by Brigette Mashile, founder of Roka Roko
I have written many pieces on the issue with operational capital…in simpler language, money. Others call it petty cash, pocket money, or disposable income. This is money every business or person should have to spend on unforeseen circumstances. This is a tricky thing because you are already trying to juggle what you have amongst the expenses you have; now I need extra cash for ‘in case’! Well…ok then.
In my business, there is a long list of things that can create a demand for this cash. But there is only one that pains me if I cannot afford it. As a designer, buying fabric I love when I see it. Yes, on impulse! Fabric shopping on a tight budget is painful, I see so much I want but cannot buy it all. Then, there is that one fabric you know a specific client will love, you even know the exact item you will make using it, and yes it will work so well…but cash dololo! So, on most cases I send a picture to the clients and do my best to transfer the urgency in my heart to them.
A few weeks ago I had this happen. I found a gem of a fabric at Chamdor. It was a brocade with such soft shades, and it looked fun in an acceptable way; it was R50 a meter. Do you know the madness I went into? So, I couldn’t buy it. I had at least fabric worth R2 000 in my trolley already for orders due soon; and I knew not to buy fabric without having confirmation from a client. So, I sent a picture to a few clients I know would love it and confirmed it was very, very affordable.
I received one response, a day later. We discussed and agreed on a skirt to be made. So a week later I go back purchase the fabric…guess what? The fabric is gone. Apparently, someone else, with more spending cash than me on that day, bought the entire roll! The whole thing! Well, it was R50 a meter. My heart broke thinking about all the skirts they were probably making and selling. That fabric was beautiful. I then had to communicate the disappointment to the client, and promise to move forward to finding something close to it.
The next week, I was at the Oriental Plaza in Mayfair (Fordsburg). The Plaza as it is widely known has many hidden secrets; you will only know them if you go there frequently. I decided to go to one of my favourite shops to see if they didn’t have that fabric I missed out on…today I have extra cash. This shop is on the first floor, and is family run and has had the same staff for as long as I can remember. Indeed, I find our favourite fabric, but not the shades I know. It is in another combination of colours, but still stunning as ever. Problem? It is now R250 in this shop, 5 times the price of it at Chamdor. This means whatever I had quoted the client, is now impossible to achieve.
Such problems happen constantly in business; and you just have to move on. It is sad of course that such opportunities are missed due to cashflow being missing in action, but hey this is the entrepreneurial journey. Learning how to better manage and attract more revenue while pricing fairly is a trick we all deal with each day in business. Then you have to learn how to hold on to that process, so you benefit longer. Strategizing and planning better are critical in this mission; and implementing these wonderful plans is even more important.
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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