What is Failure?

When I was a child and young adult I carried around an incredible amount of “guilt”. Looking back now as a rounded adult I realize it was less about me and more to do with not having a solid support system behind my fragile developing self. But man, that guilt tore me apart for years! I felt like I wasn’t enough, I felt like I had made so many mistakes growing up. I had a weight that I carried for so many years. It wasn’t until I was somewhere around maybe 23 it hit me, “I was a child”. I realized it was actually the adults in my childhood life that needed to take responsibility for this weight not me. It took a bit of reminding on my part but telling myself “I was a child” over and over eventually helped me let go. Now, years later, I hardly even remember what the actual events and what I felt were failures that caused a young me so much stress were. 


I guess this growing is a product of age also being able to re-evaluate exactly what “failure” is. Spending a decade in the music and now startup industries has me thinking of this often. There’s so many articles on the “success of failure” in the silicon valley even a conference on failing now! It’s true these businesses you fail more than you succeed. Fact is 90% of the startups I work with won’t be around 5 years from now like many of the bands and musicians I started my career with so many years ago. Does it make me sad? Sure, but I’m starting to challenge the idea of what a “failure” actually is. 

Because you never became famous as a musician but created some amazing art and lasting relationships over that years does that mean you failed in the music industry? Because your startup folded after giving everything you had into it for a long time but in turn gave you the experience to make your next startup succeed or the knowledge to rock your next position, did you fail? Does all success have to be measured financially? 

Like so many things in this world I’m learning it’s prospective. 

I recently had to take step back and evaluate a part of my life in this way. If you’ve been on this adventure with us since arriving in LA you know Wilson and I attempted to launch a coconut oil company “ilubeu”. We were excited to dive head first into a product that we not only adored but was personal to us and we believed in. For five months we pushed the idea. We designed and set up a store, we visited factories and tested samples, we even began selling. We did everything short of ordering our first wholesale batch. 

To get that first batch in the door was a huge financial investment. One we couldn’t personally make after me being sick and out of work for so long. We launched a pre-sale where some wonderful friends supported us. When that fell short we started talking to a couple investors. Yet, all the leads went dry. 

I realized one day I had a decision to made. Keep pushing ahead maybe invest every penny we had (stupid) to get this off the ground or take a step back, listen to the universe and put our dream on hold. Being I’ve been working on patience these days my soul knew what the right decision was. So I took down the site, refunded the pre-sale people, and swallowed my pride. 

Now, this could have turned into another “failure” (you know the kind that gives you a “UGH yuck chill” when you think of it) but I’m choosing to not see it that way. We took a risk and started building a dream. Sure it didn’t turn out how we hoped but is it really failure? We learned a lot along the way about developing a product, we felt an overwhelming love with the people who supported the pre-sale, and you know I also was a bit distracted and felt hopeful for the project during the hardest part of my illness which is a blessing in itself. Rather than choosing to focus on the “failure” and stress that comes with it we are choosing to focus on the pride in “we tried”. 

And I’m so happy we took the path we did because a few weeks ago after we took steps to close the project down we opened one of the last sample pieces we had left over of the oil packets. We were shocked to find the oil had “changed”. It no longer had the light yummy coconut smell and taste but a darker smokey scent now. We thanked our lucky stars we didn’t order the first batch of 25,000 pieces because if we had we would have about 20,000 spoiled packs on our hands and a lot of money down the drain. We let the universe guide us and even if we didn’t understand at the time it paid off preventing us from making a horrible financial mistake! We understand now! 

The idea of ilubeu isn’t being forgotten about all together though. Someday maybe when it’s less of a risk and we have more funds to invest in package testing and lab work we’ll come back to the project. I would love to down the road but right now we’re listening to what the universe is telling us! (UK UK UK!).

I felt such love from the pre-sale purchases I decided these lovely people deserved something special for their support. So last weekend G and I headed out to the fabric district to find some materials to make something love filled. We ended up finding some wonderful bracelet materials, beads, and the cutest hand made tiny cards. We took time to braid and create little gifts for our friends. We celebrated the support they gave us with each knot. Taking the time to fill each piece with love and gratitude before packing them up to be sent out all over the  world. 




I’m hoping as I figure out this “embracing failure risk with success” to be able to support G in her dreams as she grows. I want her to know mistakes are not negative if you learn and grow from them. Also make sure there’s a solid line between adult worries vs child worries. Parenting is wonderful for us adults isn’t it? Gives us the prospective to not only grow and learn about our own self and childhoods but an opportunity to embrace change and make the world a better place through positive parenting. Magical 2nd chances every single day. 

Kirby Costa Campos