by Brigette Mashile, founder of Roka Roko
I have always said that I am more fearful of my success than my failure. I mean what is failure? How many rejections have you been through at this age; try and count and you will fail. In my case, from my first attempt to touch a candle flame, or my mom refusing for me to not make it into the NETBAL EERSTE SPAN in high school, and to the tertiary Dmerits! There have been failures, but yet I am here. So failure to me is just a T-Junction on a road - I went right but I was supposed to go left. But…success… you see success is a new can of worms I have never experienced. It demands another me I have not met before, and definitely feels like growing a new tooth.
In business these feelings happen a lot, not at the same rate as the rejections; but they happen. Some of us fail (again) to see them as success because we are too busy fretting about that one bit of business we didn’t get. If you are still in business in 2019, it seems you believe in your success. You may have not yet decided what it will look like, but you are sure it is coming. I have spent time dreaming about this success while driving; imagining the magnitude of it all. Amongst my thoughts of greatness there are a few things I pray God keeps out of my journey; you know like real empire problems. Big corporate issues many companies are going through today like:
I do not think I have the ability to ever retrench people. In custom fashion design you have no choice but to be close to the people you work with. You need to be on your feet communicating to each person daily about each project. This means you will probably be around them everyday; eventually you share a joke, you talk about social matters, etc., YOU GET CLOSE. I have had to let people go, 1 at a time. Imagine having to cut off 5 people from your team, people you know need that job. Imagine cutting down an entire department. Don’t even start with the legal and admin processes involved. This process is painful for the one leaving but as a company owner I have come to understand how wrenching it is for the one doing the ‘letting go’. I wonder if this is even avoidable; I mean in business anything is possible. Our only strategy to combat this is planning accordingly for a seamless process should it ever come up.
2. A bad day on Twitter
Where we are the accused on social media!!! Who doesn’t fear this? I have been on Twitter part-time for a few years. I get so much anxiety from that app; anything is possible there. Twitter streets are not safe, ever. It takes one spelling mistake, one grammar mistake, or one person to complain about something as simple as you moving out a delivery date! There will be a whole hashtag on you and you shall be roasted good for a day or two. What are the ramifications of such? Do people just have fun with it then and forget tomorrow? Or do they record you as that company that moves deliveries out? All I know is Twitter can make you or break you; it can dissolve all the foundation work you have done in one tweet… boom its all over. I just really tread lightly there and keep most of my comments to myself. Gwababa e strong!
3. Not moving with the times
In fashion, this is a big, huge, massive issue. How many brands have gone down because they refuse to move with trends? And not fashion trends - but operational, marketing, financial, and management trends. So many companies still say WHATSAPP is not for business! But we have been able to send PDFs on it for a few years now? Staying stagnant is a definite killer for a business. There is a huge need for newness in any business; at some point my ideas will become a bit out of the era for fashion; and I will have to find someone more in touch with what is needed then. This goes as far as our branding as well; branding has to move with the times while keeping the true essence at heart. Tough, but possible and necessary!
4. Failing a great client
I have already experienced this one - last year. As much as I assigned people to the project; their failure is mine. The one thing about failing people who trusted you is the heartbreak you go through. It is the constant ‘I should’ve’ list you keep running in your mind. Apparently, everything happens for a reason, I am still waiting for this reason! Now, this was 1 client in a young business. Can you imagine losing clients the way KPMG lost clients and partners a while back? As an empire you will be losing millions not thousands. And sometimes the failings aren’t by you yourself but the team you hired to take care of them. So it is still your fault. Again, risk management teams are necessary along every step of the way.
5. Quality Issues
In fashion the worst that can happen is a tear right? Not too much! Well, imagine the tear happening at a wedding…on the bride’s dress! Ok, I am being dramatic, the chances of a bride’s dress falling apart are 1%. She would have to do a hectic vosho to tear her dress. But, things happen. To the wrong client, at the wrong time, to the wrong company. My worst experiences with this one are ZIPS! I have decided they hate me. And I have to say a prayer for them everyday. I have had more zip issues than anything else in the 5 years of business. Luckily there are options to deal with them; to correct and avoid future cases. We had a bad zip spell at the end of 2018, the entire time I was worried about no.2 on this list. Zips are tricky because they could be faulty, or the person could’ve gained a few more centimetres. The best way to deal with this for me is to take it as a natural disaster and correct the situation as soon as possible.
What other big empire issues are you working on avoiding? And how? We are living in the transition time when it comes to business. More women and more black people are entering the space formally. It is totally painful but I do believe we are learning and becoming stronger. People in 3 decades will wonder how we did it, how it started. Let us create empires that learn from the current errors of current empires; so as to not repeat or expand on their mistakes.
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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