Editor’s Note: Inspire Me is a series in which entrepreneurs and leaders share what motivates them through good times and bad, while also sharing stories of how they overcame challenges in hopes of inspiring others.
With entrepreneurship, one of the biggest challenges is knowing when the moment is right to strike. This is a lesson that Hannah Payne came to understand first-hand.
As the founder of women’s fashion label Luba, Payne faced a number of challenges getting her company up and running -- including finding an actual manufacturer to make her designs. But perhaps her biggest issue was one that involved her personal life, and timing.
In March 2015, just a month after she launched the brand, Payne was diagnosed with severe endometriosis. On top of that, her doctor told her that if she and her husband wanted to ever become pregnant, now was the time. “That was just a whole other wrench in the situation, of trying to figure out how I was going to run a company -- also trying to get pregnant and be a mom,” Payne recalled in an interview with Entrepreneur.
She said she had no other option than to put her company’s future on hold. So, that's what she did.
Getting back to "start"
The following September, Payne did get pregnant with her daughter. But, then, another delay: A complication caused her baby to be born eight weeks premature. All the while, the entrepreneur was thinking about when would be the right time to restart Luba again. It took a while, she says, to realize there would never be a "right time." “I knew that if I stopped, I would never go back."
In the spring of 2017, Luba relaunched in full force. While the few stores the brand had lined up had disappeared due to the delay, Payne made up for lost time. And her efforts paid off: Today, two years later, her clothes are in 22 stores, as well as sold online. The founder says that what's kept her inspired throughout have been her customers themselves. “It's always amazing when I get to [meet our] customers,” Payne says. “I love when they talk to me about how beautiful they feel, or if they're wearing [one of our dresses] to a special event."
In the interview, Payne shared her insights about to how stay true to your aspirations when life gets in the way:
What was the last major challenge you had, and how did you motivate yourself to tackle it?
All of our fabrics come from Italy and France, and the Italians and French in the summer take all of August off! That's when we're finishing up production, as well. So, one of these fabrics from my Italian [supplier] was supposed to ship before they went on holiday, and it didn't. And I couldn't get in touch with them for over a month. That was really challenging, because it caused us to be delayed.
The best way I handle [a challenge] is I take a break for a moment and think about the best solution. And sometimes there is no solution, and it is completely out of my control.
What is a specific lesson from an early boss or mentor that inspires you today?
A teacher at Parsons [School of Design] said to our class that when he started, he had a boss that was mean to him -- he berated and belittled him. Thirty years later, this guy [the former boss] came and interviewed for a job that was under him. He didn't hire him, because he was a mean boss, and because [Payne's former teacher didn't] want this toxic [influence] in his environment. He said, "Always remember, no matter how high you get, you started at the bottom, and you should treat people with kindness, because you never know where you're going to end up."
Who is a woman that inspires you?
My Luba [Payne's grandmother], whom the brand is named after. I never had a chance to meet her, but she, along with her sisters, was put in a concentration camp in their teens, survived and then came to the United States. She had seven children and died of breast cancer at 42. She was an amazing woman -- strong and powerful. Her sisters were the same way. My mom and her sister are that way, too.
For women looking to start a business or who have begun one but are feeling discouraged, what advice do you have?
Never give up! Design is in my soul; it's a part of me. I knew if I gave it up, I would lose a part of myself. And then, honestly? "Fake it until you make it." If I can't talk positively about my brand and how amazing it is, no one else is going to do that.
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors.