Interview with Naomi Thompson for V&OAK

HOW I DID IT: Bullet Points for Success

Naomi Thompson, author of Style Me Vintage Clothes, and renowned expert on vintage style has experienced huge success, appearing in some of the country’s biggest magazines and newspapers, radio shows and TV channels. This issue, she reveals her hard-earned tips for making your venture work for you.

Success can work in mysterious, and often karmic ways. I’ve not always got it right but the learning curve has proved fruitful. Here are some of the
best lessons I have learnt. Whatever you do, carve your own path and don’t be afraid of your own capabilities.

ALWAYS THINK BIG

I’ve always been a bit of a fantasist. I used to have fun thinking up the wildest achievements I could think of. I’d picture myself doing them, being in the moment – imagining how I would feel. To date all my little day dreams have all happened. After Style Me Vintage Clothes came out my agent said to me “what’s your next goal?” I said ‘Women’s Hour’. She looked at me sympathetically. The email asking to do a whole segment with me came through a week later. Is it luck? Possibly but I
think there is a lot to be said for positive mental attitude. Equally don’t limit
yourself geographically. In some ways trying to be a big fish in a small pond is more work than trying to hop into the big pond as you are limiting your possibilities.

LESS IS MORE

Do less, and do it better. Finish one job before you start another unless you fancy having a back log of tedious loose ends. Having too many projects on the go at once is not conducive to sustainable success. Take every good opportunity you can but if someone has to tell you “it’s a fantastic opportunity for you,” it’s probably not.

BE PREPARED TO LET GO

I only learnt the true value of this lesson relatively recently. You can’t control everything and you will make yourself sick trying. Plus wonderful positive things can
happen unexpectedly when life is left a little more to chance.

COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS

I love this saying: ‘the happiest people are not those who have the most, but those who make the most of what they have’. Balance is everything. Having a newborn reminds me on a daily basis that humans, not emails, social media or projects, come first.

SUCCESS IS SUBJECTIVE AND CYCLICAL

My most miserable period to date probably came when I was in the most demand. On paper I had it all, yet on hindsight I do not see it as a period of success. I was saying yes to everything and giving myself a nervous breakdown at each engagement as I was also feeling insecure, anxious and worn out. This phase lasted about a year, and it took me another year of doing relatively little to build myself back up again. Having to stop everything and leave the hub of London felt like the ultimate failure at the time but it was absolutely the right decision. This time round I have laid better foundations. Don’t build your castles on sand. I’m much happier now that I have more control over my output.

LISTEN TO YOURSELF. BE YOURSELF. WORK FOR YOURSELF

Always listen to your conscience and follow your instinct. It’s a mental security net that I find gives me confidence in my decision making. Pushing my instinct to one side has always come back to bite me in the bum. Monitor your motivation. Are you doing something to prove a point? For validation or approval? Truly working for yourself is about taking on the projects you want to do. Be original, bring your own flair to what you do and this will make you stand out head and shoulders above the rest.