What happened to your dream of becoming a fashion designer?

What happened to your dream of becoming a fashion designer?

 
Yes!  What happened to that dream?!  Year in year out we hear the same old story…. don’t worry in the New Year I will definitely pursue it.  Come first January, you get all gingered up!  Yes this time I’ll do it!  Then half way through the year, the excuses have piled up simply because of the FEAR that is deep within you.  This time next year, you will still tell the same story.  Aren’t you exhausted already?!  Imagine what will happens 10 years down the line when you are filled with regret?!
 
I remember when I was planning to resign to go to fashion school.  Everyone supported me but a few said:
 
“why not wait to get married first?”
“why not wait to complete ICAN?”
“why not add more to your work experience?”
 
You know what went through my mind?!  As they were telling me those things, I had my own answers ready for them.

 

 

“what if I stay and I still don’t get married in 3 years?”
“what if they keep changing the syllabus and the time it takes to complete it gets longer?”
“well… I can always find work when I’m there or even when I’m back”
 
 
The truth is there will never be a right time to get things done.  You just have to take the bull by the horn.  I know my sister was worried things would have changed in 3 years.  3 years sounded sooooo long to her to leave and return to expect things to remain the way they were.  
 
But guess what?!  I have gone and come back – it’s all done and dusted now!  In fact fashion school is now but a memory after all I left in 2009!  Almost 7 years ago now!  And all the “why not”s now seem so irrelevant now.  
 
–  I am now married;
–  Ok granted I didn’t finish ICAN but what the heck! I can always pay an accountant to get the job done for me; and if I even really feel like doing it, I can start again or even choose to do ACCA now but like my sister told me, what do you need it for?!
–  Please the experience I have in running a business is on another level!  Gosh who would ever have thought right?!
 
So really those stories will remain stories till you do something about it!  And with the way the economy is going with people getting laid off…  you really don’t want to wake up tomorrow to get a termination letter or SMS with no Plan B – especially if you have a family to feed!  It is time to plan ahead while the going is good!
 
And that is why NOW is as good a time as any to stop procrastination in its tracks!
Why do we designers / tailors have SUCH a bad reputation around here?!

Why do we designers / tailors have SUCH a bad reputation around here?!

From Twitter…

Chei!  We “tailors” have suffered! Lol!  This seems to be the constant song around here!  Why oh why are we now the SI unit for lies, dishonesty and disappointment?!  

I was still talking about this same issue on the Martwayne Facebook group a few weeks back (yes we do have one for sharing ideas, seeking advice on anything fashion related that is bothering us and also asking for critiques on our work – you can click here to join us Join our Martwayne Facebook Group) and made a mental note to write about this topic.  I had procrastinated on it for so long until I saw this meme on Twitter:


… and I said to myself “okay nah… enough is enough.  It’s high time I addressed this on the blog”.

Yes oh… I won’t lie.. I laughed and laughed when I saw it!  I really could not stop laughing.  But as hilarious as it is, and sad as it is to admit…. it actually is true!  It is a really serious issue around here! And truth be told, this awful reputation is really wrecking our reputation as professionals – and believe it or not… our businesses as well!






You will notice that I keep using “we”.  Yes because around here, anyone who churns out clothes for people on a bespoke or customised level is called a “tailor” regardless of whether they are a fashion designer or a seamstress.  So for the sake of this article, I am lumping all of us together and of course using the term “tailor” very loosely.

I have been on both sides – on the customer side and on the designer / tailor side as well.  I have been both a victim and a perpetrator (if that is the correct word to use).  Victim because that was the real reason I went into fashion, perpetrator because I also held on to people’s clothes and at some point even offered refunds simply because I could not deliver on some of the work in record time.  So I am not here preaching to you or casting stones.  

But one thing I can tell you for free was, for every single time I did not deliver, it was because I was sooooo eager to please, I simply could not say NO even when I knew I could not deliver.  You know around here, saying no is sometimes misconstrued as incompetence.  So for the sake of being seen as a superhero, I would take on the work and work myself into a frenzy until I finally broke down!  Or worse, found just anyone who could sew lines together and they ended up wrecking my work even more!  I can never forget when I had to repeat a particular jacket 3 times or when I missed a very good friend’s wedding simply because I did not want to disappoint someone who wanted to wear that jacket that weekend!  Not only did I not attend the wedding, I still did not deliver so what was really the point?!

