Inspiring Lessons From Fashion’s First Lady Coco Chanel

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She’s credited with inventing the little black dress, the concept of sportswear and the most iconic scent in the world. Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel was a pioneer for thousands of women, turning her humble beginnings into an empire that remains to be one of the most iconic fashion houses.

There is some controversy surrounding her due to her activities during World War 2, and her love affair with childhood sweetheart turned Nazi officer. Whether she was just a girl trying to make it in a tough time, a love-struck woman who simply got involved with the wrong man or a ‘Nazi agent’ as is claimed by some (but refuted by the Chanel company) nobody can second guess the powerhouse of fashion she created, so despite her shortcomings, here are some positive lessons you can learn from Coco Chanel in creating a business.

If you’ve got a great product, you can create a market for it

Coco Chanel used the girls in her showroom to spritz her signature scent, and when clients expressed an interest in it, she started giving them small vials to take home with them. After she had secured a demand for her signature scent, she launched the perfume into her business—proof that with a little savvy and a good product, you can create the demand for whatever you’re offering.

Keep looking until you find your passion.

Your dream job? It’s out there. But it might be at a company that’s nothing but a Kickstarter campaign right now. Don’t let that discourage you! Never stop searching for the thing that gives you drive, and feeds your hunger. As Ms Chanel put it: “I invented my life by taking for granted that everything I did not like would have an opposite, which I would like.” Sometimes finding the opposite of the things you love can be just as useful as finding things you adore.

Don’t let others tell you what’s possible

Chanel’s recipe for success? Think of it as your only option. “Success is often achieved by those who don’t know failure is inevitable.” Truer words were never spoken, and Coco Chanel knew what she was talking about, turning her humble beginnings into a multi-million dollar fortune—simply because she didn’t let the doubt of others turn into doubt in herself.

Know when to call it quits

Coco understood how to work hard for the things you want, but also knew when to call it quits. Having sacrificed her marriage for her career, she knew when to fight for an opportunity—and when it wasn’t meant to be. Her advice to Career Girls: “Don’t spend time beating on a wall, hoping it becomes a door”

If you need more inspiring fashion forward females why not read our favourite career lessons from Estée Lauder and Audrey Hepburn.

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