In 2014: Resolve to do something that terrifies you

scary_resolutionsOr maybe you’re one of those people who resolve to do the terrifying as a matter of course. If so, we hate you. Nothing personal.

Seriously -when’s the last time you stretched? Comfy in your complacency? Yeah, me too. Comes with age? Gosh I hope not. What is different about the close of this year? For whatever reason, I’ve done (or begun) a few things that terrify me in the last two days, and since it seems to be a theme, I’ll appear holier than thou by saying it was planned and I came through. Ha ha. So fake.

I finally opened a 401K for my business; I feel like a grown up. And sure, you could say I should have done it years ago (anticipated or perceived criticism being one reason we avoid doing what we should) and truth be told, all I did was sign the papers. Mr. Fashion-Incubator (who is off work for 2 weeks) did all of the work. That’s a lesson too—get help with your terrifyingness.

A second terror inducing thing I’ve done is launch a retail pattern line. The official announcement will be the subject of today’s second post. I had a retail pattern line years ago when I first opened my business. It was an abysmal failure. I should qualify that; sales exceeded my wildest short term expectations and I couldn’t scale to meet demand—are you starting to understand why I preach as I do? Been there, done that. In my opinion, if you have a lick of sense, you should expect tepid response and you wouldn’t be disappointed, undermanned or under capitalized. But anyway, I’m hitting the reset on that one. I’m not sure what this pattern line’s theme will be about except that it is whatever I want to put out (although I would be delirious with joy with your suggestions) and that it will studiously avoid the lowest common denominator. No $1.99 patterns or easy ones either. All of my patterns will be hard* and or designed for folks with an IQ of 110+. It’s called Savant Patterns. Re: the name; horrors if I appear to join the cult of chest thumping, self exaltation self marketers, I figure I can use the term legitimately having been diagnosed with autism nearly 15 years ago. I may as well get something out of it.

So how does fear work into that? Insecurity I guess. People are hypercritical out there, MSGs (Mean Sewing Girls) live to criticize and I make a great target. People expect perfection from me if for no other reason than that I expect it from me too. So what will I do differently? I’m not sure yet, it is evolving. There is a rigor to how I do things that is probably not obvious so I aspire to make it so. For example, I keep a bugs list for every style to track problems and issue corrections. It is possible that other retail lines do the same but I’m not privy to it. [Before I forget, anyone will be permitted to use these for manufacturing and no royalties. Yay me.]

But I digress. The summary is that I’m coming off of a marathon work schedule—this is our busiest time of year in the industry so I haven’t been posting much—and even though I took a few days off at Christmas (Mr. F-I disagrees that I did), I’m only starting to come down now. After I write post #2, I’ll pad into the house and warm up some leftovers for dinner and we’ll drink a bottle of wine we’ve saved for a special occasion. Then we’ll probably watch a DVD; DH got Firefly and the first season of Games of Thrones for Christmas. Such is excitement in our part of the world. When I was younger, this would have rankled. I had a set of tails and fish net hose I wore dancing every New Year -that was before I had The Boy. Being older now, it is good. No one close to me is gravely ill. We are all (as far as we know) healthy. We have gainful employment. We have so much to be grateful for. I sincerely hope and wish for you, similar peace and contentment for you and your family as we move into the new year.

PS. Don’t forget to plan to do something terrifying in 2014. Options are boundless —whatever will you do?

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  1. Lisa Blank says:

    Happy New Year, Kathleen. I’m not sure what I can come up with for “terrifying” in 2014, but I’m sure something will present itself.

  2. Melissa says:

    Can I wish you that all your dreams come true in 2014?

    I’ve seen the other post (the one with the jacket) and I loved your description of it!

    I’m growing my little blog, this year, or at least I hope I’ll do it… does it sounds enough terrifying? Not really.. but it’s a big task :)
    Peace to you too (between marathon work schedule, obv!)

    Hugs from Italy,

  3. Andrea_R says:

    Doing scary things this year as well, trying to launch my own line. I’ve been reading for a few months and am going to buy your book and join the forums, right after I get paid. :D

    Firefly and Game of Thrones – sounds like a fun night to me!

  4. RB says:

    I too decided two years ago to stop doing something that I have wanted to get out of for some time and finally did it in Oct! Congratulations to me! Now I have time to focus on MY PROJECTS! And to launch 3 lines that have suffered greatly over the past ten years!

  5. Beth says:

    Thanks for this post. I admire your work and love your suggestion to do something that terrifies as I have quite a list of terrifying things lined up. I will be so proud if I can accomplish at least one of them. Cheers.

  6. Kate R says:

    Happy New Year, Kathleen. Very excited to hear about the pattern line. To my mind, there is a huge lack of INTERESTING tailoring patterns for women – specifically, jackets and coats. There are very few styles around, and those styles are all very boring. I saw Inglorious Basterds on TV the other night and remembered a post you made about the costumes, and specifically Diane Kruger’s yoked jacket. That level of detail and flair in womenswear patterns would really interest me.

