Failure? That's Okay

Illustration by Alyson Toone 2019

Illustration by Alyson Toone 2019

As women, we are raised to strive for perfection in everything we do. Perfection is an unnecessary burden. We don’t need it. Especially as designers. Striving for perfection doesn’t solve problems. If a design is perfect then it has no need for change. The only apparel item I know that is the closest thing to perfect is a DVF wrap dress. It looks great on most people and can come in a variety of prints and colors. Most apparel has room for improvement. Most designs in general have room for improvement. And that’s okay. That isn’t even a failure.

I failed all the time as a designer. There were plenty of designs that didn’t work out for some reason or another. I am introspective person who is fine with learning from her own mistakes. Problems arose from hostile work environments in which failure is not expected in the office/ studio. People who don’t expect to fail can’t take failure. Yet failure is a part of the design process. You will stifle your creativity if you don’t challenge yourself. When people are always operating on a time crunch, then there is little room left for experimentation. Great ideas come from trying out possibilities. This doesn’t mean making full prototypes that are shipped from China. It may mean utilizing sample rooms. Remember when design studios had sample rooms? I don’t. I started in the industry after sampling was shipped overseas. I always thought it would make my job easier if I worked side by side with the pattern maker and sample maker. 

Maybe cutting up an existing sample to create something else to experiment with a new idea. Work with your hands. I always loved when I created mock ups. Sometimes I even hand stitched a pocket or label onto a sample. I was able to get away from a computer screen. 

There is a saying, “fail faster”. The faster you fail, the closer you get to the solution.