We had the good fortune of connecting with Fiona Tran and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Fiona, alright, let’s jump in with a deep one – what’s you’re definition for success?
There are a lot of different definitions of success: fame, money, network, the list can go on- mine is fulfillment and happiness. A few years ago I would’ve gone with the traditional definitions of success but as years have gone by, I realized the other forms of success are driven by how other people perceive you.
Fame is fleeting, and you never know how long it’ll last or how it will look on you. The problem with this is that you also don’t have control over your own narrative.
Money is interesting because when you have a business and you see cash flow, you immediately think “Wow I’m running a super successful business!”. While that is true, think about the days where business is slow and it doesn’t work out; there’s no cash flow. On those days, you can feel far from successful and go down this route where you continue to spiral based on what’s on the surface down to your self-esteem.
I have a lot of friends who work in tech and have built incredible careers for themselves over the past few years and one of the things I was always in awe of was their network. From knowing CEOs of companies I personally love to knowing the right people to go to cool events, I thought that was the definition of success. Having a strong network is incredibly powerful and a great way to meet new people, but it’s also very easy to feel alone in the midst of all the different groups you meet.
I had the honor of also being one of those friends who had a great network and got invited to cool events. It was an incredible experience and almost somewhat of a high when it happened, but once I was alone I usually felt like I was back to square one, still working on finding a way to be successful.
With my most recent launch, I saw the difference between my first launch and my second drop, realizing that sales weren’t moving as fast. Before I launched my clothing line, FT The Label, I figured the best way to promote it was to chase fame and have that naturally pick up sales for me. At the end of the day, I realized I was losing touch with who I was and wasn’t happy. When sales began to trickle in for the second launch, I spiraled about money and realized at the end of the day- it really is just money. That, however, is not to be taken for granted as we all depend on it for our livelihoods and it can really make or break someone. But I realized what was more important than fast cash flow was the ability to start a business alone and see it through to actual clientele.
My network was incredibly limited in terms of who was willing to fully help me promote my pieces without being paid since I wasn’t able to afford it and who was willing to simply just share my clothing line on their social media. At the end of the day, I realized it is really just me, myself, and I.
I can’t rely on the success of a launch to make me happy or the publicity it may or may not come with. Once I accepted the fact that I was happy I took the leap to start my dream business with constant doubt and let downs from inside and out of my own family, I felt fulfilled. I felt happy.
Knowing that I did what no one thought I could follow through on, whether it would be an incredibly successful business, a learning lesson, or slow project, made me feel successful. I took on a project that I had no context to and challenged myself to do my best. Even without the fame, fortune, or insane network, I know my younger self would be proud that I came out of this entire journey staying true to myself, my values, and appreciating everything for what it is, rather than placing all my bets on what it could be.
Success comes in many different shapes and forms. Just make sure you’re the one to define what it is- even if it doesn’t go with the status quo.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
FT The Label is designed for the modern individualist who seeks elegance and romance. I initially created this line for women, but now I’m playing around with the idea of making it a unisex line. One of our main efforts is to tackle the issue of sustainability in the fashion industry. By creating timeless, quality pieces out of sustainable material, we hope that it will reduce overconsumption in fashion and allow for our clients to have quality pieces to live on in their closets forever! In the meantime, we work with what we can by incorporating sustainable packaging and some sustainable materials.
This journey has been far from smooth and has been incredibly humbling. From wasting months getting patterns made that didn’t meet the standards to more months searching for fabric and not having a clue where to start, problems came up left and right. When it came down to launching the actual site, I struggled with marketing and pushing out content to customers because I was either overwhelmed or busy working my 9-5 job and wasn’t able to devote more time to it.
As a female-Asian-founded company, I hope this inspires others to follow their dreams as well. I value transparency and I hope this is something brands continue to integrate into their own companies as well, not only with founder experiences but also with the behind the scenes of their business.
Every client feels like family, and we hope one day to grow into a global, sustainable brand that we all know and love.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
San Francisco has an endless list of things to do when you’re here for the first time so let’s start with what’s in season. Christmas is just around the corner and Union Square is lit up with the gorgeous tree in front of Macy’s and the ice skating rink is ready for you! But before you head over there, grab some hot chocolate at Ghirardelli Square and some Dim Sum at Palette Tea House. You have to see the golden gate bridge, especially if it’s a sunny day- Karl the fog tends to enjoy being the center of attention, so take advantage. Catch some amazing views from Chrissy field and lunch at Souvla in the Marina District or drive over the bridge to Marin Headlands for gorgeous trails along the California coast. It does get chilly here so you might want a good bowl of soup- head over to Turtle Tower for a warm bowl of pho then get lost at the MOMA museum. For a fun night out, the Marina is great for some bar hopping, but there are also some cool speakeasies and wine bars to visit in Little Italy, or enjoy some margaritas at El Techo! If you find a reservation at Foreign Cinema, let me know, it’s been on my bucket list too!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Thank you to everyone who has watched me struggle and thrive throughout this journey and has continuously supported me along the way.