There is one thing that Michèle Lamy and Iris Apfel have in common.  They have no fear of standing out and being different.

Iris and her husband started Old World Weavers in 1950, a company specialising in restorational furnishings – now the nonagenarian has her own documentary and is involved in the fashion industry all over the world. Iris style is BOLD, big, colourful and very “more is more”! Michèle Lamy is a jewelry designer and wife of her protégé turned husband Rick Owens.  Michèle by comparison has a dark bewitching presence about her.  You can feel the confidence and sass just looking at photos of her.

Iris shrugs, chomping on her chewing gum. “I think some people like me because I’m different. I don’t think like everybody else. People are so tied up in the worst parts of technology these days. They live a life pressing buttons. They don’t use their imaginations.”

Why be outrageous

You don’t have to look different to be outrageous.  Simply doing one thing that everyone else you know is NOT doing creates this wave of separation.  Creativity is a brave expression of our true selves, but in society that creative expression is very individual, and anything seen as individual is non conformist or even outrageous.

“The voice of our original self is often muffled, overwhelmed, even strangled, by the voices of other people’s expectations.”
Julia Cameron Author of the amazing book you should all read “The Artist’s Way

Define your Outrageous any way you like, remembering that by being yourself, you are radically creative and this will get noticed in a world of cookie cutter expectations and societal norms.  Break out of the “go to school, get a good job, work your way up the rest of you life, white picket fence, 2.5 kids”.  You are amazing – and to me, Outrageous is when you step outside of any of these things – they are simply just stereotypes! Rules for the sake of – the ways it’s always been?

“Most of us are not raised to actively encounter our destiny. We may not know that we have one. As children, we are seldom told we have a place in life that is uniquely ours alone. Instead, we are encouraged to believe that our life should somehow fulfill the expectations of others, that we will (or should) find our satisfactions as they have found theirs. Rather than being taught to ask ourselves who we are, we are schooled to ask others. We are, in effect, trained to listen to others’ versions of ourselves. We are brought up in our life as told to us by someone else! When we survey our lives, seeking to fulfill our creativity, we often see we had a dream that went glimmering because we believed, and those around us believed, that the dream was beyond our reach. Many of us would have been, or at least might have been, done, tried something, if… If we had known who we really were.”
Julia Cameron

I don’t have any rules, because I would only be breaking them, so it’s a waste of time

― Iris Apfel

Rules like Iris so succinctly puts can prevent us developing our full potential, unlocking a talent or skill that we might  – What are the societal norms that dictate how one should grow up to be or do?!  Everyone grows up with some expectations lingering over them, but having the courage to shrug this off and make up our own rules, have our own expectations of ourselves is brave, and even vulnerable.  Ultimately we have to live with ourselves, no one else knows the intimate thoughts and feelings we have in our own heads.  

Why be different

What can you expect if you choose to stand out and be different? Will you be feel alone? Probably, but only till you find your community of other breaking out of the mold of the norm.  Will your intentions and creativity be understood? Count on it.

When you don’t dress like everybody else, you don’t have to think like everybody else. ― Iris Apfel

Iris Apfel

All of it will be worth it.  It IS worth it – a thousand times over. To the people you help and to your happiness in life, there is no alternative. You have to be true to yourself, against all odds. This is the most satisfying and fulfilling thing – just look again to my two favourite women in this article – Michèle Lamy and Iris Apfel.

How to grow the confidence to stand out

Fear is the biggest thing that holds anyone back from being authentically themselves, brave or different.  What will that other person say? If you’ve ever caught yourself thinking or feeling this, stop and ask yourself – who are you living your life FOR?  What is it that makes you happy, what do you enjoy doing? Then, how many hours out of every day do you spend doing those things? As soon as you define and actually decide to take control and ownership of these times, the hours and days we have to exist, what you’re doing with them and why – this is when the fear of that judgment begins drops away. For me it was as simple as deciding, “I want to make a difference, and to this specific group of people.”  That is never going to happen for me stuck in concrete cubicle jungle exchanging my services for a monthly paycheck.  I want to receive checks of gratitude, see the work I’ve done for others multiplying and going onto much bigger things. I wanted to do that with bright hair, my quirky sense of style and embrace all the hippy, pagan, Buddhist, witchy, creative, and alternative aspects of my life.  I see myself as a successful, “not-really-adult – adult-ing!”.

I just never want to completely grow up.

Iris Apfel

I want the things I do to speak for themselves – My passions and creativity to make, create, design and build not being held back by what my parents think I should be doing with my life, or my acquaintances, or the person who sits next to me when I’m working on a project.  If I am not scared to be who I am, how much more powerful will the work I do for others then become?

You have to be interested. If you’re not interested, you can’t be interesting.

Iris Apfel

Iris Apfel

I’ve probably read more books since I started working for myself now than I have voluntarily in the my entire life to date (and I was a bookworm who read at night under the sheets).  Aside from feeling a little overwhelmed with such large amounts of action that was suggested and finding the direction to this action that suited me best, this one book has made the biggest impact on my self awareness, the fear of not being myself – Outrageous and creative.  Remember Outrageous can be as different or as creative as you wish to define it yourself!

“Basic Principles:

  1. Creativity is the natural order of life. Life is energy: pure creative energy.
  2. There is an underlying, in-dwelling creative force infusing all of life — including ourselves.
  3. When we open ourselves to our creativity, we open ourselves to the creativity within us and our lives.
  4. We are, ourselves, creations. And we, in turn, are meant to continue creativity by being creative ourselves.
  5. Creativity is the Universe’s gift to us. Using our creativity is our gift back.
  6. The refusal to be creative is self-will and is counter to our true nature.
  7. When we open ourselves to exploring our creativity, we open ourselves to the Universe: good orderly direction.
  8. As we open our creative channel to the creator, many gentle but powerful changes are to be expected.
  9. It is safe to open ourselves up to greater and greater creativity.
  10. Our creative dreams and yearnings come from a divine source. As we move toward our dreams, we move toward our divinity.”
  11. Julia Cameron Author – “The Artist’s Way”


Why not being afraid to be different is so vital when you work for yourself
Working for yourself takes GUTS, determination, and an endless stream of perseverance and energy.  It’s fun, exciting, and amazingly rewarding too, especially if you have endeavoured to align what you do for “work” with what makes you happy, and how that helps others. Doing something you enjoy leads to a better quality result, a better product and a better experience for the person, or people it affects or impacts.  Be it those working around you, your clients or the loved ones in your life.  Being sure of YOU, what you stand for or even just knowing you have a voice – sharing this with others, connects, unites and drives success. And being sure of what you stand for and your voice gives you the confidence to keep at it, keep working, keep being Outrageous and different till you succeed.

Success is sharing the joy that comes from being yourself, with others and helping them learn too.

Michele Lamy

“A certain style, a certain way of working — that’s what creates the tribe. It’s not the clothes, or technical things. It’s the way of holding yourself in a different way.”

― Michèle Lamy


Iris Apfel Photo Credit: Getty Images