What do you want to be when you grow up?
With Sheena Yee
As a child, I remember being asked this question so many times and had strayed so far from anything I had ever wanted to be that I didn’t know myself anymore.
(I started in the Graduate Program at Deloitte because it sounded fancy, fun and prestigious when reps from the company came to my uni. I was easily sold.)
It occurred to me that such a point didn’t exist, and worse, it occurred to me I wasn’t chasing a career, I was drifting into it. And doubly worse, I don’t think I was even good at it. This epiphany enlightened me, so much so that it enlightened the way to a premature mid-life crisis. I needed help. I consulted my inner child (children are sometimes smarter than adults), imagined the ugly nerdy younger Sheena standing in front of me and asked:
“Tell me honestly, what I’m doing this instant, do you & I want this?”
NO, she said with enough conviction to make me take her seriously.
OK “pole apparel designer” wasn’t in the plans either, but when I was a child I lived under a conservative rock and didn’t know what pole dancing was. If I knew, it would have been in the plans 100%. I freakin’ love poling. Do you remember your first class? I do, crystal clear. I remember my instructor - light as a butterfly, performing miracles
on the pole. I was in awe, it looked like a breeze & I wished she would stop demonstrating so I could jump on the pole ASAP. But boy, was it NOT a breeze, I felt so heavy on the pole with a ton of self-doubt. I’m never going to be able to hang upside down no hands. I’m never going to get into the Cupid. So many thoughts of never
this, never that… I had a lot of doubts, but I also had a burning desire to nail it. 100 bruises, torn muscles & stretch marks later - I did nail it.
Not all at once & certainly not everything yet – but it’s a continuous process. A learning journey. One that is so satisfying & self-validating. I’m stronger than I ever thought & getting stronger. My body is amazing. It gave me confidence that came from within, and I think this is the most powerful source of confidence of all. I hope you know exactly the feeling I’m talking about. Know that you have the heart & soul of a champion.
So as I loved poling more & more, and unloved my career more & more, the second epiphany hit me, and because nature has a tendency to come full circle, this one enlightened me out of my premature mid-life crisis.
My epiphany is that my true calling was to design beautiful pole apparel!
I trashed my corporate apparel to make space for the pole apparel I was yet to design. It was a symbolic act of commitment. I had to have the courage of my
convictions. I could not chicken out & crawl back to corporate safety. I would have nothing to wear. I mortified the naysayers (Yay!) - You’re going to design clothes for what?!
For pole dancing?!! Do they even wear clothes?! Is there even a market for this? What’s wrong with your sports bra? But your job pays. Etc etc, People have many
opinions on how others should lead their lives, but not enough on how to lead their own. So for once, shut out the noise & listen to your intuition.
And although my intuition left me with no job & no money, at least I have a wardrobe full of beautiful Super Fly Honey pole apparel. I’ve also made new relationships. Dear World Wide Web & Social Media – thank you for connecting me to beautiful souls all around the world. I am so lucky to be part of this pole & aerial community – you are
so supportive & passionate. A community with an authentic voice that is very real & very loud, that welcomes newcomers with an open embrace & open mind, that has a
lot of sass yet isn’t pretentious and boy, do you guys know how to have fun.
In between the lines
I was in loss for the first year of planning, then in profit for the second year of selling
My business set up was very lean from day 1, eg. no office rent, biggest investment was COGS
my team is based in Philippines
(I do not subscribe to the "do good" company value of "hiring locally" and "making Australian jobs", from my travels, Australians have an exceptional standard of living and amazing welfare tax, based on higher taxes)
But there are many people in Philippines that have so little, but are so dedicated and hard working, and have the talent but just not the opportunity
I enjoy people development, growing a team, and for that, a PH based team has worked out for me not only in a financial aspect, but also personally.
My entire team are young mothers in their twenties, and all but one are single mothers
That's definitely not a hiring requirement HA-HA but I guess being a single mother demands multitasking talent which is needed in a growing business like mine
Personally, this has taught me a lot about empathy and leadership
In learning about entrepreneurship and e-commerce, I've come across so many learning pointers relating to the "hustle" and "marketing" strategies, but little about practical leadership advice, which I've found to be equally important
I suppose leadership is something that can only truly be learnt in the doing