Friday, December 7, 2012

"Surround Yourself With Positive." Is My #4 Lesson Learned in Millinery.

 In continuation of "My Lessons Learned In Millinery" series,  I am sharing with you my Lesson #4 entitled "Surround Yourself With Positive". To bring you up to speed, previous Lessons can be found right here: Lesson #1, Lesson #2 and Lesson #3. I can not stress enough how essential it is to surround yourself with positive people, positive influences, positive experiences and just about anything positive you can find. :-) Sounds easy enough, right? If you can control your creative environment, people who enter your life, circumstance that appear out of nowhere - you are blessed because there is nothing more inspiring than living in the world you created for yourself. Unfortunately, at times, we have to deal with people who bring negative into our lives, circumstance that are less than desirable. My suggestion (learned the hard way) limit communications or eliminate all together those who bring negative  -  no mercy here. I would advice to read great article written by one of the Fashion's great photographers I admire so much Benjamin Kanarek entitled " Don't Shit on Your Doorstep" (simply type the name of Benjamin and the name of the article into Google search). Short, sweet and to the point. Nobody likes those who spread negative, in fact the majority of people want to have nothing to do with people who are that insecure and vicious. Do yourself a favor, protect yourself. Remember that negative experiences can also be a tremendous source of inspiration, so don't discount them all together. In my experience as a Milliner I have been incredibly blessed with being able to meet great, talented, wonderful people from many corners of the world. How lucky am I :-))) I will touch on the subject of forming positive creative collaborations more in my Lesson # 5. Remember, creative people are visual people and that means that you have to feed your imagination non stop. No diet suggestions here, unlimited food for your creative! I, for example, create mood boards and inspiration boards every season and keep it in front of me at all times.  If I notice myself drifting into a "gray zone" all I have to do is look at my boards full of swatches, post cards from my students and friends, little collectibles, magazine editorials, fashion sketches and hat drafts and it keeps me in focus. Books, movies, theater, people your love - sounds easy enough but how much time do you really dedicate to all of it? My bet is not nearly enough or, in my case, not as much as would like to. Make a conscious effort to keep balance of things you love. It is especially difficult during intense production, which for me is almost year round now. The choice here is really simple: you can literally bury yourself underneath your hats or choose to walk away  once in a while to benefit your creative side. 
 Another part of my lesson learned in surrounding myself with positive came from my open dislike of Formal Establishment. I am not saying that every type of Formal Establishment is destructive rather than constructive. However, I discovered that is is almost impossible for me to be a part of it. With in the past few years I have noticed tremendous increase in different types professional millinery guilds, hat lovers clubs, all kinds of competitions run by different kinds of organisations. Early in my career I also briefly joined New York Milliner's Guild but left it with in a year due to the demands of growing business. I guess, what scares me the most about all of it is one single word - "consensus". Literal definition of this word is - a group decision making process that seeks the consent of all participants. Consensus may be defined as an acceptable resolution, one that can be supported even if not every single person in the group favors it. Just think about this for a second. First of all, successful creative people have tremendous ambitions - nothing wrong with that, I am also guilty of it. Every time you enter into Formal Establishment you are subject to the existing rules, dominant personalities and hierarchy. You are expected to submit to all of it. In my personal opinion this is THE worst single thing you can do to yourself as a professional. One of my personal heroes Michael Crichton, the author of "The Andromeda Strain", considered any kind of consensus,whether it is in design or in science, to be an ultimate evil. He outlined the reasons for it with clear precision in one of his famous lectures in California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, CA in January of 2003: " Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of week people searching desperately for the support of the group, the first refuge of scoundrels. It is a way to avoid debate on any point of view claiming that the matter is already settled and therefore no further deliberation is necessary.  Let's be clear: the work of science (or design in our case) has nothing whatsoever to do with consensus.Consensus is a business of politics. Any creative field requires only ONE investigator who happens to be right against the collective mind of Formal Establishment.  The greatest of creative minds in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus." Almost exactly the same thought on the subject came from the recorded dialogues between Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada in exhibition "Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversation". I was so mesmerized by the conversation, I had to listen to it over and over again to make sure I understood correctly. Schiaparelli insisted that in the early stages of your business the designer must hide from the world and work almost in solitary confinement, making sure that inevitable mistakes of the first few years in business do not bring critiques strong enough to destroy creative mind. She insisted that the first few years are important "to grow thick skin" when it comes to developing strong hand, signature style, direction and everything that goes into setting yourself aside from the crowd and making yourself critique proof, so do speak. I feel that for me, as a designer and as an artist, solitary confinement is more comfortable: it gives me solitude, clear focus, strength, clarity, it gives me the best creative environment I can possibly wish for. I find myself strong enough now to handle any critique that might come my way, but even so I am still choosing solitary confinement.
I am sorry to keep it so long this time, but I felt there are several very important point worth mentioning. For this post, I asked our Model Anastasia to wear "La Petite Chocolatière" hat by my Atelier with every single piece hand blocked and dressed in gold foiled French tulle, embellished with Swarovski stones and tiny silk handmade rosettes.  Inspiration for this hat came from one of my favorite cafes in Paris, beautiful memory of so many beautiful breakfasts shared with people I love.:-)


carla fox said...

So true, so true. Thanks for reminding me.....true creativity comes from within, is not subject to current trends or fads. I'm going to go read that article right now!

Armando y Montez said...

Anya, I wish I had read this two years ago. It would have saved me a lot of grief.. Now I have a shop and I work alone and I'm thriving creatively and having many positive experiences. You my dear are wise and a breath of fresh air.
Thank You.

Anonymous said...