But then again, the disappointment our customers face even go beyond not delivering!  Most complain that even after wasting so much time, the clothes are crap!  The finishing is awful and the clothes just do not fit and they wonder why on earth it took you so long to deliver crap!  And yes, I have been there as well!  The sheer horror on my face when my tailor delivered clothes that were only big enough to fit a barbie doll!  

So being on both sides of the fence and from talking to designers on things that go wrong – and yes everything that can go wrong does go wrong – I thought it would be good to talk on just 5 things that could perhaps save us from this constant embarrassment and insults we keep getting from everyone!

Image from https://loanscanada.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/5-tips-mortgage.jpg

So here are 5 tips on keeping your sanity, your reputation, your customers and of course your bottom line in check! 

1.  Never promise on what you know you cannot deliver on!

Yes no matter the puppy eyes they give you, do not give in!  You know why?!  When you do not deliver, they will not admit or even care that they gave you the clothes only 2 days before!  And why should they?!  You agreed to deliver so they are holding you to it!

By now you should have an idea of the number of jobs you have on ground and how long it typically takes you to deliver.  Whatever time it takes, please add an extra week or two to it?!  You know why?!  Because anything and I mean anything that can go wrong can go wrong when you least expect it!  Your generator can break down, your machine can break down, your tailor can break down, heck even you can break down!  Does the customer care?!  NO!  They don’t!  And really, they should not!

Have that policy in place and stick to it!  Anyone who knows they have a wedding and they want you to churn out the clothes for them should bring it 2 or even 3 weeks before not 2 days before the event!  And no don’t think offering them express “this one time” will work!  If you can deliver once, it automatically means you can deliver again and it will never stop!

As I learnt in KPMG, it is better to under-promise and over-deliver than vice versa!  Stick to your guns always!

2.  Always insist on a fitting! 

Yes many of them do not like coming for fittings I agree.  But I always say, it all depends on how you portrayed your business from Day 1.  Someone on the Group stated that when you ask a customer to come for a fitting, they seem to think you are not good enough – else you would get it right one time!

You know what I say to that?!  How many brides sit at home hoping the dress fit one time?!  Aren’t they the ones who keep harassing you that they want to try on their dresses just in case anything happens, it can be fixed before the day?!  



Fittings are standard practice globally!  Can you see?  This is our very own Deola Sagoe fitting a dress.  Will we say Deola Sagoe is not good at what she does or do we think she is incompetent?!  Far from it!  We all know she is GREAT at what she does but guess what?!  She still has to do a fitting so errors can be corrected before finalising the dress.  If she still does a fitting despite how fab she is and her client can still come in for a fitting, why can’t you?!

Please please please insist on a fitting.  You are better off someone thinking you are incompetent and you then dazzle them with the perfection of your work than you being embarrassed they will think you don’t know what you are doing and then you prove them right!  If they don’t want to come to you, then please go to them.  You can even bill them for it!  But guess what?!  If things go wrong, then like @cherox said, they will stay up all night thinking of how to lynch you!  And put it up on twitter! And you will be lucky if they do not call you out and wreck your reputation!  So you are better off being safe than sorry!

3.  Please document all discussions and agreements! 

I cannot stress this enough!  In fact better still, sign a contract or an agreement if possible!  This is key if you want to save yourself and keep your sanity!  In fact, ensure that contract even has pictures of what you both agreed!  Honestly, you will save yourself a whole lot of headache!  Because some customers will come halfway through and claim they never asked you to use red thread.  Then it now becomes a “he said she said” matter.  Something else I learnt from KPMG.  Document everything!  Screenshots, snapshots, signature under the very design, everything!  And that contract must include a penalty for gaining weight or losing weight or changing your design half way though the order.

And please, collect 85% of your money upfront.  But also put in the contract that if you mess up, they get something back – because it won’t be fair of you to collect all the money and then mess up!

But yes, documentation is key!  I cannot stress it enough!  And if they don’t want to sign, then you better ensure all your conversations are via WhatsApp, email or Blackberry so you can take screen shots as evidence in case things go wrong!  Honestly it will save you like you cannot imagine!

