

Okay, back to the point (I am beginning to sound like a groupie), listening to a first hand account of starting a business, was absolutely fantastic. Hearing that many of the feelings I have had, were consistent with others, made me feel a little less alone in this venture. Obviously there are many differences between starting a huge podcasting company or an online dating company, and me, starting a business from my teeny tiny studio, but I was also surprised by how many similarities there are.

Reyna Lay Designs Podcast

I also stumbled upon the Reyna Lay Designs podcast recently (what can I say, I am a podcast addict) and was so heartened to hear her interview with Elisalex from By Hand London. She was so candid and honest, really laying out the struggles of what it is like to be an independent pattern designer. I had been following Elisalex on Intagram and on the By Hand London blog, but this interview just revealed much more of the story. There are many more great interviews in the archives, but this is the one that stood out for me.

These are a few things I have been following for a while, but transparency has once again come to the forefront of mind lately for a number of reasons.

Why now?

So why, after six months of business am I talking about this now? Firstly, 2015 is coming to an end, so with that I am consolidating my thoughts about the year. What worked? What didn't? What needs improvement? And also start thinking about 2016 and what my goals are for the new year.

I think 2015 was about me just getting this business started and releasing my first pattern. Hopefully 2016 is about building on that foundation, but also bringing much more into the mix, and creating the kind of business that I dream of.

Over to you lovely people!

So, what I am wondering dear readers, are you interested in knowing what goes on back here behind the sewing machine and the screen? Or are you thinking as you read this, 'No, no, no, I just want tutorials!' (which is totally fine) I am still not sure exactly how I would like it to look, but before I put pen to paper, I'd love to know if anyone is even interested in listening?