An interview with Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program alumna Stefanie Tacata, CEO of Stateless Fashion Design & Consulting in New York City.
First things first – tell us a little bit about yourself and your business. My name is Stefanie Tacata and I’m the CEO of Stateless Fashion Design & Consulting based in NYC and established in 2015 by me and my wife. For early-stage apparel-based companies, Stateless is an outsourced design, development, and production solution. Our cross-functional team from companies like Gap Inc., Ralph Lauren, Nike, etc. can be outsourced for at least half the cost of building one in-house. Our partnership allows founders to focus on what’s important in today’s digitally driven world: building brand equity and driving sales.
How did the negotiations module shift your perspective? Besides the actionable learnings about business negotiations (which were plentiful), I learned that the art of negotiation is the art of being human and building relationships. I realized that when two people find the point where their respective desires meet, and if these two people maintain authenticity to their values, the negotiation can be deemed successful. With this in mind, I’m starting to see negotiation in almost all of my day-to-day communications with colleagues, friends, and even my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter!
What were you surprised to learn about yourself from the negotiations module? I was surprised to learn that I love negotiating! But it makes sense now because I love building relationships and learning from others’ experiences. The information stage is so crucial to successful negotiation, and in this stage, you actively listen, pay attention, and process others’ points of view. The information stage is akin to building friendships and since I love making new friends, I love this stage the most.
How do you stay motivated when faced with challenges and uncertainty? I used to blame myself for any perceived failures, which was overwhelming and detrimental to overcoming obstacles. So, in the name of successfully overcoming challenges, I’ve learned to be as easy on myself as possible. Honestly, I’m still in the process of internalizing self-forgiveness. But my motivation comes from recognizing that I am the leader of my company, family, etc. and I can’t waste energy beating myself up while trying to navigate the ship through rough waters.
What has been your biggest learning from the pandemic? That my family is everything. When my wife and I were faced with the real possibility that our company (our only source of income) might not exist overnight, I looked in the proverbial mirror on March 22, 2020 and saw myself as a person. Only a person. Not an entrepreneur or CEO, or businesswoman. And in this self-audit, my most valuable assets weren’t my contracts or cash on hand, but my wife and daughter.
What is your process for making a crucial business decision? I first evaluate the odds of the decision-producing a return. I then cross-reference that with the ease of execution. I never like to boil the ocean. If the odds of producing a return are over 50%, and if the next steps are actionable and clear, then my decision is made.
Where do you find your peace and balance? In daydreaming. I know it sounds cliché, but I find peace and balance in knowing that I have the power to manifest what I want in life. This probably speaks to why entrepreneurship is my chosen path, because at its core, entrepreneurship affords the freedom to dream.
What is a piece of advice you wish you could give to your younger self? I would tell myself that life isn’t something that happens to you; it’s something you create with every decision you make.
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editor's note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.