As a graphic designer navigating the realm of self-employment, grit and versatility are key. Wearing various hats is part of the game, and one hat that stands out is effective communication. My stint at Lululemon proved instrumental in honing this skill, instilling in me the confidence needed for navigating tough conversations, embracing feedback, and adapting strategies when necessary as a business owner and as an individual.
Before my role as a key leader at Lululemon, I considered myself a capable communicator. However, I lacked specific training in active listening, adept questioning, and receptivity to others’ perspectives. These skills, often overlooked in many workplaces, play a crucial role in fostering a cohesive team and creating an environment that people are eager to return to.
Lululemon’s retail setting provided a rich training ground for communication. From managing delicate discussions with upset customers, to navigating interactions with fellow team members.
With being in a leadership position, I frequently found myself diffusing tensions with customers upset about garment issues or store policies. Simultaneously, I had to guide and provide feedback to colleagues regarding tasks that needed attention, were executed incorrectly, or could be improved. These scenarios are universal in any job, requiring a moment of self-reflection before responding to ensure a smooth resolution.
How does this experience correlate with being a small business owner?
Communication tops my list of essential pillars within Alpine Lupine. I cherish my clients who trust me with their branding, web design, or other creative projects. In what can feel like a saturated market, building trust, fostering enjoyable collaborations, and being an attentive listener are as vital as my design skills.
My business model is centered around long-term client relationships. From initial branding to website integration and the creation of printed marketing materials, the process can span over many months. Establishing clear boundaries, implementing efficient systems, and maintaining open communication are non-negotiables. These elements not only help prevent hiccups but, equip me to address any challenges that may arise along the way. This puts communication as the backbone of my successful and sustainable design business, and I hold this skill with the same gravity as my design expertise.
So here’s a long overdue thank you to Lululemon, my coworkers, my work-wife & Rush. You all have taught me more than you could ever know.