A great thing to learn in this industry is to say “No”. Now there are many was to say no, and it is very important that you figure out how to say it and when the appropriate time is to use it! As a designer, and more so as a business owner you will be waiting for that, ever desired, only dreamed about, “Chance”. Unfortunately, since we are new to the industry, any chance, especially our first chance, can be misinterpreted as “The Chance”. So what do we do? We get excited that someone finally paid attention to us and we jump at the chance, promising anything and everything…even if the reality is far from doable. Lesson one, learn to say no if you are not in the position to fulfill this chance both efficiently and in a way worthy of your name to be placed on it. This is your reputation on the line and there is only one chance for a first impression. If you rush to throw anything you can onto the runway or in front of a review board, and it turns out to be shameful, that is forever how you will be remembered. It is better to say, no and wait till you have a strong collection to present, one that you are proud of. There will be another chance and most people will respect your decision. This is a big test more seasoned designers and companies will try on you, they want to see just how desperate you are and if you are willing to scramble just to have something to call your own. I repeat to young designers a lesson I was taught all through my Equestrian career, “there will be many distances you see before the jump, but don’t take the first distance you see. It normally isn’t the correct one. Wait it out until you are both ready and you will clear the jump” Wait until you and your collection are ready. When the time comes to say no, it is all about the tone of voice. You obviously want to be confident and respectful and let the people you are addressing know that your reason for saying no is due to the fact you are not to that stage of the game, not that you are ill prepared or not confident in the fact that you could do this. I have definitely pulled my fair share of things together last minute and sometimes it turns out better than I could have ever expected. Then other times it was a waste of my time, their time and all of my resources. This is what we call a learning experience. I was warned and I did it anyway, but I am now smarter and more resourceful in achieving last minute tasks and I have learned my limits to what I can achieve at this point of my career. Know yourself, know your situation and know your company. Although being cautious is definitely the safest choice, remember that saying “no” is just as much as risk as saying yes. Have a balance in your decision-making. Allow yourself to tap into that risk taking, entrepreneurial part of your mind and consider the benefits of pushing the limits. It can lead to success. You cannot be sacred of failure to be in this business, or really, you can’t be scared of failure in life. If you don’t fail at least once a day, even in the most minute way, you are not learning. Think of it this way, you have already taken one of the biggest risks you’ll ever take, you have started your own business. Take a minute to realize just how big of a decision that was and how far you have come just from that moment. It’s easy to forget that initial fear and jump ahead of yourself. One last thing before I say adieu. Standing up for yourself; I will touch on this briefly, but I will go into this subject more thoroughly later. There is a time and a place for everything and there will be a time when you will need to say “no” to the disrespect you will encounter in this industry. Trust me I say you’ll know when this time comes, and it will be a life changing experience. You will go from a newbie designer, searching for their break anyway they can… to a designer who isn’t afraid to say “no” and shows a respect for themselves and their brand. Mama Bear status, don’t you let people swat your baby on the head and tell you its ugly. If you love what you are creating, don’t be afraid to defend it. Again do this RESPECTFULLY!