Before I go any further, you should know I am angry. All I can say is it’s a good thing that I’ve had time to calm down having been stuck at the doctor’s office with my kid for the past 5 hours, otherwise I really would have unloaded. As my friend John says, nobody gets mad quite like I do. I’m angry over an email I got from my friend -my friend mind you- Bob Kirke at the Canadian Apparel Federation. Evidently, while some of you were motivated to register on their site in order to get the goodies I mentioned in yesterday’s post, you couldn’t extend the courtesy of being professional about it. Bob says that 5 to 10 of you thought you’d be clever and either put in half-baked addresses or used 555-1212 for a phone number.
Okay amateurs, let me explain several things to you. First of all, this is not like buying at retail so grow up. I can count on one hand –one hand– the number of times I’ve had an apparel industry person cold call with the intention of selling me something –in the past 15 years- and besides that, it’s only if you’re lucky that someone will call you. You’ve got it all wrong. In this business, people don’t call you, you call them. And even if you call them, you still have a hard time getting anyone to return your calls. People like Bob are proprietary and protective of their lists just as I am. You tell me, how many times have I bothered any of you with a sales call or any kind of mail piece, snail mail or otherwise? Or anyone that I may have passed your information off to? The answer is zero. None of you can say I have. Bob doesn’t do things any differently, no garment industry person will either. His organization represents a tremendous resource and value and you’ve just made all of us look bad.
Second, if someone is offering you a genuine resource of value, you have to give something up in exchange and honestly, asking for your contact information is a very small price to pay. Nobody is going to bother you. Putting in fake addresses and phone numbers is amateur hour. If you’re that kind of person, you are in the wrong place. And then you wonder why other people won’t give you the time of day, well, it’s for reasons like this. If you’re an amateur and can’t figure out how to act professionally, you’re poisoning the well for everybody else.
Third, this business is really small. I know that if you’re on the outside looking in, it looks pretty big but allow me to assure you, we are all connected in the most unlikely of ways. I’m sure you’re thinking that there’s no way I’m going to know if you stiff the guy who does your cutting in the middle of nowhere in upstate NY but then, you don’t know that 10 years ago, this cutting guy and I knew each other quite well. And that’s not all either. For example, there’s a guy who answers the telephone at one garment industry supply house and you’d never know that he is the heir of one of the largest banking fortunes in the country- the bank specializes in financing apparel lines- so if you’re rude to the person who takes your paper order, your financing just may fall through. It’s happened more than once. How do you think we get the skinny on all of you? We don’t have a standard credit organization we use in this business, it’s all word of mouth. We talk. We’ll call a friend and ask if they know about you or if they know someone we can call who might know somebody who knows you. This business is actually very, very small and we are all connected in the most unlikely of ways.
I note that a representative of Laven Labels made a comment. Please do not mistake his friendliness and openness as anything other than genuine interest and support. Of course he’d like to do business with you; don’t you want to do business with others too? If you haven’t figured it out yet, this is a business to business site. Now, since I didn’t get a chance to do a real post today (stuck at the doctor’s office for f-i-v-e hours) I haven’t had the chance to tell you that Laven Label came very highly recommended from more than a few sources and I would be furious if any of you contacted them and pulled the same stunt. You should be grateful that a business like that thinks you are worth the bother of commenting here.
What some of you have done amounts to a great deal of embarrassment. You’ve made all of us look bad and for my part, I resent it. You have to realize that your behavior in the marketplace impacts not just your reputation but mine and everyone else’s. After everything I do for you, I have a right to be angry and resent this behavior. Stunts like this is just one reason why designers have such a bad reputation in the business. It’s only consumers who think you walk on water. The rest of us know better.