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Hi, this is Laura Lee Griffin.
And this is Nikki May, with the Startist Society, inspiring you to stop getting in your own way and start building an art biz and life that you love.
We are artists who believe strongly in the power of community, accountability, following your intuition, taking small actionable steps and breaking down the barriers of fear and procrastination that keep you stuck.
Follow along with us on our creative business journey as we encourage you on yours.
Last week, we introduce you to Jennifer Long who is a Riley Blake fabric designer, quilt and doll pattern writer, machine embroidery digitizer and online educator. This week, she’s back to share her five best tips on becoming a fabric designer.
Jen, thanks so much for coming back. What’s your first tip for us?
Thank you for having me back, Laura and Nikki. My first tip is niching. So do not be afraid to lean into your talents, lean into your style. Lean into who you are, and just niche.
Can you give me a lesson on that, Jen? Because I just want to do all the things.
That was rhetorical, right?
Yeah. All right. So what is your second tip for us, Jen?
Never give up. So my second tip would be, don’t let what others say to you, about you, change your course. Don’t waver from what you have in your heart. Once you have decided on your niche, just really stay with it and give it the time that it needs and it deserves. So, don’t blow in the wind and allow yourself to change because of other people or situations. Just really, really stay with where you are, and obviously just be smart about it, but stay where you are and stay on course.
Yeah, if things don’t work out exactly as you planned, as you wanted them to go, that doesn’t mean you can’t still get there. We talked last week in your interview about how you ended up exactly where you should be. But it was not a straight path, it was a very winding road. So don’t let that discourage you.
100%, Nikki, 100%.
So what’s your third tip for us, Jen?
This one might be kind of a funny one, or maybe not a normal one to say to become a fabric designer, but I actually think it’s really, really important: always be kind. Because you just never know what interaction is going to lead to the next thing. It might be a person that’s not in the industry you want to be in that has a connection to the person you want to be in. And so just always being aware of how you portray yourself and how you portray yourself to others. I think is just really, really important. And for me that just goes even further, just always being kind to everybody, even if they’re not kind. I mean, customer service can happen in positive and negative ways. And just always giving people the grace that you want them to give you even if they don’t deserve it. From my early years education, there’s one saying that I always think of and it says children need love the most, especially when they don’t deserve it. And it’s so true. It means that if someone is acting out, that’s when they need a hug. And that’s when you feel like hugging them the least, right, when they’re misbehaving. And I think adults are so much the same. You know, if somebody’s hurting them, they tend to hurt us back. But that’s when they actually need our compassion the most,
When it’s the hardest to give. Yes, yeah. That makes sense. And everything we do is about relationships.
That’s fantastic advice.
All right, and what is your fourth tip for us?
So my fourth tip is to be really, really specific, as specific with your dream goal as you can be. To say the whole thing and like imagine yourself in, not just as the fabric designer, but as the fabric designer doing what kind of fabric in what kind of company at what time of year in what kinds of collections. The more specific you can make that goal, the more real it will feel and more direction you will have for my next step.
And I’ve seen that before where people will literally draft out like a day in my life. Like if I were a fabric designer, from the moment I get up in the morning to the moment that I go to bed, what does that day look like and what is the exact type of style or things that I’m working on, like really getting specific, like you’re saying about what that goal looks like. And maybe that’s a little woowoo a little law of attraction. But I think that I think that can happen.
Well, and I’m absolutely not woo woo, but I love that exercise of writing about or thinking about what your perfect day is. Not just with your work goal, but with your life, because you can’t go after something if you can’t define it.
It actually comes from like, a sports psychology perspective for me. So like in dance, if you’re going to be dancing something on stage, maybe doing like a multiple pirouettes, and it was a tricky spot in, you know, a choreography that you’re going to be doing. They actually teach you how to imagine yourself doing it and doing it well, over and over, because you’re obviously got the role because you can do it. But obviously, it’s difficult. So in live performance, you have to be able to perform in that moment. And so, so then being able to, like, visualize yourself, doing it successfully, I think, well, it’s proven that it can, you know, it helps you on that path to be doing it, to be able to do it successfully. So I think it’s just, I’ve kind of taken that and brought it into fabric.
I love it. And what’s your fifth tip for us?
Set achievable goals and hyper focus on them. Hyper focus on them. So having that really specific, large goal there and seeing yourself in that situation will just naturally give you all the steps that you need to get there. And so it can seem so far in the distance to look so far in advance, even though you are trying to picture yourself in that position. So then setting up all of these staircases, like setting up all these stairs along the way and um…
Breaking down the big goal into smaller, more manageable goals that you can actually picture getting to.
That’s right, right. Yes. And power of checklists. Oh, so excellent. It’s so fun, it’s so satisfying.
Jennifer, thank you so much for coming back and sharing your five tips with us.
It was an absolute pleasure, you guys. Thank you, Laura and Nikki, for your friendship and for this wonderful inspirational podcast you both have.
Well, thank you and you’re welcome. To get a downloadable PDF with Jennifer’s tips and tricks, visit startistsociety.com/fabricdesigntips.
Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next time.
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