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  • Suzy Wakefield

Do I Want to be Known for Ideas?


When you ask someone to describe the expertise they have on a particular subject or product, I have found it says a lot about what they do, how they think, and how effective a partner or service provider they will be. Even if it’s something like marketing which still is a bit grey to me, (Brand friends please don’t judge.) where one specialty stops and another starts if they can give some tangible examples of what their part in the process is, I usually get it.

On the other hand, if someone shares that they are an Ideas person it generally signals to me that they can’t articulate what they do, are not confident in their expertise, or that they might be a shiny penny chaser, all of which can be a deterrent to the process of getting sh%t done. Ideas are just that, things in our heads. Whether you are someone who has thirty amazing ones a day or three thousand, they don’t mean much unless you have the ability to convert them into something else.

Creative thinkers like Steve Jobs, Vivienne Westwood, and even Alexander Graham Bell in his day must have had more ideas than most of us ever will. But what they probably called themselves, and how they are known to others are as category experts, designers, inventors, and even re-inventors because this is what they did with their ideas. They transformed them into something else and thus transformed the world as we know it in very significant ways.


How can you become so much more than your ideas? Here are three ways we have worked on in our own creative practice.

1️⃣ Think about what means the most to become an expert in your desired practice. If you are an apparel designer, it’s developing an understanding of how to translate your creative ideas into actual garments. This comes by studying how garments are made. Any time you try something on or see it on a model and it doesn’t fit, try to understand what you would do to change it from a fit perspective. Even if you couldn’t make the specific pattern corrections yourself, connect with a tech designer who could mentor you on beginning to learn how to translate the issues to the changes.

2️⃣ Always be ready to share with anyone you talk to at least 3 tangible examples of how your ideas translate to execution. One could be a client case study. Another might be a brand you have been looking at and why you would approach it differently or add to their collection. For example, you might look at one like Lululemon and give an example of how they might evolve their collection (branding, product extensions, etc. whatever your specialty is would be what you talk about). Another is explaining how you work with cross-functional partners. I have found that if you can explain to people how the baton passes and when in the relay then it signals that you know what you are doing.

3️⃣ Be able to explain your process to get from Idea to Execution. Ask questions about their needs and give them the runway to explore your expertise. You don’t need to give away the farm. It’s more about sharing how you go about it and explaining the steps you take. This reassures them, and yourself, that you are all going into development eyes wide open and that you know how to do a thing versus talking about it.

It took us some time to understand that having a plethora of Ideas is the tip of the iceberg.

A mentor of mine used to say Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda, Didn’t.

Don’t be the Ideas person who Coulda.

Be the Expert who Did It.

Need some help with the expertise of lingerie, swim, or apparel design and development? You are in the right place. Contact us for a complimentary 30-minute chat.

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