Despite my lack of computer access, I am committed to following through with this feature. So, this month I decided to invite Marisa to do her own write up and share a glimpse of her work, her world, and her perspective.
I came across this status update on her Facebook page and found it quite illuminating and inspiring.
I just had a very interesting conversation in the parking lot of the grocery store.
After loading my bags into the back of the car, I took my cart to the cart repository and in putting it in had to sort out a couple of other carts so none would be at risk of escaping and attacking a car.
As I was getting into the car, a gentleman addressed me. “Excuse me, Ma’am? Are you an artist of some kind?”
I tried not to give him a totally bizarro look and answered that I suppose I am, in a way… more so a crafter than an artist. I explained that we make hot sauce, I sew dresses, embroider shoes, and other random things.
He said “I thought so. They way you were organizing the carts and making them look ‘right’…”
Personally, I think this is a perfect example of how Marisa channels her creative energy into diverse endeavors, copes with her desire for order in a disorderly world, and consciously chooses constructive action and response when faced with option to do otherwise.
Without further ado, here is Marisa to update you on the happenings and endeavors of the last month.
Describe your process in getting the sewing business up and going: group sourcing the name, dealing with the equipment issues, or maybe even how you dealt with the customer service/communication issue with the loafer.
I currently have a myriad of sewing projects on my docket. I finished a very complicated dress this afternoon for a customer and have three wrap dresses to make for her, as well. When we met up for our initial consultation she brought a friend, for whom I have been tasked with making four skirts. I’m getting paid for all of these garments, and am also in the midst of hand-embroidering several pair of Converse sneakers for weddings.
Just this morning I received a pair of velvet loafers in the mail, these will be replacing a pair I had hand-monogrammed about a month ago but the customer and I did not communicate on one very important detail before I began sewing: which direction the monogram should face. I (silly me) assumed it should be readable to the wearer. Apparenlty most monogrammed shoes (I did not realize this was a whole “thing”) are done to be readable to the general public. You know, in case a total stranger wants to know your initials. Handy.
I had completed the monogram on one shoe, and set a picture to the customer. She said “It looks beautiful! Although, I think the monogram is upside down.” Oh, man. That sucked on a bunch of levels. First, the loafers are leather/velvet, so pushing a needle through them by hand is tough, not to mention that it creates a rather large hole (a smaller needle isn’t going to get through the material, at all).
First thought, was this my fault? Was it her fault? For every embroidery customer, I send a mockup picture of the shoe, with the embroidery desired printed on paper and pinned in place to verify size, placement, etc. In this particular case I had sent her mockups to choose the font style of the monogram, a picture to choose the exact color of floss… but never a mockup for the placement. MY fault. Dangit.
My response: “I can do the 2nd shoe matching the first (same direction) and only charge you half price, or I can rip out the first one and do them both the other direction… but I don’t know if the old holes will be visible. They would be partially covered by the new monogram going the opposite direction I think…” She requested the monograms be done “correctly”, so I ripped out the stitching on the first shoe. Big holes. Not going to be well disguised. Ugh.
I wanted to bail on the whole thing. I generally am not afraid of conflict, to an extent, but this just made me SO uncomfortable. I wanted an easy out, so I searched the interwebs to see if I could locate a replacement pair of the same velvet loafer. My plan was to purchase them and have them shipped directly to the customer, and scrap the whole job.
Several more clear-headed friends pointed out that this would not be giving optimal customer service. At this point, I’m going to go a little random. I have about six years of in-store retail experience and two more of online retail experience. Add to that many years of shopping experience and I have developed a distinct desire for customer service that goes above and beyond, EVERY time. No exceptions. All customers should be treated equally and fairly, and in return, the customer should treat the service provider with the respect they are due.
This plays out for me personally in several ways. My husband and I tip heavily when given exceptional service, and our average tip itself is higher than most. When we started selling our hot sauce in an Etsy shop, I strove to complete each purchase in a high-quality manner. I provide tracking information for EVERY shipment, I package the products in a safe and attractive manner. When I expanded my entrepreneurial whims to selling crafty things, I wanted to provide the same level of service. Providing excellent communication and a high quality product is important to me BECAUSE I expect it from others.
So, back to the loafers… buying a replacement pair and calling it quits is NOT good customer service. I sucked up my pride and let the customer know that I would be happy to obtain a replacement pair of shoes AND monogram them, I also gave her some other good options. Just when I thought the whole thing was resolved and I was about to hit “buy now”… her size was sold out. Of COURSE.
Ultimately, we agreed on a similar pair, which I will be monogramming. She will be sending me some patches to sew on the original pair (she offered to pay for this service and I assured her I will do it for free), and she will pay the original agreed upon price for the monogramming and shipping the shoes back to her.
In my sewing business (dresses, etc.) I am striving for the same level of quality.
I was taught to sew by my maternal Grandma when I was pretty young. She taught me to sew by hand and on a machine, how to make a pattern to sew a doll dress, she even showed me how to put in a zipper (which I was very bad at)! I had my own sewing machine in high school and it was used mostly to hem jeans into shorts for girls in the dorm. I didn’t have the patience as a child or a teenager to do it right: ironing, pinning, cutting, ironing, sewing, ironing… ironing, ironing. I don’t love ironing now, but it’s worth it to see the finished product.
I’m enjoying creating flattering dresses that are vintage in style but in modern prints and fabrics. I wanted a separate name from Flossworks, since the garments I make don’t have embroidery floss involved at all. I decided to ask for the general public’s opinion (aka my facebook friends) on a business name, but keeping in mind that it should be something available in all aspects of social media and internet addresses. The popular vote was for “Reese’s Pieces”, but there are too many things in addition to the candy brand that have similar names. I chose something similar but unique in “Pieces de Reese.”