JENNA LYONS ON BEING OBSESSED WITH FASHION

JENNA LYONS & MEG BIRAM

Last night Jenna Lyons came to DC for an event at the J.Crew store in Georgetown. The event was a private event where only J.Crew shoppers were invited. It wasn’t a media event. The local magazines didn’t even know about it — it was literally for customers. Luckily I am a J.Crew customer so I was invited (the Georgetown store is just down the street from my studio so I’m there frequently!).

I think the local media was shocked because no one knew about the event. I was getting emails and texts from editors and bloggers like What the heck is this event!?!? and OMG JENNA LYONS!!!

The idea that J.Crew would stay completely in house, no local PR company running the event, and only invite shoppers, was genius! First of all, because people actually SHOPPED. And they were so genuinely excited to meet Jenna and just happy to be there. To people who aren’t media and don’t attend tons of events — this was super exciting. And I thought it made the event really special. Like, J.Crew didn’t care about getting any media for the event, they just wanted to interact with DC shoppers. So good.

They had a photo booth (one of the best event photo booths I’ve ever used) where Jenna was taking photos with everyone, and then it printed the photo out for you to keep within seconds, and you could text or email the photo to yourself right there.

The catering was delicious. They had mini cheeseburgers for god’s sake. I won’t disclose how many I ate of them… Usually event food is so fancy (and frequently is something I don’t like) so when I saw cheeseburgers I was like yessssssssss.

So what is it that Jenna said that prompted me writing this post? 

Well, when you RSVP’d by email, they emailed you back and asked if you wanted to submit any questions for Jenna during the Q&A they were doing. The question was typical, but I thought her answer was spot on.

The question was basically, what advice would you give to someone wanting to get into the fashion industry?

And after jokingly but not really joking saying “Don’t do it!” she said (and I’m paraphrasing here) she was obsessed with fashion since she was young. She would drive 45 minutes to go to the book store that had foreign fashion magazines. She knows the history of the petticoat. She gets excited about different types of cashmere.

All of that was setting up for when she said that if you aren’t absolutely 100% obsessed with fashion and that’s all you can ever see yourself doing in life, then don’t do it. She implied that the industry is rough and stressful, but said that if you aren’t obliviously passionate and completely obsessed with it — someone else is — and they will outlast you. They will get the job over you. But if you are that person — go for it.

I think about this all the time. Not in the sense that I want to go into fashion as a designer or anything. I definitely don’t want to be a designer (but I love watching Project Runway)! But the concept that if you’re going to pick a really hard career or profession that you must be absolutely obsessed with it to last or make it to the top.

Being an entrepreneur — I know this intimately. It is definitely something I’ve known from a young age. That I wanted to do my own thing, have my own company. To try to be successful in my industry/industries (blogger, content creator, photo stylist, consultant) is hard. I always tell people, you have to be OK with being uncomfortable, because you are always uncomfortable. 

It’s not that I try to talk my clients out of being an entrepreneur or a blogger, because if they are seriously passionate about something they should go for it, but I definitely don’t sugar coat what it’s really like. You have to be so passionate and so dedicated and love it so so so much that you are willing to take all the shit that goes with it. And while you’re doing all the shit and going through all the shit — as much as it sucks — you can still tell yourself that it’s OK because you are doing what you love. And you just deal with it. And going through all of that shit, along with the amazing parts of doing what you love, is worth not doing something else that would make life a lot easier. Something that would make more money, or give you more free time to spend with family and friends or traveling, or not cause you much stress.

I know a lot of people who don’t necessarily love their jobs, but they don’t hate it by any means. And they spend their free time doing their passion with a lot less stress. And that’s not a bad way to go let me tell ya.

I love what I do, hence why I’m still doing it (not that I haven’t thought about getting a job somewhere like Instagram, because I totally have). But it’s hard out here. Some times are much much harder than others. But for me, I’m obsessively passionate enough to keep going.