Transparency or…. Vulnerability?

So if you follow me on Instagram stories, then you know I was at a really cool event this weekend.

Reformation recently opened here in San Francisco {this deserves a whole post on it’s own because the store experience is next level & very interactive}, & they hosted a sustainability & business panel on Saturday that I was lucky to be invited to.

I’m always fascinated to hear business advice from the CEO themselves. Yael Aflalo, the founder & bossbabe of Reformation, was on two of the three panels. Well, she said something that had me straight shook.

I could not stop thinking about it all weekend & honestly? It’s a reason why I’m so late at this post today because it has been lingering in my mind all day that I HAVE to share it with you guys.

It’s advice for business owners and creatives… and honestly…. life advice too.

Ok, you ready? It’s actually quite simple & very to the point.

She said something along the lines of {disclaimer: i didn’t write it down even though I should of}:

“Don’t be transparent. Be vulnerable. It’s very easy to be ‘transparent’ when things are going well, however it might not be relatable. Vulnerability shows you are a person behind the business & it’s what people want to see.”

I literally froze when I heard this. I never thought about it but she was 100% right.

She had a great example about sending out a Reformation newsletter with the goals update. On one of them, she said she did not make the goal by a long shot to something very important to her brand and reconsidered sending it in an e-mail. However, she decided against it & sent it. After all, goals are the bigger picture. If you don’t attain it, it’s okay & more fuel to the fire. More importantly, being raw & open to her customers and subscribers was more important & far more rewarding… & leads to trust & loyalty.

People want to hear the raw process, the struggle, the story… but more importantly? They want truth sans the sugar coating… which will only give you a headache.

It’s not about being just transparent…And the word “transparent” – hell, that’s a word you see me say often on the blog. In fact, I’ve used that word in 20 posts. What does it even mean though?

Transparency is being straight up, while vulnerability means diving deeper, making yourself susceptible to the judgement and feelings of others…Which honestly… is really fucking scary to do when you decide to blog but it reminds anyone reading this that there is a human behind the screen.

These days, everything is so curated & it’s so easy to fall into the comparison trap {i see you, instagram #GUILTYASCHARGED} where the vulnerability can really be refreshing… & leads to empathy.

At the end of the day, we are all human beings just trying to make it. While it’s sexy to be “transparent”, vulnerability isn’t so easy but is what creates community & helps cut through the static of percieved perfection which there is PLENTY of online.

Keep things raw, keep things real.

More people will relate than you think & it creates relationships. In fact, the accounts I personally engage with {which is the start to a lot of my online friendships & relationships} are the most vulnerable & open ones vs the constant pretty pictures in front of a brick wall… though don’t get me wrong, I did spent all day Sunday posing in front of brick walls. #yawn

ANYWAYS it is amazing how much I got out of that one thought alone & something I am still ruminating on.

OK I hope you got as much out of that one blurb as I did!!

Thoughts? would love to hear from you – weigh in!

xx Shannon

+++ jeans here {similar} , top here, holographic slides here, beer here

  • Chelsea

    love this.. so true and great to keep in mind through our creative process! as we discussed haha.. rad quote though, thank you for sharing your take.

    • Thanks Chelsea! I appreciate your note. I totally agree, in fact vulnerability can really be the catalyst to the creative process! x Shannon

  • this is such a great post, I have heard of that store Reformation before. That is awesome you went to the opening

    • Thanks, Laura! Reformation is incredible – one of my all time favourite brands!! x Shannon

  • I was so bummed to have missed this event! Sounds like it was such an inspiring event!


    Tamara –

    • It was amazing!! You HAVE to go to the store in The Mission. It’s seriously so cool. They try to make it like online shopping in store & it is so interactive. LMK if you ever want to go!!! x

  • Shannon, I appreciate you sharing this. Being vulnerable is something that I struggle with a lot when it comes to the blog. I appreciate the reminder that those vulnerable moments are what connect people.

    Cheers, J

    • Jenna, I totally feel you. It’s something that seems so easy but it is very tough & scary. Like you said, it truly is what connects people & strengthens relationships! x Shannon

  • Emily Soto

    This is a great post. Thank you for sharing!

  • That is such a great post! And I love what she said about being vulnerable!

    Belle | One Awesome Momma

    • Thanks Belle! I appreciate the love 🙂 so good, right?? It’s something that can really connect us all in such a deeper way! x

  • Shruthi R. Parker

    Shannon. I freaking love this. I wholeheartedly agree with the difference between the two and how much harder it is to be vulnerable, especially behind a screen. <3 I think it's a skill to build and not everyone has it but you sure do 🙂

    • Shruthi, you are so sweet! Thank you so much for the kind words, I’m flattered! It’s interesting because before she said it, I kind of associated transparency & vulnerability to be the same thing but liek you said, it’s a skill to build on. Appreciate the comment babe! x

  • Gisel Luna

    That’s such an interesting insight! I’m so glad you shared it, because I feel like so many people confuse transparency and vulnerability on social media. Great post!

    Gisel |

    • I TOTALLY agree – ESPECIALLY with social media. Vulnerability helps give us the gentle reminder that we are all humans behind the screens! Thanks so much for reading babe!! x

  • I loved this post #1 I AM SO WITH YOU! I love just letting lose and speaking the truth, it can be difficult to do BUT sometimes its so much easier to be real! Love your honesty girlie! xo C

    Courtney B ||

    • THANKS BABE & thanks for your constant love and support. It’s funny, it’s easy to be transparent when things are good but that’s where vulnerability can help others relate. Love you babe! x

  • Deepti Karulkar

    I love this post!!! It is so well written and well thought out. Also, I totally agree on being the real, raw you!

    Deepti xx |

    • Thanks Deepti! I really appreciate the love. I totally agree, it’s what bonds us all together!! Thanks for reading, babe! x Shannon


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  • business cas 💾 even tho it’s almost June and still hoodie weather here in San Francisco but I lowkey kinda like it 🌁 #champagnegetup
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