Audrey Tautou plays Coco Chanel in “Coco Avant Chanel” film.
Photograph: /Sony Pictures Classics
Chanel herself, c.1920
Photograph: Pictures Inc./Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image
Chanel Store in Venice, Italy
Time magazine named French designer Coco Chanel one of the 100 most influential women of the 20th century for a reason. She had exuberance, passion and ambition that changed the industry and the cultural milieu of the modern woman. Her designs created a paradigm shift in the fashion world. We are all thankful that she liberated women from wearing stifling corsets. She introduced a unique, androgynous style by wearing trousers in public. High society women began to wear Chanel No. 5, which was considered inappropriate and provocative at the time.
Coco Chanel was so many things. An artist, a rebel, a thinker. But most of all, she was a shrewd businesswoman.
“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.”
Entrepreneurs typically share similar personality traits. They like to get what they want, personally and professionally. They are determined, self-absorbed and persuasive. Does this conjure up images of a selfish monster? Guess what? Without these traits, it’s impossible to succeed. These traits are necessary, even essential, to move interests forward against societal norms. You have to be selfish and have a courage to stand up for your beliefs.
“I don’t care what you think about me. I don’t think about you at all.”
Again, I refer to Chanel.
Industry and cultural leaders criticized her designs, aesthetics and vision. However, she maintained her self-confidence, which served as the foundation of her extraordinary success.
The journey of entrepreneurship has its pitfalls. You will meet people who will throw stones, and be negative about you and your beliefs. Ignore this disapproval and surround yourself with mentors and friends who wish you success. Some of your friends will end up obstacles. You even may lose some friends. In the end, ask yourself: Were they true friends, anyway?
“My life didn’t please me, so I created my life.”
You are the creator of your life. If you feel unhappy professionally or personally, change it. Go deep inside yourself and ask questions. “Why are you unhappy in your current relationship?” “What excites me?” “What do I want achieve in life?” Take a break and travel. Meet new people. Get inspired by different perspectives. Traveling offers so much.
“In order to be irreplaceable one must be unique”
Don’t beat yourself up by comparing yourself to others. Don’t even be tempted to compete with others by copying ideas. Instead, focus on your unique strengths and develop your strategies, based on your skills, experience and knowledge.
“Those who create are rare; those who cannot are numerous. Therefore, the latter are stronger.”
People may even tell you that your ideas are delusional. They will say condescendingly, “You’re just SO creative.”
Well, the truth is you are creative. In this era of rapid technological development, innovative thinking is required. Embrace your creativity, do what you love and experiment with your gift. Diversify, rather than solely focusing on one thing. Be creative in the way you connect with people, sell the product, solve the problems and learn new things.
“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.”
Embrace your hobby, your passion. Cultivate it. Make it part of your lifestyle. Experiment.
Chanel, for example, throughout her career, innovated. Fashion was a part of her lifestyle, not just solely the vehicle for her business. Russian Orientalism and the Ballet Russe. The clothing from her male lovers. All of these elements became part of her fascinating designs. Designs that will last forever.
by Ashley Cooper
by Ashley Cooper
by Ashley Cooper