Being Naive Helped Me Start My Own Activewear Label When I Was 18
Looking back, I thought I knew more.
Being naive was my best asset three years ago.
I had just finished highschool and began my studies in interior design and styling. Here I was, actually told that my designs were too colorful and too bright for modern day. I knew, however, that they were perfect for the trends that were about to hit, so instead of believing my teachers, I believed in myself and had one of my surface designs printed onto a pair of workout tights; and so it begun.
I founded my activewear label, Tone Fitness Apparel on a whim, when I was 18 years old.
I started with a small Instagram account using social media to communicate with and attract my target audience, and everything grew from there. I made it look as professional as I possibly could online, while only having a limited budget. This wasn’t easy, but back then, it was much more achievable than it would be now.
In 2014, when my label was established, #fitspiration was at its peak. Healthy lifestyle pages were everyone’s obsession, but I saw a gap in the market. Hand-designed, quality, affordable activewear was hard to find. I wanted women to be able to feel confident while working out, but without breaking the budget in the process.
When I saw that people actually liked my designs and were willing to spend money on them, I decided to take the ultimate plunge, and converted my parent’s garage into my own studio. I was extremely fortunate to have their support and experience in the importing business.
Being so young, I had a lot to learn about the industry when I first naively dived into it, but what I lacked in fashion knowledge I made up for with passion, enthusiasm and being typically Gen Y social media savvy. Really, I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. Why wouldn’t I go for it?
Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to travel interstate and internationally with my label, sharing my love for health and fitness with others who have the same passion. This year, my brand reached new heights when we had the honor to showcase our new collection at Sydney Fashion Week – it was such a buzz.
The first few months of business were tough, though, and honestly, very overwhelming. I started with this huge vision, which gave me this big expectation, even if it was just subconscious. This is where my naiveté really helped; because looking back, I thought I knew more than I clearly did at the time. I thought it would be easier and that business success was more of an overall decision, rather than the result of carefully acquired knowledge and experience in the field.
I was naive to how competitive the industry would become statistically, and I was naive not to think ahead. I based my plan to be successful around how the fitness and health industry was then, in 2014, without thinking about the future too much.
In this fast-paced world, though, things evolve – including trends, ideas, technology and innovation. This meant I had to keep up, and I didn’t realize how difficult it could be in a competitive business.
I was listening to motivational speakers, including Tony Robbins for anything that would help me get a leg up in an industry I was already swimming way too deep in to quit on. With all of his theories constantly floating around my head, one motivational quote in particular stuck. It was, “Where focus goes, energy flows’” This gave me direction and was the way my business and personal goals were being ticked off.
At 18 years of age, there’s only so much you can know. There’s only so much you could have experienced, and there’s only so much wisdom you can have. But if you hold a deep passion, and you write down on a piece of paper exactly what you want to achieve, I believe you’re truly unstoppable.
I stuck to my vision, and I stuck to my goals.
When I started, I gave myself 10 years to achieve my goals, and I’m happy to say, after just three, I have them all crossed off my list.
My biggest tip for any start-up or young entrepreneur is, remember why you started and never let yourself forget it. Keep working harder, hustle until you reach your goal, and then keep going!
Thinking about 18 year-old me now actually makes me laugh. I wasn’t only trying to find our brand’s identity, but at 18, I was definitely still looking for my own.
I have evolved with my label in many ways. Challenges that we’ve faced as a company in the years since I first launched it in my parents’ garage have definitely made me stronger, more independent, and more driven. Being out of my comfort zone regularly has made me grow as a person, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.
I’m so grateful for my youth, and my naivety. It gave me the courage to start something the older, wiser me may have been too fearful to.
Images supplied by Tone Fitness Apparel
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