We’ve all heard the old maxim: “If you love what you do, you’ll never work another day in your life.”
Dana Spinola, CEO and founder of Fab’rik boutiques, also has heard it and most often from her father. She took it to heart, to her employees, and most recently, to her book, Love What You Do.
Spinola founded Fab’rik in Atlanta, Ga. After months of hard work launching her store of hand-curated fashions, she hosted a fashion show and—satisfied and exhausted—went home. The next day, she returned to her shop, which at the time was housing all of her dreams, to find the windows smashed and literally everything that had been inside – clothes, shoes, cash registers, speakers – gone. And she didn’t have insurance.
She could have quit, but she didn’t. She called her vendors and asked them to replace the inventory that had been stolen on Net 30 terms and promised she would sell it all herself and pay them on time.
The store was located on a busy street in Atlanta – West Peachtree Street NW – and that worked in Spinola’s favor. Every day, she carried fashions out to drivers and took orders for them from their cars. When the 30 days was up, she was still in business.
“That traffic was my saving grace. Every day, I would run clothing out to people, and they would hand me their credit card. That’s hustle. That’s how it all started for me,” she said at the Promax Conference 2019 at the J.W. Marriott at L.A. Live in Los Angeles on Wednesday.
Today, Fab’rik has more than 40 stores and growing, as well as a non-profit, Free Fab’rik, which provides free shopping sprees for women in need. Free Fab’rik also has its own clothing line, Asher, which supports adoptions in Africa. ‘
At Promax on Wednesday morning, Spinola outlined her personal philosophy, which she also shares in Love What You Do.
Here’s a quick sum-up: dream big, hustle hard, stay inspired, wow everyone and lead with heart.
Dreaming big seems easy – it just requires a little time and imagination. But if you think about it, when’s the last time you really dreamed big? And even if you have entertained big dreams, when have you followed through?
“Any project you are ever working on has to start with some big crazy sky’s-the-limit plan,” Spinola said. “And then it has to have some sort of vision to bring it in this world.”
That means actually scheduling time to dream, said Spinola, and if you have a team that’s helping you accomplish this dream, including them on that schedule.
“It’s so important as we become grown-ups to not stop dreaming,” she said. “Employees want bosses that dream big. They want to know that you’ve got some big dream that you believe in for your company and for your team.
OK, you’ve got the dream in place, now you’ve got to hustle. Spinola did it way back when she started her company and she’s still hustling today. That said, also step back and take a little stock of where you are so you don’t burn out and find yourself suddenly forced to take a break. That happened to Spinola as well.
“About a year ago, I crashed really hard and had to take a sabbatical,” she said. “If you are driving around and your car has an engine light on, you are supposed to stop and deal with that and not ignore it. You need to clear out your life so you can do all this amazing work you are supposed to do.”
Part of that is finding ways to keep yourself inspired, and that doesn’t just mean taking a day to go to the beach—although that’s nice too.
“Most people don’t really know what inspires them. They get it confused with the beach,” said Spinola. “I’m going to tell you this: the beach is incredible, you go to the beach and relax and then you come back to email laundry and your life.
“The kind of inspiration I’m talking about is where your soul goes to rest. Mine is learning. I’m inspired by people who are wise,” she said, noting that she likes to listen to podcasts of deep conversations between people.
Next up is to wow everyone, something that Spinola has turned into a KPI (unit of measuring marketing results) at her company.
“At every single one of my stores every single day we think we should wow everyone,” she said. “The top wows are sent in to report and then we whittle it down to what wow is the most powerful. I talk about wow all the time, so much so that people say it’s hard to wow me.”
But wowing someone can be as simple as giving them exactly what they want for their birthday.
Spinola’s team did just that for her.
“People who know me know that my favorite color is white, I love Moscow mules and I love my husband,” she said.
So for her birthday, her team dressed all in white and served Moscow mules and made sure her beloved husband – who’s a lawyer who said he was going to have to be in New York for the day – was there.
“It’s simple. I will never forget that. People will never forget how you make them feel.”
The last, and probably most important core value for Spinola is leading with heart.
She breaks it down this way: What makes your heart beat? That’s your passion. And what makes your heart break? That’s your purpose. Put those two values together and you’ve just created a map for yourself.
“What do you call it when what you love and what the world needs crosses over?” she asks. “It’s a little spot that I’ll call the sweet spot of life. How many of us out there can go out and live in that spot?”
[Images by Memoryscape]