In the fall of 2016, Hannah Nodskov was in her final semester at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, studying entrepreneurship and marketing. She was also having a “weird crisis,” as she calls it.
Her goal for the last three years had been to graduate and run her fashion design business, Hannah Caroline Couture, full time. Which sounds ideal, until one thing after another continued
Ultimately, that led to the crisis she found herself in– the realization that maybe it wasn’t her dream to be a fashion designer anymore.
She says she felt burnt out. Being a 21-year-old running a fashion brand, finishing your last semester of college, and planning a wedding could have that effect on anyone.
“Pulling an all-nighter when I had a test the next day was not unusual,” she says of this time in her life. “It was a series of little moments. Every time I would agree to an order I didn’t love, it would be soul-sucking.”
The burnout prompted her decision at the time to take a hiatus from her brand to focus on her September nuptials and find a better work-life balance.
She says she constantly felt guilty for relaxing, thinking it was more important to make money than anything else. It left her feeling she was always apologizing for missing events to work.
“It’s common in entrepreneurship to get burnt out, and no one talks about it,” she says. “You just tell everybody it’s perfect all the time.”
While taking a much-needed break from her business, Nodskov stayed busy with a new job at tech startup Interface: The Web School, and planning her wedding. She was also making all the men’s bowties, bridesmaids dresses, mothers’ dresses, and her bridal gown for the big day.
She adds that wedding planning definitely affected her decision to take her fashion brand in a new direction. The idea of creating a bridal collection came to her gradually, she says.
Another defining moment on her journey of self-discovery came when she entered Max I. Walker’s Ultra Chic Boutique Dress Flip Contest in January.
Designers were tasked with taking an unwanted prom, bridesmaid, or formal dress and making it into a new dress. Nodskov says it was the first time she made something for fun in two years.
From there she knew she wanted to spend the remainder of her hiatus refining her brand’s image and core values. She says she thought a lot about what types of orders still brought her joy and remaking that prom dress came to mind.
“I want to make pieces for moments that are special and should be celebrated,” she says. “I want to focus on bridal, special occasion, and formalwear with an emphasis in plus-size and alternative bridal styles.”
The woman she designs for is a bride who wants to break all the traditional wedding expectations for what a dress should look like. A woman who is powerful or in a position of leadership. A woman who is a role models for others. A woman who wants to stand out when she enters a room. A woman who is empowered.
The woman Nodskov is in the process of becoming.
She says her next big challenge is figuring out who she is, separate from her fashion brand. She adds how much she learned about herself from her first job out of college at Interface: The Web School.
Right now, she really loves working at tech startup ScoreVision as a marketing communications specialist. She plans to enjoy it for a while and figure out the parts of her job she really likes before deciding what’s next. She adds that she does have plans to relaunch her fashion brand
after the holidays.
Nodskov is forever grateful she didn’t get accepted to the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York City because that’s how she ended up at UNO studying business. She says it’s the “best decision she didn’t make on purpose.”
“I love living in Omaha,” she says. “I feel connected to the startup community here. I’m able to invite people from the fashion community to get involved because there’s so much support, and it’s so welcoming. It doesn’t matter how big your business is.”
Nodskov would love to see the fashion industry start educating designers on the technical aspects of how to grow their businesses instead of only teaching them how to design clothes.
“Having a business education makes me think differently about my fashion brand than someone coming from a design perspective,” she says. “When I design something, I’ll think, ‘that’s pretty, but how am I going to sell it?’ I’ll think about the pricing strategy and marketing that needs to go into the garment.”
Since starting her business more than six years ago, Nodskov has come to the realization that there’s only “so much you can learn about entrepreneurship sitting in a classroom. You have to experience it.”
Visit hccdesign.co for more information.
This article published in the January/February 2018 edition of Encounter.