  7. Liz says:

    Congratulations on the “scary” pattern line. This will be a nice way of letting us hobby sewers support you.

    I’d love to see some dresses and blouses eventually. I remember your blog posts exploring these, and my daughter and I are on a 1940s kick. Classy dresses would be perfect.

  8. Lin says:

    Congratulations Kathleen! I just recently became a first time mom and it’s terrifying trying to plan a good future for my new baby. Thanks for all your tips and sharing your knowledge and experiences with me!

  9. Kate R says:

    Kathleen, tee hee – yes, but a very wise woman whose word on pattern-making is law as far as I’m concerned has said on numerous occasions that drafting patterns from scratch is a waste of time and, well, I’d rather leave it to the professionals!

  10. Penelope E says:

    Congratulations, Kathleen! I’m looking forward to posts on the daily realities of running your own brand. I’d love to see some jackets that have plenty of big-boob tolerance, perhaps with stretch side-panels.

  11. Susan Hardwick says:

    I, too, am going to do something terrifying…I am going to launch my baby blanket line after two years of agonizing…fear…as you say in your book is my biggest obstacle. Mainly I fear that I don’t know what I am doing and if their is a better or more economical way to do this. I haven’t joined the forum to discuss my concerns because I have been unwilling to commit to this project, but 2014 is the year. How do I sign up for the forums?

  12. Olivia says:

    Hi Kathleen, it’s been a very long time since I visited as I have been caring from my grandmother (whom is actually pretty much my real mother having bought me up), she was diagnosed with cancer not long after I last spoke to you via email and after chemo and several surgeries we were told at Xmas that it is the most aggressive cancer they’ve ever seen and she only has a few weeks possibly a couple of months left. Thus, I have been kept a long way from the internet. But I checked into my emails this evening and noticed the link to this post and straight away felt sick…. Kathleen, I think I mentioned to you before that I had started studying my diploma in fashion design, I am studying through open colleges art and design/college of fashion design here in Australia, online. At first I was SO SO very excited to be learning all the pattern drafting/technical drawing/sewing etc… But then one day I just woke up with this really (REALLY) dark, heavy cloud over me, literally covering and practically suffocating me every day since… It’s been about 6 months now (aprox.) and the emotion/feeling that came along with it was this; I only started studying fashion design (which had been an absolute dream of mine since childhood but I’d never felt talented or intelligent enough to pursue it) when I was 29 after finally escaping a dv relationship of many years. I thought why not?! At that stage the fact that I was pursuing a brand new career just on 30 didn’t actually bother me all that much to be honest, when I studied law/psych at uni many years prior there were learners in their 80’s! I loved that! But when I first started my diploma in applied fashion design & technology I started on-campus and there was not ONE single person older than me (oops! That’s an outright lie!- there was a really lovely lady in her 40/50’s, but she left about 2 weeks in due to the rudeness and bullying from all the 18-21 year old school leavers that saturated every corner of the class studio, that and because, like me, she found the fact that we were given 5 minutes to learn each new skill such as different types of hems/steps in drafting etc… before quickly moving onto the next step whether you’d finished/succeeded or not! -in fact my pattern making teacher actually expressed her great concern at trying to stuff such a huge amount of content into such a very short time frame, she stated that we were certainly not getting the time-teacher-student ratio that we should and, lo and behold by week 6 there were only 12 out of 40 students left, by the end of the year- only 7 remained.

    I digress, what I was saying was that I also left because of the rudeness and bullying (I am not very good socially when I am nervous and stressed- and certainly since this nasty experience I rarely leave the house- I suffer PTSD, depression & panic attacks and this has sent me into many months of depression and self esteem depletion. I swapped to off campus/online through a different provider and although 10 x more expensive at $11,000 I believed it was worth it even on a disability pension because it was my dream. So I plugged away at paying the $150 per week and now just over half way through the time limit for course completion I literally cannot make myself move because this dark cloud has bought upon me the feeling that I am too old to be trying to study for the next 3-5 years and then expect to get a job in the industry… I KNOW that people older than me will probably be insulted by this- and I do not mean to cause any sort of negativity, the weird thing is- I don’t feel like this about anyone else besides myself! In Australia doing your bachelor of fashion after completing your diploma would certainly give u greater access to job opportunities and I would love to study my bachelor starting mid 2014 meaning I’d be finished perhaps by 34? But I keep being blocked, not able to even start studying at my diploma a again right now as I keep thinking- who’s going to hire a 34 year old at entry level? I’m 10 years behind everyone else!