Anya, this article is exactly what I needed to read to get my thoughts in order. I love entire series on Lessons because you approach is very different and unconventional, completely unexpected, makes a lot of sense. I am due to graduate with degree in Fashion Design in a few short months. Over the Summer I was invited (submitted my application and was chosen out of hundreds) to undergo apprenticeship with one of the New York's finest designers. Dream job! I am working very hard, long hours, demanding schedule. There is another apprentice, the girl of my age, who is competing against me for the same position. One of us will be chosen end of this Winter for the permanent position. I recently found out that the second girl is spreading rumors about me and not a nice kind of rumors. Very disrespectful, dishonest, downright lies. I am naturally a very positive person, never had any kind of personal time with this girl and can't seem to understand where all of it is coming from!? I feel that situation is getting out of control, I have to do something and have no idea how to handle it. Any suggestions? Thank you very much in advance. Alison B.

VM Creation Atelier said...

Dearest Anya,

I road all comments here by your last post.............
And I want to say that I have also very much good feelings over!

At first,I want to say a great THANKYOU for all your lessons,because it speaks me too very,very much.
Positivity,that´s one of the mostly important things in the life wich people forget continuous!:-(((

You know,my dearest Anya, I want also to say:

Your creativity,big talent as a designer and also as a very special woman directly proportional to each other!!!
I admire your strong,creative spirit and your opportunities to work regardless what happens around you..........

I like this little one,SO precious one ''cake-hat''!:-)))*

LOVe any imput of you there.........the stones,the color and the shape!
SO lightly perfect done!!!

I send you my warmest virtual hugs,

Much Love,

Couture Millinery Atelier. said...

Dear Alison,

First of all congratulations on getting the coveted apprentice position. It is an achievement on its own: being chosen out of hundreds speaks volumes of what your future employer thinks of your capabilities. I think it is important to keep your eyes on this point to keep the momentum going. Second of all, you must understand that every time someone goes behind your back, spreads rumors, invents negative information in an effort to destroy your professional reputation- it has absolutely nothing to do with you. Having that said, it doesn't mean you don't have to take it seriously and work out the best possible response tactic. The truth is that this kind of conduct (or should I say absence of such)has everything to do with that other person: imagine how insecure, desperate, miserable and weak she
must feel to invest time, energy and effort into creating negative image of you.

Couture Millinery Atelier. said...

This means that this is the only possible way she sees to bring you down and this means good news for you. 1. Nobody likes people who talk negative behind the back. Everyone understands that if they do it with you, they will do it to you. About a year ago I had to deal with the situation when one of the people I trusted to a degree went on behaving like a 5 year old who was not given the right toy at the right time. As a result, she unleashed the same kind of menu of vicious rumors, sarcastic remarks, accusations. All of it was said ALWAYS behind my back and NEVER to my face(you would think they would come up with something new already!). Even though I ended all communications with that person prior, people who knew both of us, in an effort to protect me urged me to take legal action and provided me with screen shoots which carefully documented each statement. The situation, at one point, became so tense that I was a minute away from filing with the Court of Law. The reason for it is the simple fact that I had my name to protect. I worked very hard on creating my brand and were not just about to allow to destroy it piece by piece, not to mention to someone I had absolutely no respect for in every single sense of this word. I made my mind to demand public apology and a symbolic payment of 1$. I never went ahead with the case because situation resolved itself unexpectedly and, I suspect, due to a 3rd, less emotional, party
involvement who perhaps explained in detail possible outcome of such actions.I decided that from this point on, if situation will arise once again I will make every effort to protect my name aggressively. Here is what I learned from this experience: You can not be responsible for other
people's personal and business poor conduct. Believe me when I tell you that by doing what they are doing, they are damaging themselves greater than they can possible know and see at the moment. All you can be responsible for is how you react to it.You have been chosen for a position of apprentice because you are THAT good. Triple your effort, do an excellent job, concentrate your focus on one single thing: getting permanent position. Be kind and helpful to people around you, be professional enough not to get sucked into arguments about "who said what" with this girl "Jersey Shore" style. Strong work ethic and your professional capabilities must be what your employer sees first. I always say that you work and only your work along should be your best representation of who you are. It will end all speculation or possible doubt. I would suggest to not confront that girl with anything at all.You are just at the beginning of your professional career and she has no influence over it whatsoever. Let her see that she doesn't bother you, nor does she effect your performance.I would pity her a little. Imagine what a terrible life she must have inside her poor head. Let her do what she does the best: gossip. It will catch up with her soon enough. It always does. Thank you for reading my Blog. :-) Be fearless and, please, write to me at the end of the Winter. I would like to congratulate you on getting permanent position with the designer of your dream! :-)

Anonymous said...

Dear Anya, WOW! Thank you for sharing this with me.I will take your advice. I am not one of the most patient people in the world, the situation does irritate me but you are right! You are class act all the way. Thank you for your blog. I come here often and always look forward to new articles every Tuesday and Friday. Cheers.Alison

Lee Duncan is HatStruck said...

Dear Anya,

I'm playing catch up reading your posts. Thank you so much for this post. I joined a guild a few years ago and it was the worst thing I'd ever done in my entire life, literally. I've learned over the past couple of years that some of the people that appear to be nice on the Web, if met in person, are among the most vicious people you'll ever meet, even if they do appear to be nice on the Web. I learned that the Web can be a vehicle for such people to employ character assassination without the recipient questioning such. Actually, in the end, I took this as a positive rather than a negative because every once in a while we need to feel how blessed we are to have close friends and family that really know our character.

You're correct a controlling [vicious] environment is not a place for creative people. I've learned so much since I ventured out and I'm still learning.

Thanks again.