Alerting All Amateurs!

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.

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  1. Kathleen,

    This post actually relates to your post on Chinese users of your site:
    namely, you have an ideal target audience, and your message is reaching those you wish it wouldn’t, including those who treat their workers unethically (whether being from China automatically qualifies you for that category is debatable) or non-professionals who want to profit from your advice without taking it seriously enough to to behave professionally And honestly, you’ve only received a few calls from people trying to sell you stuff in over a decade?? I get about 5 telemarketing calls a DAY, which makes me wary of submitting my contact information unless the registration page explicitly states they won’t share or sell my info (Bob might want to add that disclaimer to his page.) How are we supposed to know the apparel industry won’t subject us to even more? Every other industry seems to.

    Not that I used a fake number.

    Anyway, maybe you should revisit the idea of having a membership only
    site (and do what? make us write essays on why we want to get in?), or
    you’ll have to accept the fact that other people will take your
    well-intentioned advice and do bad things with it. Once it’s out there, it’s no longer yours to control.

    Fondly arguing back,

  2. Laura Popa says:

    I have discovered this site about 2 months ago and I really like it. I’m not a manufacturer, not even small, even if I toyed with the idea when I was younger and I still do sometimes. I’m just a home sewer, meaning that I love sewing clothes for myself and sometimes for my husband. I don’t have time to do it, as I have quite a challenging and senior job, but when I manage to do it I enjoy it enormously.
    The reason why I like this site very much, besides Kathleen’s very useful tutorials, is that over the years I became more and more manic, paying a lot of attention to details and to finishings etc. A f…ing perfectionnist, as one of my friends call me. I tore apart garments bought at thrift stores at least a dozen times and I couldn’t agree more: it’a a great way to learn!
    But what I wanted to say is that I really understand Kathleen’s anger and I think that what those persons did endangered not only her good name, but the good name of everybody else in the business.
    It’s sad and it’s more than unprofessional. You get great tips, advice, tutorials, for free and then you simply screw everything up.

  3. Dave says:

    Why anyone would give false information to a non profit organization like the CAF is incomprehensible . These people have our best interests in mind, and are a valuable industry resource. They dont send out SPAM. They are not Internet hucksters. Think a little harder next time. Kathleen is very right when it comes to putting forth a good air of professionlism. Nobody
    likes dealing with jackasses.

  4. kathleen says:

    And honestly, you’ve only received a few calls from people trying to sell you stuff in over a decade?? I get about 5 telemarketing calls a DAY,

    Yes Jinjer, I get too many telemarketers a day but I don’t get them from apparel people. While I do understand what you mean and I know others feel as you do, it has everything to do with the level of professionalism on both ends. For example, my husband is an electrical engineer and he does the “bug me not” thing on news and public sites but he doesn’t do it on sites relating to his profession. He has standing. Similarly, professional sites don’t take advantage of their members either so it’s not just the apparel industry. When you sign up on most professional sites, they’ll have boxes to check if you don’t want to get mailings from them; it’s standard. It’s professional.

  5. Carol says:

    Getting the addresses from Bob and banning access seems, actually, a very reasonable reaction if done calmly. It tells him that y(our) position is not tolerating these clowns. Sure, those folks can figure out how to weasel around through another address, but maybe they’ll think twice about screwing that one up.

    If when you get in the sandbox you kick stuff in the other kids’ faces, then you don’t get to go in the sandbox.

  6. Jess says:

    Actually the CAF has a privacy policy on the site so any info you give them would be safe from telemarketers. Kathleen! Your comment made me shriek out loud! hehe. I would think you should know better. That would be a major no no for Bob to give you info and would be in violation of his privacy policy. “it’s only if you’re lucky that someone will call you.” Now that’s the truth!

  7. erica says:

    but this is a privacy concern. with all the news of hackers taking mailing lists and stealing personal data from banks, which are supposedly secure, it’s a good idea not to give out more information than one has to. these false addresses may also indicate that many of those interested in registering did not feel comfortable enough to give you extended information…

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