by Brigette Mashile, founder of Roka Roko
Competition is a subject I did in marketing at college. We were reviewing the ways companies compete for markets. Direct competition and indirect competition. Direct competition is CocaCola and Pepsi. Indirect would be CocaCola and all banting products. This subject tells us that there’s one market for all these companies, and they must all fight for their attention. Ways of fighting include pricing, ingredients, advertising, location, pairing with other power brands in the industry, and of late going green/healthy. Are you exhausted already? Me too, but read on…
I am from a family of 5 children and I am first born. We are all very, very, very different, but yet very, very ambitious about our interests. Its 100% impossible for us to ever feel like we are in competition with each other. It would be the silliest thing. There are things I am good at that no one else is; and things others are perfect in that I suck at. Most of the time, its because we are all very staunch in doing what we are each passionate about and letting the kingdom of God do the rest. There is seriously no reason for you to be good at everything.
I have carried this realization into my adult life; and it’s shocking for some career mates. I mean, you can literally smell the competition amongst fashion designers. I always yawn at them. Boohoo, you think you make better clothes than someone else. At first meeting, the other designer always acts reserved and wary of me. This ends when I start sharing my struggles and little problem solving things I have experienced on this journey. They relax and we discover how we can help each other, even if its just the random call to vent now and again about our work. I have so many fashion designers around me, as friends and acquaintances. I have designers who specialize in mens wear, ladies wear, accessories, hats, etc, and I recommend them. I do ladies wear, but trust me there are garments I don’t know how to or want to make.
Here is my list of why I don’t believe in competition:
My piece of pie is mine
Whether I go for it or not, it is mine. Even if it gets eaten by someone else, they will not enjoy it as it would be if I had eaten it. Each and every one of us on this planet is sent here with a goal. Your goal cannot be transferred to anyone else. This is why it really is just your loss if you don’t follow your dream. Only you lose! Maybe reincarnation is true and you will get another chance to come back and try again! But nobody can do clothes the way I do clothes; no one can be me. No one can be you, that is your POWER. Think about what sunlight green bar soap means to many families, and you know what I mean. No other green bar will ever do this.
We are different
The slight differences in humans is what makes are so beautiful. Even a pair of twins have at least 1% of differences; and they will draw an apple differently from each other. If you put 10 designers in one room and ask them to make the same black dress, there will still be some difference in all those dresses. Its just that we have different personalities and energies; that filters through into the work we do.
I don’t know everything
Neither do you. I know some of what I know about fashion design from fellow designers. I met Andiswa last year, she runs Umthikazi, she introduced me to spiderweb. In all my years I had never heard of such; this little glue made like fabric hems dresses so well; making them look seamless and delicious. Imagine if I had been wary of her because we are in the same industry, I would have taken more time to find out about spiderweb! This is a small example, but how many new and helpful advise are you missing on by thinking you are someone’s competition.
We need each other
Many times some clients leave me…ok wait they dump me. For many reasons, and I make peace with it. Today I actually celebrate. Thank God. Nothing is worse than working with people who don’t want to work with you. I even recommend my fellow designers. This is because I understand that someone else might have a better vibe with that client. This is why I need my designer friends. Also, there are times when I am unable physically to help a client, I can give them other people who can; sometimes people ask for kiddies or mens’ clothes, I can again recommend someone; and sometimes I get huge orders, I can sub contract to yet another person I know. It’s really a better idea to get along.
Think of other points that could work better for you if you stopped seeing others as competition. If you think about it, cell phone companies work together as well. The one is using the other’s set up, but just covering with their branding. And they are all making money. I also learned that competition is more about strategy than you when I worked in Alex collecting information. In Alex, there are a lot of spaza shops on each street, like many. And they are all making money, serving the same community. How? Maybe the pie is really big enough for all of us.
Brigette Mashile is the founder and creative force behind Roka Roko, a custom fashion design business based in Johannesburg, South Africa. The company passionately delivers quality tailored and trendy fashion to make their customers happy, and specializes in styling women by creating unusual combinations with fabric, culture and style. Brigette has a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Witwatersrand and a Fashion Diploma from Studio5 School of Fashion. She’s a former fashion buyer for a major retailer in South Africa, and an international direct selling company. She’s been passionate about fashion since the age of 10 and gained invaluable experience in the fashion world running informal fashion creation businesses until the day her own Roka Roko brand was born. Find out more by visiting the Roka Roko website www.rokaroko.co.za
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