4.  Please EDUCATE your customer!

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-G-MWf8mMmOk/ViPxpQNQnlI/AAAAAAAAQXA/T79XSTdr960/s1600/the%2Bwhole%2Bpurpose%2Bof%2Beducating%2Byour%2Bcustomer%2Bis%2Bto%2Bachieve%2Bthe%2Bresult%2Bthey%2Bwant.png


In fact I couldn’t have said it better myself!  

Most think they know how things work!  I always tell my students – especially the beginners “I bet you now have a renewed respect for your tailor right”?!  And the answer is always the same – YES!  Many clients think they know but they do not know!  You need to tell them – actually teach them how things work!

If you are working with an invisible zip, tell them the pros and cons of using the zips and how to actually work an invisible zip so it does not break.

If they bring you a style to copy – well first if I were you, I would politely refuse to copy.  But if they insist, you need to let them know if the fabric or their body shape will not work with the design.  And either bow out or let them sign a document with a disclaimer.

If they bring a design you do not understand, please bow out if you cannot create it.  Never ever EVER use your customer’s work as a practice run!  Always create a sample first just to see how it will work out and if you cannot deliver, please return it.  I remember during my sister’s engagement, she had given a lady in Canada her engagement outfit to create for her.  After a week or so, the lady returned it saying she could not work with the fabric.  I ended up churning it out for her.  Was my sister disappointed in the lady?!  Probably.  Did the lady save herself?!  Yes!  There really is nothing wrong with saying “I don’t know”.  Yes it might be tough yes and yes they may think you are not that good but trust me, you are better off walking away from the project rather than diving in and getting seriously burnt!

And last but not least…

5.  Please have a conscience when sewing for your customers!  

Your clients deserve a well made garment no matter how little they paid for it!  Do not close your eyes to a bad stitch or awful finishing!  You might think they do not notice but they do!  They probably don’t say anything because they feel that is the best they can get around here.  Sometimes I turn clothes over and I am SHOCKED at what I see on the inside and you want them to pay you and not scream at the work?!  How?!  They paid for a service and they deserve the best!  Please give them a top-notch outfit!

Okies that’s about it!  Of course I could go on and on but I will stop here!  It will take a very long time to rid ourselves of this reputation but if we start one day, before we know it, the effects will be felt and our customers will appreciate it!

Here’s wishing you a good start to the week! 😀

Cheers!

New YouTube Video: “How to Leave Paid Employment to Start Your Clothing Line – Lessons from David Wej”  [A MUST-WATCH for Every Aspiring Fashion Designer!]

New YouTube Video: “How to Leave Paid Employment to Start Your Clothing Line – Lessons from David Wej” [A MUST-WATCH for Every Aspiring Fashion Designer!]

 

 

Hello good people!!!!!!!  I BET you all had a fabulous Valentine’s Day!!!!! Please don’t ask me what I did yesterday.  I can safely tell you that I did absolutely ZILCH for no reason at all!  Sometimes, the best gift of all is the gift of sleep lol! 😀
 

SO!  Today… the post title says it all!  It has been a while since I posted anything relating to “Fashion Beyond Stitches”.  I have been too busy hustling lol!  But I thought today would be as good a time as any to post this looooong overdue video… and by long overdue, I mean this interview was done even before fashion talk!  But since too many people have been resigning recently (Congratulations if you fall into those shoes :-D), I guess there’s no better time than now to post this video!  

Screenshot from www.davidwej.com
 

I know quite a few people watched my last FBS video on “How I Made My Move from Accounting to Fashion”.  If you did not watch it, you can watch it here:


BUT perhaps you were thinking, oh well, it was easy for you, you had no commitments!  Now here is a man who also had a GREAT job, with a great salary who had a pregnant wife!  If anyone had any reason whatsoever to hesitate, it was him!  BUT that did not stop him!


Those who attended Fashion Talk, can tell you this man is brilliant!  If you did attend, here is an extra freebie for you?!  If you did not, then you need to get that CD if you have not already done so!  He is simply amazing and extremely humble despite all the money he is raking in!

 
SO if you have also been considering taking the plunge and leaving your 9-5, hopefully his figures will give you that push you need!  We are halfway through the 1st quarter of 2016 already so you need to get cracking on that list of 2016 Resolutions if you are really serious about breaking those boundaries!

