Perfectionism, Risk & Creativity

Perfectionism, Risk & Creativity

By Andrea Cheung

I’m writing this in my parent's living room, in the exact same spot Devin and I reviewed our Collection: One e-comm photos 2 years ago. We started STREET GRANDMA when we were 26 and living with our parents, going back and forth between their houses for meetings. So much has changed this year, for us personally, and for STREET GRANDMA. We’ve both moved out to our own homes and we moved STREET GRANDMA into a real office, where we now have our meetings. Last year I wrote about how persistence, compromise, and friendship progressed us through 2021. While those principles still apply, this year we faced new challenges. By the second year of any business, project, or venture, most work out the majority of the kinks. Operations are smoother, expenses are set to autopay, and you’ve established a core network of connections. In many ways, it is easier and you’ve hit the top of the learning curve for many day-to-day processes. At the same time, the novelty of the experience and the naivety that you need to take risks starts to wear off - this was the heart of many of the challenges we faced this year. 

Making our most recent collection was really hard. Actually, making most of anything this year was really hard. About half of it was physical (we had less time, took on full-time jobs, and had family obligations) but the other half was mental. I kept telling myself that if I just wait for the perfect time, place, or mindset, the inspiration would follow naturally and the work would feel like it was flowing. In reality, my attempt to anticipate the “right time” was just self-doubt that I wouldn't be able to execute my ideas to their full potential. But a few months ago I came across a TikTok (I wish I could say I read it in a book lol) where someone said, “Your creative ideas have an expiration date” - I still think about it all the time.

I think it’s important that whatever you’re doing feels right to your intuition - it’s something everyone should trust and we go off our gut all the time. At the same time, I lost so many good ideas because I was waiting for the perfect moment to even try. I delayed making Collection: Foor for months, up until 10 days before our launch because I was waiting for the perfect moment. I knew I had good ideas, but I didn't want anyone to see them until they were absolutely perfect. I genuinely thought about delaying everything until 2023, even as far as how we would announce it. Looking back I find it hard to imagine what our collection would have looked like if we kept waiting. It’s hard to say for sure, but perfectionism would have killed our creativity and Collection: Foor would have been a diluted version of our original ideas.

Risk is a luxury that STREET GRANDMA is lucky to have and it’s something we really hold onto. But in a space where minimalism has taken over and production costs are getting higher, it’s a vanishing luxury. When we first started STREET GRANDMA, we always wanted to be perceived as a bigger brand. We wanted to skip this phase because everything seemed better when you are bigger - more recognition, more followers, more money. But because we are small, there really aren’t any expectations, and we can take more creative risks. It took designing our most recent collection for me to realize that this may be the most fun phase of our growth and we should cherish it. 

I’ll occasionally get asked what would happen to STREET GRANDMA if one of us didn’t want to do it anymore. I’ve always said, it probably wouldn’t exist. Through our business partnership and friendship, Devin and I have created a space to be creatively risky. Would I have created a shirt that had a false fact about blue balls on it, if I didn’t have Devin to accept that idea judgment-free? It might seem trivial, but in reality, it’s very hard to find. It’s something that I wish for every creative to find, someone who can do that for them, someone that pauses to understand your vision and be willing to take the jump with you.

This year we were able to persist, despite the novelty of starting a brand wearing off. We fought through the creative blocks by taking risks, rather than waiting for the right moment. In the meantime, we improved, had so much fun, and created a brand that celebrates women for the multi-faceted individuals we have always been. Thanks to our community, STREET GRANDMA will be here to see 2023! Happy New Year!


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