    I’m sorry if you think this is a stupid thing to be terrified of but I am, I am so sngry at myself for wasting all those precious years building a home for a man who took everything from me, and would still happily take more if I went back and let him, but there’s actually no more to take- I’m drained dry, I have no self belief. I am starting to see a therapist to try and ‘unblock’ myself lol but I don’t have more years to waste, I either need to bite the bullet & charge forward into the fashion industry (the love of my life) or go back to my trade of hairdressing and at least know I have job security. I cannot do both at once as I am just the sort of person who has to choose one and ilgive that thing my all. The reason I am writing to you (and I genuinely hope I have not just annoyed you terribly), is because you KNOW all there is to KNOW! (About this industry)… Do you think I’m fooling myself at 30 to be studying and starting a new career in some area of the fashion industry? Do you think I would have less promising or simply no job prospects in the industry given what my age will be (34 aprox.) when I finally graduate, were the younger students at tech correct when they teased me for even being there?

    I am so very confused which has led to very bad depression Kathleen, and I WANT to do my ‘terrifying thing’ but don’t want to lead myself down the garden oath at great personal, emotional and financial pain & loss.

    I would just respect your opinion SO, SO very much:)
    Warmest regards,
    Olivia ;) xo

  13. Ina says:

    Thank you for the motivational “kick in the butt” post!
    This is the year I show the husband that this “sewing thing” is a viable business. I think he kind of got an idea during the holiday seeing rolls of fabric and such lining the hallway to the workroom. “How much work do you do?” he asks. This is not the first time he is seeing this, but he is actually paying attention now.
    Look forward to completing quite a few “scary firsts” this year!

  14. Karen J says:

    @Olivia ~ {{{Olivia}}} = Great-Big-Gentle Hugs from across the ocean and across the internet…
    you certainly have a lot of heavy-duty stuff on your plate these days!

    Bright Blessings to you ~
    and consider this: “Not Now doesn’t have to mean Never!”

  15. Paula Hudson says:

    Kathleen, the hardest decision I made in 2013 was that in January, February 2014 at the latest, I would fulfill all my sewing/costuming obligations and put that away to pursue my heart need to write again. I published six fiction novels quite a long time ago, but long story short, put that away to go to college and pursue some other life needs/goals. But writing has always been the song that sings in my soul, and I have let fear keep me preoccupied with other things for too long. The “problem” is that I love sewing, and I’m very good at it. I’ve enjoyed all my costuming. For grins and giggles, you can see the costumes I did for world champion powerhouses Gary McIntyre and Susan Kirklin at – Not that this is amazing costuming… just that I have reached a level of which I’m very proud. Gary is also my coach, and I made my dress and modified a real Navy dress white for Gary in my recent showcase… I’m not even in same atmospheric orbit as far as talent!!! But I’m very proud all around … … ANYWAY… I’ll continue to dance, and costume for myself and a very select few people, but I’m going to put away fear and tackle fiction again. I’ll always stay on here, and stay on top of tips and techniques because I’ll never not sew, but I have to put away my (albeit very small) entree into sewing entrepreneurship. Should things go swimmingly, and I get to quit the day job, I may go back to a dual life of writing and sewing, but as long as I have the ‘day job,’ I just can’t. Anyway, maybe more information that you wanted, but I’m very scared/excited, and look forward to what 2014 has in store!! (With that said, I can’t wait for your pattern for a structured blazer as I’ll be getting that in a NY minute!) And I don’t want “easy,” either. I’m ready for a F-I challenge! I won’t say “best of luck” to you, because I don’t want to insult the incredible amount of hard work you have invested, as well as the incredible well of your talent which you are sharing. I will wish you every good thing and enormous success (however you define that!!!).

    Best, Paula

  16. Hallo Olivia,

    Many of us have been through something similar and if you join the forum you’ll see many members making a midlife career switch or even moving into business as they approach retirement. So it’s not too late.

    If you aren’t taking meds, talk to your doctor. You might think that you should be able to handle all this on your own but I can tell you that “all this” is a lot easier to handle if you aren’t worried about falling apart. Make use of all your resources, even the ones that feel like cheating.


  17. Kathleen says:

    Olivia, In spite of your very significant challenges, I’m thinking how truly fortunate you are. You know what you want to be or do when you “grow up” and you have the liberty to pursue that. Some people never know. As far as being older than others, you’re going to get older anyway. You’ll still be 34. Do you want to be 34 and doing what you want or 34 and still living with the ghost of a dream deferred?

  18. Olivia says:

    Hi everybody;) I have only just had time to check back in… Wow! That was an incredibly long post- probably something I should have saved for the therapists office lol! Thank you for taking it so well ladies;) thank you as well for your internet *hugs* and very true advice.
    Kathleen, you are SO, SO right! I am incredibly lucky! I live in a fantastic country with amazing resources and you are just so spot on!
    I also read that you have started your own pattern line- how amazing! I wish you the very best of luck xx

  19. sarina says:

    i have not seen a more inspiring and useful site than yours, kathleen. you have given women like me a Dream – i hope you have all the success in the world; i dont doubt that it will be immensely popular, i just wish you all the best wishes in the world to manage well your success.

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