A wise person told me just last week that the best time to start a new business is when there is a downturn in the economy.  We all know how our economy is so now is a better time than ever to make this move! 😀
 
So without further ado, simply click on the link to access the video!  Don’t forget to subscribe to the Martwayne Channel and follow us on Instagram (@martwayne) and Facebook, Google Plus & Twitter (@martwaynedotcom).
 
 
Do leave your comments at the bottom of the video!
Cheers!
BN Article 3: 5 Myths About Starting a Fashion Business

BN Article 3: 5 Myths About Starting a Fashion Business

Screenshot from http://www.bellanaija.com/2015/07/24/tope-williams-adewunmi-5-myths-about-starting-a-fashion-business/
Good morning good people!!!!!  I am sure you had a GREAT weekend!  I did…even attended a wedding yesterday despite being a bit under the weather.  Y’all know how we Lagos people like to par-ty!!! Will share some pictures at the end of the post 😀
 
Anywayz, I am starting this week on a good note!  Realised I had not posted my last BN Article up here so I decided to do this first thing this morning before my day gets all hectic on me!  

A few years ago, I wrote about certain myths people had about starting a fashion business.  That was more targeted towards people who felt running a fashion business was more about the glitz and glamour.  Here is the link to that post:
 
 
But lately, I had started hearing about certain mindsets people had based on their fears which was preventing them from starting off and I felt the need to address those.  Please note that these myths I have written below by no means suggests that starting a fashion business is a joke.  The knowledge is still key if you want to succeed.  That is what I always preach – you need a thorough knowledge to guide your production team!  
 
I have, however, stated these so you understand that you should not be limited by these fears and should make a move no matter how little and then get the knowledge or partner with people in the areas where you are lacking.
 
Here is the Bella Naija article:
 
__________
5 Myths About Starting a Fashion Business
 
Or perhaps I should call them “myths” or misconceptions.  I have heard all sorts of reasons from people on why they are a bit hesitant about starting their fashion business.  Some even feel they will crash even before their businesses take off, based on assumptions they have made or discussions they have had with people.  The following are just a few examples of real concerns people have expressed to me in the past and here I am debunking some of these myths and allaying these fears.
1.  You Must Be Able to Sew to be a Successful Fashion Designer
 
This is always top of the list. The general idea around here is that to be taken seriously as a fashion designer you must be able to sew, you must run a production unit, you must sew for people, you must sew the clothes yourself, you must feature in fashion show… and the list goes on and on! NO YOU DO NOT!
 
Fashion Designers develop the concept and put a team together to bring their creative ideas to reality! They do not have to physically sew or even have a production unit! I remember Folake Folarin-Coker of Tiffany Amber disclosing at a seminar a while back that she cannot sew. But does she have a successful label?! Yes she sure does!
 
So please don’t listen to anyone who tells you this. It is just the mindset around here. Being able to sew does not guarantee that you will run a successful fashion business. Same way being able to sketch fabulous designs does not guarantee that as well. There are soooo many other things involved in running a fashion business and sewing is just an aspect of it. If you choose to learn, that’s great! The knowledge is useful to understand the process and guide your production team.
 
2.  You Must Be a “Fashionista” To Be A Good Designer
 
I heard this recently from a lady who had concerns about starting off. She did not think she would be a good designer since she did not consider herself to be a “fashionista” …whatever that means. Apparently a good designer must be dressed to the hilt all the time in the latest trends and fashions OR must dress a certain way with some crazy hair and the most outrageous clothes. If anyone told you that, that’s bull!
Designing great clothes doesn’t mean you have to wear them. Ever noticed what fashion designers wear when taking a bow on the runway?! Many are dressed in a t-shirt and a pair of jeans…obviously because many of them are too busy even to think! Yes, you have to dress well to gain the confidence of your customer but you don’t have to be in the latest clothes or dress all crazy to prove a point. Your product will speak for you.
That said, if you choose to be a fashionista, that’s great! But if you are a simple person by nature, that should not deter you from becoming a fashion designer. After all, Alexander Mcqueen looked like a simple person and dressed in a simple manner but we all know how amazing he was as a designer.
 
3.  You Must Be “Creative” to Run a Fashion Business
 
HA! Someone who was about to take the plunge a while back spoke to me about this particular fear. She was worried she might not do well because she did not consider herself a creative person… neither could she draw very well… and her designs were very simple. I told her not to even give it a second thought.
 
