While reading through the submissions from applicants for the role of Community Manager, I noticed this come up a few times:
“I’ve only been following Frenchie for a few months.”
And it made me pause. I’ve been running Aroha Knits for almost four years now, and people are still discovering and learning about me! That’s so cool!
I realized that, despite me being as open as I can about my struggles and challenges, my triumphs and victories, you may still not know my full story.
With the launch of the SWATCH Studio Circle underway, among all my posts of “You have what it takes to be a designer!” or “I’ve got your back!”, I realized that I wasn’t sharing a critical story.
For those who are new to me or been following me for a few months, you’re seeing me four years into my knitwear design journey: where I am now running a six-figure business doing what I love for a living (and getting paid for it!).
But how did I get here? Where did I start? Apparently, I must have been super creative and smart or super lucky right from the start! I know that for many, Aroha Knits is an inspirational and aspirational brand, but sometimes I wonder if I had accidentally put up a barrier between you and me. Like, “Oh wow, I could never have what Frenchie has! She must have been so talented and smart from the get-go, whereas I am not.”
No, that is not the case. And that’s my fault because I haven’t shared my story with you. My full story. And this may only scratch the surface.
Let’s go back a bit.
In July 2014, here’s my current situation: unemployed. Living in a foreign country. Can’t speak the language. Can’t get a job. Can’t drive. Dependent on my husband’s salary as an assistant English teacher. Only a few hundred dollars in the bank. The closest convenience store is 30 minutes away. Nearest restaurant: 2 hours away. At this point in time, I’ve been knitting for 7 months now, designing as a hobby for 3. Sprinkle in battling depression and anxiety, and voila! You have 2014 Frenchie.
And 2014 Frenchie says to her husband: “I want to make a career being a knitwear designer!”
Let’s set some more context: I barely knew how to knit, let alone design. I had no photography, graphic design, website, writing, branding or marketing skills. And here I am, bright-eyed and upbeat, basically telling my husband who is working so hard to provide for the both of us while paying off student loans, “Out of all the entrepreneurial endeavors I could have chosen, it’s KNITTING!”
No skills, no idea, no chance, right?
Wrong. As you can plainly see.
The reason why I’m writing this post today is to hopefully show you that I’m… just a regular human. I didn’t come into the knitwear design business with years of experience in knitting, designing, photography, copywriting, marketing, branding, how-to-run-a-business know-how, etc. (Want to see my VERY first website from this era for example? This was right before I moved to Japan).
What I did have was a desire to find a way to make it work because even though I had only been knitting and designing for less than a year, I LOVED it. I was OBSESSED with it. It was my passion and even my life-calling. So I figured it all out along the way. I took leaps of faith. I experimented, I failed, I grew. I learned and invested in coaches and mentors to help me get the results I wanted. What you see NOW is the result of years of passion, grit and a love for what I do.
The only difference between you and me is that I’m just further along the path of this crazy journey. Sure, there may be some differences in lifestyles between us, but 2014 me was indeed not more talented, creative or skillful than you. And I certainly had plenty of obstacles (financial and mental especially) that I had to pull myself through.
I didn’t go to art school or get a degree in business (I’m an International Relations and French double major). I didn’t grow up with memories of watching my grandmothers knit by the fireside and them passing along the tradition to me. I certainly didn’t go pursuing my dream without feeling massive fear, self-doubt and imposter syndrome. Whenever I signed up for a program, I would feel sick to my stomach at the idea of spending money on me and my knitting.
But four years introduces a lot of growth and strength. 2018 Frenchie is miles different from 2014 Frenchie.
So I ask you, what would you look like in four years? Or even a year from now?