Fashion Entrepreneur Podcast

Fashion Originators

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Hi.

Welcome to Fashion Originators, a podcast hosted by me, Stephanie Irwin. Every other week, I interview game-changing fashion entrepreneurs. Each episode, THEY share their wins, losses and wisdom – all to inspire your career and personal goals.

How French immersion has helped my fashion career #motivationmonday (it’s not how you think)

How French immersion has helped my fashion career #motivationmonday (it’s not how you think)

How French immersion has helped my fashion career #motivationmonday (it’s not how you think)

As I write to you, I’m having breakfast on a sunny Provence patio. It’s a holiday in France, so the streets are incredibly at peace – and so am I. While I began this French course to jumpstart my ‘bilingual fashion creator’ dreams, French immersion has challenged me in ways I didn’t anticipate.

While my characterization may seem idyllic, the first week of my trip was rather challenging; I was staying with a host (who speaks zero English), I hadn’t spoken French in many years, and the first test was incredibly difficult. 

During those early days, there was one linguistic block that I kept running up against. In class, I'd often want to say a specific word in a sentence, but I'd either get annoyed at myself for forgetting it, or I'd pull out a dictionary mid-conversation. In situations with non-English speakers (dealing with a SERIOUS bug problem and a leaky ceiling), it can be very stressful to not only get your point across, but to also do it politely. When my French teacher (or others) tried to understand what I was saying, they'd often think I wanted to say something I didn’t want to say. Sensing my ongoing panic, my French teacher turned to me; 

  ‘it doesn’t matter if you forget a word. In my 20 years of teaching, I’ve learned that there are always other words you can use to communicate.’

Not only did this allow me to relax (it’s VERY normal to forget vocab in the moment), but it also gave me a new perspective on communication in general. Particularly in a high-stress fashion environment (fast-pace, cultural clashes etc), it’s easy for words to be misconstrued and for others to not understand you. In life, there’s nothing more frustrating than feeling like no one hears you – like you’re speaking a different language from everyone else.

To deal with this dilemma, the words of my French teacher became an 'AHA moment' (as the great Oprah always says). When I have had conflicts in the past, I achieved the best resolutions when I made a conscious effort to explain my point in a different way (if the first way wasn't getting through).  While someone may disagree, they might at least understand you if you use different words. As tempting as it is to want to stick to similar words and phrases to get your point across, sometimes it’s better to sit back, think a little longer -- then pull out a dictionary later. 

I would love to know: 

How has knowing (or not knowing) another language helped / hindered you in the fashion industry? 

Be sure to let me know on my latest Instagram post on @fashionoriginatorspodcast -- the discussions are always incredibly insightful. In the lead-up to next week's episode, be sure to check out my latest interview with Agatha Lintott of Antibad -- the sustainable cool fashion store -- below: 

The Fashion TED Talk you need to watch #motivationmonday

The Fashion TED Talk you need to watch #motivationmonday

Find your fashion career role models #motivationmonday

Find your fashion career role models #motivationmonday