To me, creativity is relative and everyone has their own design philosophy.  As far as I am concerned everyone has some form of creative ability. As long as you can put pencil to paper or explain what you want to your tailor and she churns it out, then you have what it takes.  I know people only tend to consider those who design “never before seen, over-the-top” high fashion clothing as fashion designers. But guess what?  Everyone has at least one pair of jeans in their wardrobe and a t-shirt and those were created by designers! And they are making a lot of money from it as well!
 
Besides, if you feel you are not creative, you can either learn how to be creative or hire someone to be creative for you. There are illustrators out there who can work with you to build on your seemingly “simple” ideas.  That is why fashion companies have design teams. The burden should not only be on the owner to churn out the designs, market the designs, search for customers, buy the fabric, deliver to the customer…and all the other tasks we take up over here. There is a whole lot more to a successful fashion business that being creative and being able to draw. You are now an entrepreneur so you need to step into those shoes. Don’t consume yourself with only the creative sides of running a fashion business.
 
4.  You Must Mingle with the “Right” People
 
I know for many people, the typical definitions of the “right” people are the celebrities and socialites. I have heard that a lot! Well… if that is your target market, then by all means, please go for it! But it is not mandatory you mix with them if you do not plan to design for them. If your target market is the average Joe, then please those are the “right” people for you. Concern yourself with trying to find these people.
 
PLUS! I notice many also focus on just making the money and often neglect to watch their costs. The “right people” must include the fabric suppliers, those who supply and fix our machines, those who provide our zips, etc. These are the people who can make or break our businesses. Why pay N10,000 for a yard of fabric when you can pay N4,500 for the exact same fabric? And no matter how good you are as a designer, if the zips you use keep breaking, then your reputation can go down the drain at the snap of your fingers. So please, concern yourself with not only increasing sales but also reducing your costs!
 
5.  You Need a Lot of Money to Start Your Fashion Business!
 
NOT TRUE! It all depends on the type of fashion business you want to run.  Besides, when you ask those dishing out advice why they feel you need a lot of money, they often focus on stuff like PR, getting a fab website, coming up with fancy logos and business cards….and all what not. If you do not have a lot of money to start off, then start small!  
 
A fashion business is, in fact, one of the easiest to start off with zero naira!   All you have to do is be the middleman between your customer and your tailor. Sketch your designs, take a deposit from the customer (which should be way more than your costs of production), get a tailor to churn out the clothes, deliver it to the customer and get your balance. It is as simple as that!
 
Well to be honest, we know it’s not thaaaat simple… but it’s not that difficult when you have a process in place.  I bet many are already doing this.  All you need to do is continue and save up till you have the funds to start your own production unit.  So really, lack of funds should not be a deterrent.  I can safely tell you that as long as there are weddings…and there always will be weddings…, or birthdays and even funerals, you will be in business!
 
Great!  These are just some of the ones I have heard. What else have they told you that is giving you cold feet about starting off?! Share these myths with us and let’s discuss them.  Or better still… tell us which advice or myth you ignored and how ignoring it was the best decision you ever made!
___________________
 
That’s it!  Hope this helped!  Have a great week everyone!
 
And remember to appreciate your fashion designer today! That’s my theme for this week!  I think we are not appreciated enough for the work we do and I thought to make it my first Instagram post for the day.  Handle is @martwayne.
Cheers!
My Feature Article on enterprise54.com :-D

My Feature Article on enterprise54.com :-D

Screenshot from www.enterprise54.com
Yaye!!!!!!!  😀 😀 😀

And it all happened because I responded to a post on a Facebook group I belong to.  Really happy I responded to Aunty Bisi who called me out on the BR Group to tell my story… which I did!  


Thank you so very much Lara Sanni for this wonderful piece!  You just gave me an early birthday present!  And thanking the whole of enterprise54.com for this amazing feature!

MWAH! MWAH!! MWAH!!!

Need I say more?!  Just check out the link to the article below:

I just cannot stop grinning!

Meanwhile…
The Short Fashion Course for Beginners starts on the 28th of February, 2015.

The details are at the link below:

Don’t forget to tell a friend to tell a friend to tell a friend!

Thank you so much!
× Whatsapp Us