Meet Martha. She’s come on to help out part time. She’s been working with me for a week now. Speaking of, she can make hard copy patterns for those of you who need them. Please don’t hesitate to inquire if you need them.
I’ve known Martha about 20 years. She used to be my boss. When the last of the local plants closed down, she went into other work but she’s always loved this work best.
The hiring has given me much cause for thought. For far too long now, I had thought that hiring a qualified candidate wasn’t a possibility so I planned accordingly and never scaled. A world of possibilities has opened but I’m a bit ambivalent and even a little scared about it. It’s one thing to worry about providing for your own family. It’s another matter to worry about someone else’s. She’s not the first person I’ve ever hired, just the first in a very long time. The first time I hired an employee, I was so worried I couldn’t sleep for two days. What if the business doesn’t come in to support it? It can be terrifying.
Reflections on hiring
Long time ago, I did a survey on the effect hiring workers had on micro businesses. Among DEs, sales increases of 800% to 1000% for the first hire weren’t unusual. In fact, over 800% was the average (in my small and likely questionable sample).
Hiring is costly if only in the context of training. Even if you get lucky enough to hire an experienced old timer, you’ll run into some of the same obstacles. Being a small business and being pulled away from existing commitments to train means less revenue right off the bat so it can be a significant investment. To realize the greatest return on her potential productivity, I’ll have to buy another CAD license ($7,500) and set up an office ($3,000?) for her to work in. Employees never think about the costs of their hire beyond an hourly wage.
In this case, Martha’s CAD skills are rusty. Like many old timers, she never used CAD for anything but marking and grading so having to learn to correct patterns or even make them in a program is a steep learning curve. Likewise, she’d only worked with Gerber. She is astounded by the sophistication and capability of modern CAD programs like StyleCAD which is the system I use now. It will take her awhile to learn to trust the new tools but she still can’t get over the difference between digitizing in Gerber versus StyleCAD. The former requires (comparatively) a great many more points making the new CAD programs so much more efficient in both time and resources.
For now she’s learning to sew. Sounds crazy, no? Other than operating a flat feller at the old Levi’s plant, sewing (as many think of it) was never her job. She knows how to operate given equipment and how to position the workpiece to needle. As you may discover, teaching an old garmento how to sew is several orders of magnitude easier than teaching an enthusiast or new sewer. The biggest difference for me is that I can verbally explain the sewing order several steps ahead and she sits down and does it. No worrying about this or that not fitting together, pinning, praying or any of that. She’s never made a jacket in her life but she’s cut three samples and sewn two of them in the first week here. Which is not to say it all comes out perfectly but the process of troubleshooting is refreshing -and comforting. It is so relaxing working with someone who understands the chain of accountability. Meaning, we immediately go to the pattern, examine the cutting and go from there. None of this self-blaming one usually sees when nonconforming results ensue.
I’m sure I’ll post more once I’ve had time to reflect but I did want to post on it before too much time had passed. I’m painfully aware at just how little time I’ve spent writing entries for you and I will continue to rely on your infinite patience and good cheer. In closing, join me in welcoming Martha. I feel so lucky and glad to have her.