Feeling burned out in the fashion industry? Don’t throw in the towel just yet!
Burnout is real, my friends, and I’ve been there.
In this episode, I’ll be sharing my personal story of contemplating a career change, why starting a fashion brand wasn’t the right path for me, and the alternative I found that worked wonders. But before you make that final decision to quit, I want you to consider a few things. Trust me, the next ten minutes could be just what you need to hear before saying goodbye to an industry you once loved. So grab your headphones and let’s get started!
Resources Mentioned in this Episode:
Burnout in the fashion industry is legit AF. And I know what it feels like to want to just quit and find another job outside of fashion. Back in 2009, I was there and I almost said bye bye to my fashion design career altogether. In this episode, I’m sharing my personal story on when I wanted to quit, why starting a fashion brand wasn’t the right path for me, and what I decided to do instead of working in house or having my own clothing line. If you’re fed up on the edge of burning out and ready to say audios to your fashion career, there’s something I want you to consider before you make your final decision to quit. The next ten minutes could be just what you need to hear to give it one last go before abandoning the industry that you were once so passionate about. Let’s get to it. Have you ever asked yourself, maybe I should leave the fashion industry? It is a tough question, and I’m not going to tell you the cliche advice of consider your goals and think about how transferable your skills are.
There’s enough generic career content out there like that. What I will tell you is my personal story when I considered leaving the fashion industry and how instead of leaving, I wound up finding something that worked really, really well for me. Now, if you’ve been listening for any amount of time, you might know what that spoiler alert is. But for whatever reason, if this is the first time you’ve been listening or watching, you might not be familiar with this alternative career path. And I’m not talking about starting your own fashion brand. We’ll get to that in a second. Listen, the truth is that burnout in fashion is legit, and the idea of quitting can feel like a massive relief. All right? Maybe you’re desiring more of a work life balance.
You want creative fulfillment. You want also to get paid fair. And that is a trifecta that is hard AF to come by working in the fashion industry. Here’s what I want you to know first is that you’re not alone. This is a super, super commonplace to be. But the reality is that changing careers and moving to a new industry is not always as easy as it sounds. You might be looking at jobs in other industries and wondering, how can my skills transfer? The idea of starting a new career completely from scratch is super, super overwhelming. I’ve been there, and a lot of people that I’ve talked to in the fashion industry have been there too.
So way back, we’re talking like 2007 six, seven. I built a fashion brand and it was successful on some levels. I was 20 something. I had no idea what I was doing. I did not go to fashion school, and I grew it to about $40,000 in the second 3rd year on paper, back in 2007 six. As a 20 something, that’s very successful. But the reality was, I wound up hating that fashion brand. I won’t go into the details, but let me just tell you, fashion brand is not what it’s cracked up to be.
So I decided that maybe working in house would be better. I luckily landed my dream fashion job, and I thought, I have made it. Not so fast. The office where I was working was crazy toxic. There was a lot of backstabbing, a lot of caddy coworkers, super long days, long hours. Crazy, harsh treatment from bosses that love you one day and then hate you the next. And that got really old, really fast. I wasn’t passionate about the product, the brand wasn’t sustainable, and I was like, I want to be innovative in fashion.
I want to feel like I’m changing the world for the better. And that is not what I’m doing in this job. At the time, this was 2008, 2009. I was getting paid $22,000 a year. Even back in that time, that was a really low wage considering how much work I was putting in. Right? We all know the grind. The 60, 70 hours work weeks, the staying late, coming in on the weekends, and none of it felt like it was worth it. I’d lost a tremendous amount of confidence and tremendous amount of self esteem, and I didn’t feel like I had anyone to talk to about it.
Worse, it felt like other people I knew in fashion were getting ahead, and I was kind of just there, getting left behind. So here I was, feeling super burnt out, and I was seriously considering leaving the industry altogether. So maybe you’re there. Maybe you think you’re getting there, right? If you feel like you’re constantly tired, you’re overly irritable, you’re losing motivation, these are all signs that you’re, like, reaching or are on the edge of burnout. I don’t know about you, but when I was working in house, I had meltdowns. Like, Sunday night, I would have the Sunday scaries, and I was like, going to work the next week. It never felt good. Now the reality is, yeah, changing jobs, changing industries can help.
