Growing businesses is tough work. We know, because we’re still at it. And we’re curious about what it means to start your own thing and make it grow. The Founders Files series talks to founders, entrepreneurs, doers, and makers about scaling up & pressing on.
Nova Lorraine is best known for - well, it’s hard to narrow that down, actually.
She’s a *deep breath* founder-CEO-designer-author-editor-podcaster-poet-psychologist-speaker-actor-mother AND one heck of an advice giver. A whole litany of titles & accomplishments follow after her name in a Google search, but judging from my exchanges with her, Nova is first and foremost a creative with a heart of gold (no seriously, I’d probably believe cartoon birds braided her hair this morning.)
Nova recently talked to me about her multi hyphenate career and what helped her mount the challenges of starting and running her own businesses.
Psst! We created this virtual screen using Fugo's new Channels feature 😎
Tell me a bit about your business. Why did you start it and what do you do?
Besides being an award winning fashion designer, I run a multimedia company that educates and inspires through digital, print, and podcasts. The brands include Raine Magazine, the Raine School of Fashion Innovation and Sustainability, the Pink Kangaru Podcast Network, and Nova Lorraine International - a luxury, lifestyle fashion brand. I am also a writer and authored the book: Unleash Your Supernova, which is also an award nominated podcast.
Where do you see your industry in the next 5 years?
Fashion is heading for a huge upgrade in technology, in terms of VR, AR, AI, and Blockchain as it relates to user experience, workflow, and supply chain management.
Additionally, we will see a great expansion on sustainable solutions in textiles production and waste.
Editor’s Note: Agreed - we think AI will become a lot more prominent in the world of fashion and retail, especially given major Covid-driven industry shifts.
In your business’ initial years, what was the biggest thing hindering your growth and how did you fix it?
Funding from investors outside of the family and friends circle was the biggest hindrance for me. Fashion is a creative business and many angel and VC investors focus on technology and medicine when it comes to awarding 6 - 8 figure investments.
Therefore, in the earlier years of my business, I decided to get a loan from the bank, and due to great credit, I was awarded a six figure loan to expand my business.
At what point did you realize your business was ‘taking off’ and that you could really make money from it? What did you decide to do at that point?
Shortly after opening my New York Showroom a few months after my launch, I was featured in Essence Magazine. When the story ran, my office phone was ringing off the hook from potential customers. When a big media publication recognizes your work, it helps confirm to customers that your product is worthy of their attention and dollars. :-)
Why do you think so many people fail to grow their business and what advice would you give to keep pushing despite all the setbacks?
Fear of... is a big part of it. It can be fear of failure, disappointment, or judgement to name just a few. We often don't recognize our own greatness, gifts, or potential. We focus too much on what others may think or say if we choose to do something that doesn't fit into the mold or pivot to something new.
We are the writers of our own story and when we remember that the power of our success, happiness, or fulfillment, literally lies in our hands, more of us will go for it - despite our insecurities or what support we may or may not receive from those around us.
What do you attribute your success to?
I see the glass half full in all situations. Sometimes not immediately, but I always aim to in the end. I also pay attention to who I surround myself with, what I eat, and what I consume in terms of content. I believe in the strength of protecting our three critical environments: physical, social, and mental - in order to preserve our happiness and create a more positive perspective on everything.
What’s one piece of commonly accepted professional ‘wisdom’ you think should be thrown out?
"If you work hard, you will achieve your goals." I believe it takes more than just "hard" work for accomplishing what we want. Work should be enjoyable and fluid, even if it brings challenges. When using the right techniques and strategies of mindset and mindfulness, then working "easy" or "smart" is what becomes the norm.
Working hard should not be confused with being persistent and consistent. These two traits are necessary for reaching any goal. Working "hard" implies that the journey will not be enjoyable. Most athletes enjoy their journey of growing and improving in their chosen sports and this is due to persistence and consistency.
When done right, both the mind and body are engaged to provide optimal results for athletes - and this happens over time. There are many athletes that work "hard" and never see success because the emphasis is on their physical ability and not on their mindset. Without the balance of mind or body, then working "hard" only gets you so far. I don't feel that enough emphasis is placed on how much mindset and psychology plays into our success.
What’s a ‘hack’ you have for success that most people don’t know about?
Listen - without distraction - to music (classical, meditation, old school reggae, jazz and/or classical) before doing a difficult or creative task. It will boost your mood as well as your creative juices.
What do you do when you’re feeling intimidated or overwhelmed by your work?
Breath, practice positive self-talk, and step away for a few hours or days to get re-inspired.
How do you think running your businesses has improved the other parts of your life outside of the professional sphere?
I have met incredibly inspiring individuals that are now great friends. I have discovered strengths and skills that were inspired through the most challenging times of being an entrepreneur, and I have the opportunity to create and problem-solve daily.
Are there any positive changes brought about by Covid, either in your industry or among your own team, that you think should stick around post Covid?
Greater attention to improving mental health through mindful activities, intentions, and goals.
What’s the book (or books) you’d give to everyone you know if you had enough copies?
What’s the best thing you’ve spent $100 or less on in the last year?
Plants and Floral Decor for my workspace
Fill in the blank: I’d love to see how __________ answers these same questions
Do you have anything else you want to add?
Never give up on your dreams. Share with others what you want to accomplish - no matter how big or small, and you will be surprised how much help you will get along the way.
Born in Jamaica and raised in Connecticut with her five siblings, Nova Lorraine is an award-winning fashion designer, brand advisor, and founder of the premier platform for the creative entrepreneur, Raine magazine.
Nova’s debut fashion collection earned her Best Haute Couture Designer of the Year, and her designs have been featured on The View and in Essence and Vogue Italia magazines. She’s a poet and storyteller at heart and has found success in her award-nominated podcast, Unleash Your SuperNova.
Nova spends her free time guest lecturing at several universities and serving on advisory boards for the US Green Chamber of Commerce Fashion Team and the Pan African Chamber of Commerce. Her newest entrepreneurial pursuits include the launch of the Pink Kangaru Podcast Network for “wild thinkers” and the Raine School of Fashion, focusing on innovation and sustainability.