Three years ago, I have dived into the world of business immediately after graduation –unprepared and naive. I was not certain what i wanted to do precisely but i was very much certain i did not want to work for people. I knew i did not want to be confined in a cubicle doing things i despise. Fortunately for me, my mom has always been incredibly supportive and suggested that i should get into fashion. Never once would i have thought of that. Looking back, ever since primary school, i did enjoy sketching dresses and cute tops. My drawings are unequivocally hideous but i reckon, this is my passion and has always been my passion — to create.
I remember feeling excited and i knew deep within, it would be intricate and demanding but in a way, i underestimated the intricacy in its entirety. I began to search for tailors online and i could still bring back that very moment where i first met my first tailor. I drove all the way to this industrial area in Klang, so excited my heart could burst. How could i not remember? It was my first monumental disappointment. I bought fabrics and showed him my design and here is one thing i have learned. Never trust anyone and it is okay to be skeptical. Like i said, i was naive. When he had said he could do it, i thought, that was easy…. Only to realise, all of them had said the same thing. “Ah yes, i can do that.” He could do it alright. Whether it is wearable, that is a completely different story. My first impression was, why did my dress turn out to look like a freaking pillowcase? I left with profound disappointment and never returned.
That was my first time dealing with a tailor. And that went on for months, eventually, years but i knew it would be rather foolish to give up even before it began. I was left with countless of disappointments and i could feel the excitement gradually being drifted away. I have been nothing but genuine. All i wanted was the same in return. I have had tailors who tried to leech off me and cheat on me. I did not know what i was doing and that was truly an advantage to them. Never expose your weakness to people no matter how nice you think they are. I ended up squandering thousands on something i could not even sell just because i thought, she was good. I’ve realised that no matter how nice you are to people, and how genuine you are, most are completely undeserving of your kindness. Sure, they’d say, no offence, it’s business. Every time i left the meeting table, i thought, hey she’s nice perhaps, she won’t fool me. Only to be proven wrong innumerable times. My mistake was, i like to see the best in people but i am way over that. I have learned to be straight and strictly professional ever since then. We are here to make business partners, not friends. You can be nice but strict.
Do tons and tons of research. Studying in business school, this was something we have been taught throughout the course of my studies. I did not truly recognise its significance until i have lost too much. It is so important to know the niche, the target market, the pricing model, etc in precise. If you make decisions solely based on your hunch, it is not going to work. And be consistent and focus. You’ll achieve great things, inshaallah.
Also, here is the worst one i have learnt so far. Just because you are friends, that doesn’t mean you can be business partners. I have worked with a few of my friends on different areas as well and i realise, your opinions might differ and some might come off as dominant and you feel like you cannot really speak your mind in fear that you might hurt them or put your friendship in jeopardy. I hate myself for feeling that way. And since you value the friendship so much, you end up tolerating every single thing they come up with, which is unhealthy. Some are only good with words but not action. Anyone can say “we should do this this this” but when it comes to implementing, they are non-existent. And some might constantly shut down and pay no heed to your ideas without realising it only to say, “You didn’t come up with anything” at the end of the day. It is so important to find balance in partnership. Worse, bad partnership can lead to bad breakup. Perhaps, it is best for you to work alone. I had to learn that the hard way and there is no one to be blamed but yourself.
There were moments where i felt like my life came to a standstill only to be reminded of how constructive and valuable mistakes are. These things i have learned are some things that you cannot get from textbooks.
My first attempted brand ever. GRAE.
I will come up with a brand new collection from my new brand in May. ( I know I know, not again). It is called L I M O N E and perhaps, this shall be my final brand. There will be more colours, more work friendly attires, and most importantly, more affordable choices. So stay tuned and in the meantime, it will be a great deal to me if you could follow Limone’s instagram page. (HERE) Here’s to a brand new start.