The 5 Types of Clients in the fashion industry

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Why do people buy from me? And better yet, why do they return (as repeat customers)? A huge question – I should probably ask them ne? But maybe, let me say what I think the answer is. I will try my best to not make my business sound like the best that there is, I will attempt to be fair LOL! Over the years I have learned how to take criticism and assess it. I have managed to sit and see our strengths and weaknesses without being emotional about it. This type of introspection is very difficult for any skill-based business since artists tend to be very personal about their work…so bear with us.

My first client

It was 2014, I had just resigned from the fashion accessories buyer position with no plan really except to finish the fashion diploma. I do not recall how I met this neighbour; she lived a street up from us. But, I ended up agreeing to sew a skirt for her, she managed to convince me to do it for R200! She claimed it was her fabric and I gave in mainly because I had no comeback to that statement. Guess what, she never fetched it or paid for it!

My next many clients

Miraculously, that skirt paid way more to me than I could ever measure. Immediately after making it, I ironed it, put it on a mannequin, snapped a photo and posted it on Facebook. I am sure at that time we had 100 likes on the page. This, ladies and gentlemen, is how people started knowing me for making ‘traditional attires’. This is how I made Ankara, after African print, after shweshwe dresses for the many coming years. People saw the skirt on facebook, shared it or not; loved it and called me. This also taught me the power of social media.

The return client

Most clients who return, return because there was always some item they loved but couldn’t make it then, and can have it now. Bear with me. A large number of my clients come as an urgent need for an outfit for the wedding next week. There are numerous reasons why they waited so long or so close to the date of the event to get an outfit, but it’s always just never clear…or just that they didn’t do it in time. For a long time, my business serviced this need. We were based in Midrand, I had an assistant and could turn around orders in a few days. This way, they come back a month later for the item they have had their eye on for a long time. 

The staying client

During this second item consultation, they are more relaxed. I meet the real person and can do my work calmly. This is where the hook happens. For a client to come back, especially based on an experience of immense pressure such as a wedding, they must have liked something about us. They return again, and it is during that consultation that I will confirm what they liked about us. I don’t want to say we attempt to make people fall in love with us but you know…love is strong LOL. We currently have about 10 clients who have been with us since the beginning or the first time they came. These clients have over 30 items in their wardrobes made by us. We do something right for them and we are more than honoured for this privilege.

The click client

These people are my sisters. I have no biological proof but listen ….I love them. These are the people I choose fabric for before even showing them because I know! These are people who I have sat with in consultations longer than 2 hours talking about everything but their dresses. And because of these super long conversations, I have studied them so much I have a good idea of what they love. Our relationships are so solid they have payment agreements with me LOL. I tell them all the time, if you need a lower price today, it’s ok, you are coming back next week, I’ll get it back somehow LOL! These clients have remained with me through my mental exhaustion, through moving to Midrand, to Modderfontein and back to the house. I’m sure I can move to New York and I will be couriering clothes to them from there to Cape Town. Our partnership just works. We click.

The myths

I would like to tell you that your family and friends will be your biggest clients BUT I’D BE LYING. This would work out well for me, because I have 19 uncles and aunts; who have approximately 70 children. If they all bought from me, I’d be rich overnight. But it is not so. My friends and family share, retweet and repost my work. This is the best thing they can do for us. Remember how I discovered the power of social media back in 2014 from the unpaid skirt? Yeah. My family and friends also refer us to people in their circles. I appreciate this too. But all in all, come to us. Why? Because I love what I do, and I tell all my clients we don’t make ugly clothes! And this is a promise I keep, or else I would not sleep for a good week LOL.


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