Every successful entrepreneur needs a mentor. Someone to guide them along the way and help in times of need. In fact, a relationship with a mentor is one of the essential relationships every fashion entrepreneur needs. This relationship is key if you want your fashion brand to scale quickly and avoid unnecessary pitfalls along the way.
What is a Mentor?
A mentor is an experienced person who guides, supports, and advises you on how to thrive in a particular area. Your mentor should be someone who has gone down the road you are on and is there to advise you based on their experiences. They show you what they did, what worked for them, and what they learnt on their journey.
As a fashion entrepreneur, your mentor should have enough experience over you to help you avoid costly mistakes. This person should have successfully built a business or helped others do so to be able to help you. Now, your mentor cannot be someone you admire from afar, you have to have an active relationship with the person to call him/her your mentor. Your mentor should know you and your fashion business enough to give advice tailored to your fashion career needs.
Your relationship with your mentor can grow to become lifelong or it might last only for as long as you need to achieve a goal. Whichever way it is, there are some important qualities every good mentor must have, and they include;
7 Important Qualities of an Ideal Fashion Mentor
1. Willingness to Share Expertise, Skills, and Knowledge with You
First of all, your mentor should have expertise in the fashion industry. This means that your mentor should be or have worked in the fashion industry for long enough. While it is possible to get a great mentor who is not in the fashion industry, it is preferable to get one that is in it. If you want to succeed in fashion, an IT person might not be of much help to you.
Your mentor does not have to have all the answers, but have to have several years of experience in the fashion industry and know the ropes of the industry. In addition to this, they should be willing and enthusiastic to teach you what they know without holding back. Your mentor should not be someone who hands over information grudgingly or vaguely.
They should understand where you are in your fashion career journey and be happy to provide you with all you need to move past that stage. A good mentor wants you to benefit from the knowledge and expertise they have gotten over the years. They should always be committed to share it with you in a way you understand.
2. Active Listener
A mentor that always wants to talk and not listen will do you no good. As a fashion entrepreneur, you should always look out for active listening skills in a mentor. Your mentor should be someone that listens to what you are saying wholeheartedly and asks questions.
You know that your mentor is an active listener when they devote their attention to you during your time together. They do not let themselves get distracted by calls, emails, or other people when in a session with you. Your mentor should also be someone that asks you questions as you speak to clarify what you mean.
Your mentor should ask you questions more than they tell you what to do. They should have enough curiosity about you to want to get all the information they need to help you.
3. Ability to Provide Honest and Constructive Feedback
Everyone requires feedback to grow. As a fashion entrepreneur, you must find someone that is willing to give you tough love when you need it. Your mentor should be someone who does not shy away from giving you honest and constructive feedback.
Also, they should be able to give you this feedback in a positive manner. Your mentor should not be someone that always leaves you feeling discouraged and hopeless. With their knowledge, they should be able to give you feedback and every meeting to help you grow as an entrepreneur. They help you see your strengths and identify your shortcomings and find ways to help you be more successful in areas you have failed.
This is why a good mentor must have great communication skills. With these skills, they are better able to pass across their message to you.
4. Respectful and Respected
Respect is an important element for a mentor-mentee relationship. As much as you respect your mentor, your mentor should also respect you. This is something you should look out for in them. Your mentor should not be someone who criticises you harshly and unconstructively. They should also know not to mistreat you.
A good mentor is emotionally intelligent and know how to pass across information in the best way possible. They should be able to treat you with respect and empathy and also understand both your emotions and theirs. Your mentor should not be one who talk down on you or tells you about others’ shortcomings. Instead, they should treat everyone right.
Also, your mentor should be respected by their colleagues and employees. If they are not well-respected by others, chances are that you will get the guidance you hoped for. Being with a respected person in the industry will give you the much-needed credibility you crave for.
5. Values Growth and Encourages You to Step out of Your Comfort Zone
The fashion industry changes very rapidly. The fashion landscape today is different from what it was 10 years ago and it won’t be the same 10 years from now. A good mentor know this and is continually open to growth and learning. Great mentors never stop learning.
They invest time in learning about the new practices in the fashion industry. They will also take the time to research on questions or problems you face that they don’t have the answers to. This shows that they are committed to learning with you.
Also, a good mentor know how to get you out of your comfort zone because they know you cannot grow in it. They help you develop activities, in line with your goals, that will force you to grow.
6. Approachable and Non-judgemental
Your mentor should be someone you are not afraid to talk to but should be friendly, gracious, and kind. If you think your mentor is unapproachable, you will not be able to speak to them freely. When you mess up, you should be able to go back to your mentor without unnecessary fear.
Also, they should be non-judgemental in their conversations with you. If you constantly feel like your mentor will judge you harshly for every mistake you make, you will shrink back fro opening up fully to them. Get someone that provides you a safe space to share new ideas and discuss problems.
7. Exhibits an Interest in the Relationship
Very importantly, a good mentor should show genuine interest in your relationship with them. They should show that they are committed to your mentor-mentee relationship and are invested in your growth.
In addition to this, they should be available to you and have regular meetings with you. They know that it will take time for results to show and are patient enough to see it happen.
Riding on the wings of others guarantees you greater success in your fashion business. As a you step out there looking for a mentor, make sure they have all these traits and are ready to help you become the best version of yourself.