A seamstress’s woes: Too much business is bad for business

“I am a businesswoman and I don’t want my business to go down but sometimes it really gets hard because everything comes in one time and even though you explain to people they still asking you to try and me with me good heart I can’t say no. But it getting to me because I getting the bad name and next year I promise that I not doing it.”

Words spoken by a flustered seamstress who in her own words took “a battering” because she was unable to complete uniforms for mostly school children and teachers in time for the new school term.

Because I heard some of the complaints and I have known the seamstress for several years I approached her on the issue.

She spoke freely but defended herself. “I don’t like not giving people they clothes when they want it. I mean, come on, which business person wouldn’t want their customer to be happy. But sometimes I just can’t do it. Is only two hands I get and even if I work day and night I can’t finish it all and I can’t work day and night. I have to sleep. I have to eat.

“I been telling people all the time to come and bring their cloth early don’t wait for the last minute, but some say they didn’t have the money. Me ain’t know, I not in them pocket but what a know it does pressure me,” the woman said with a shake of her head.

“We all know that at a certain time things does be busy, especially when school is to open and is not no big business I got, is me alone and I glad for the support but there is only so much I can do and no more,” she said as she surveyed the small space she uses to sew.

As I surveyed the space I immediately got a sense of how busy she has been, there are uniforms and other outfits on hangers all around, there are some unfinished pieces and still yet there are large pieces of cloth.

I tentatively asked her why she “takes in” all the sewing if she knows she can’t meet the needed deadlines.

“Look,” she sounded somewhat angry and this point, “I does tell people I have a lot of sewing and sometimes I does show them but they does beg me to help. I know many of them for years and it is hard for me to leave people clothes that come before and sew somebody own that come after.

“And still I does be accuse of that because some feel I should finish they clothes before…  But it is not so, I try to keep it straight as you bring your cloth, so I sew.

“To be the honest this year is the worse is like everybody complaining and some of them buse me out and say them not bringing back cloth to me. In me anger I tell some a them I don’t care but to be honest I understand how they feel but what a could do?” she said with a helpless shrug of the shoulders.

“School time is the worse time because everybody want new clothes for their children and most teachers also want new clothes. And you know is vacation time and other workers want new clothes to go back to work.

“So sometimes business slow, slow, like from February to June and then all of a sudden is more business than I can handle. Let me tell you, sometimes I sew till I can’t feel me fingertip and like me eye does start seeing dark.

“So is not a case of me sitting down and not doing nothing is just that I can’t finish it, I just can’t.”

I broached the topic of maybe getting an assistant during the busy period.

“I try that, I try that,” she said quickly shaking her head in rapidly.

“Girl I try that already, I try it two times and all two times is not a good experience.  I rather do it on me own. First thing because is part time them not showing up when them supposed to, you know, like I begging them. And then they don’t sew like me and I had more complaints because some of the customers say they didn’t like how the clothes sew. So, it was more headache for me.

“With the last one I had to sew over a whole outfit for a customer free because I had to admit the one she get was no good so I end up losing out,” she said.

Well, would you allow yourself to be abused every year? I enquired.

“Is not that I allowing it you know, but I understand what you saying. Maybe next year I have to start saying no when I think I get enough clothes.

“But how is that good business, suppose is a long-standing customer how I telling them no?” she questioned not expecting an answer.

“But I have to work something out because to tell you the truth it getting to me, it is not just the busing but is like I does feel by September month end I getting a nervous breakdown and it ain’t worth it. Many sleepless nights and you know the money they pay is not even enough I does barely mek it and I have children to send to school to.

“So, I have to do something. I not sure yet what but for my own sake, for the sake of me health and the sake of me name I have to do something,” she said as she looked around her small space.

“But what to do? That is the question girl, what to do? Anyway, let me get back to sewing, I don’t want nobody else getting vex with me for the rest of the year,” she said.

I quickly enquired about the outfits that were completed and were on hangers.

“Oh, girl is people who vex that they clothes not finish on time and some is people, well that is what I think because they behind me all the time and now that school open they not coming for them,” she said.

At that point she turned to her machine and I said goodbye thinking to myself that next year she would be having this same conversation with me if I just asked.

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