But sometimes, like I said, that’s not the easiest path. Maybe you can find a new fashion brand to work for, but sometimes it just gets worse. Right now, if you want more sustainability in fashion, you want to work for yourself in fashion. You want to work with brands that you love, you want freedom in your day, not to be tied to a desk, and you want to make a fair wage. It kind of feels like an impossible combination in this industry. Right? I was not able to find it in a traditional fashion job, and you might not be able to find it either. Right? And so where are you at right now? You’re like, what do I do? I just have to leave the industry? Well, not so fast, right? So we already know that starting a fashion brand might not be the best path for you. The reality is, it costs a lot of money to start, it costs a lot of time, and it’s really hard to succeed.
So way back in 2008, 2009, when I was in this toxic job, I was like, I’m going to try something different. I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t know anybody that was doing this. I wasn’t sure when or if this would work. And I was terrified that I didn’t have a lot of answers. But I decided, I’m going to try freelancing. I’m going to try being a freelance fashion designer, right? And this was back in 2009, way before COVID way before remote work and fashion was even a thing. Now, when I talk about freelancing and fashion, I don’t talk about these temp jobs where you work on site, essentially full time for one brand, and then in three weeks or three months, when the gig is up, you’re basically unemployed again.
Those are temp jobs. That is called permalancing, and it is technically illegal in many situations. We have an episode on that. I’ll link to that in the show Notes. That is not the type of freelancing I’m talking about. I’m talking about real freelancing in fashion, where you’re in control of your own business. You have freedom in your day. You get to work for yourself when and where you want.
You set your rates, you work with multiple brands, and you get to choose projects that inspire you. All right? Now, since you’re working remotely in this freelancing situation, you get to work with brands all around the world. Now, immediately your alarm might be going up and saying, but brands don’t allow remote freelancers. And the truth is that some of them don’t. Big name brands in cities like New York City, La, london, the big fashion hubs are likely not your clients. But the reality is that there are thousands of brands out there that you’ve never heard of that actually prefer to hire remote freelancers. That is how I found freedom and creativity and work life balance in the fashion industry. It’s how I was able to earn over $100,000 a year while working 30 to 35 hours a week with brands I truly cared about.
It doesn’t require any money to start. All you need is some software. Adobe Illustrator, maybe excel. You’re looking at less than $30 a month. It’s quick to start. I have people who have gone to my free trainings, have listened to the podcast, watch here on YouTube, and gotten clients by using my advice in the same week or the next week. All right? It is what I teach inside my premium program, freelance Accelerator from Surviving to Thriving. We call it fast.
And my students have very similar experiences. A lot of them have considered leaving the fashion industry. Some of them have even left the fashion industry and now come back as freelancers, realizing there’s a different option, they can do this on their own terms. All right? It’s exactly what one of my students, Alexandra, did. She was being super underpaid in her fashion industry job and she considered quitting. She’s a technical designer. She started freelancing. Within two months of freelancing, she was making more in one day as a freelancer than she was making in two weeks at her old industry job.
This has happened for a lot of our students. I’ll link to some episodes below that you can check out to hear their stories. But the truth is that if you want to be in control of your time, your life, your day, be in charge of what brand you work with, this is how you do it as a freelancer. So if you’re considering leaving the fashion industry and you’re on the edge of burnout, listen, it is up to you, right? I know a lot of people get into the fashion industry because they just love fashion. You’re obsessed with it. Right? And that’s where I was at. I really, really wanted to make it work. And to me, it was safer to try freelancing than to try finding a new career altogether.
Even though when I decided this, I was pretty young, still, it still feels daunting to go down a different path, right? And freelancing can feel daunting too, but it felt like a more exciting path that was still in line with my goal. So if you’re on the edge with your freelance or with your fashion design career or TDPD pattern maker, whatever your role is, I would highly suggest you consider thinking about freelancing in fashion. It is a tremendous opportunity that a lot of people in fashion don’t even know is an opportunity. So if you’re curious, we’re going to link to some great episodes and other resources below. I’d love to help support you on your journey. You got this. You’re doing great.