Customer and client relations
Three star review on silhouette skirt pattern:
"Nice pattern but it would benefit from some hip rounding adjustment for better fit."
"Thank you for the tip! This skirt tutorial was designed to be very simple and quick, with simply one center back seam, however, I am currently working on a trumpet skirt printable pattern, with more shaping in the sides and center back!"
When clearing things up with clients, I try to be as honest
and transparent as possible with how and why I do things.
That way, perhaps, it clears up any further questions they
may have, and they shouldn't be able to leave you a bad
review, because you've now cleared the air for them (hopefully).
Now, if someone leaves you a bad review without first coming to you, then message them first, and if they don't respond, then add a kind rebuttal on their review, so that other's reading can see that it was maybe just a misunderstanding. But remember that the nicer you are to your client, the harder it is for them to be angry with you!
The customer is "almost" always right.
You've probably heard this before, and maybe taken offense to it, or not given it much thought. When running a business, it's incredibly important to put your pride aside, become transparent, and work to make your customers happy, because if your customers are unhappy, then they don't purchase from you again, they don't refer you, and ultimately, you don't make money. Now, I realize that there are always those situations where a customer can be WAY out of line, or complain about the most trivial things (I've had those customers), however, the way you resolve these issues speaks a lot about who you are as a business owner.
If you are working on a custom order, but life gets in the way, and you don't get it finished by the projected turnaround time, then message your client as soon as you can - not just to make excuses, but to genuinely apologize for not having it done on time. If they ask for a refund, because they're going to miss their scheduled shoot date, then it would be best to give them a refund, no questions asked, and reiterate your apologies.
My rule of thumb, when working with customers in conflict situations, is to hear out their concerns, and then kill them with kindness, or just go above and beyond to make them happy - within your limitations.
I think the most important way to avoid conflict with customers,
right off the get-go, is to have as detailed of a listing description
or shop policies, as possible. If you cover all your bases before your
customer even orders, then you have more going for you if a customer
does come to you unhappy that the listing photo showed a sash,
but the gown didn't come with a sash (even though it says in bold
at the top of the listing description that the sash is not included).
If a situation like this arises, because you customer didn't read the
product description, then you can respond to them gently, by saying
something like this;
"I am very sorry you are unhappy that your gown did not come with a sash. I also love this gown finished off with a sash! As per the listing description, I tried to make it very clear that the gown did not come with the sash, so that there was no confusion. I offer discounts to photographers who return images of my products in use, so that I don't have to take the photos myself, but sometimes, the photographers add accessories, or their editing changes the true colour of the fabric, so I try to make these types of things very clear to my potential customers, so that they are well aware of what they are purchasing. If you would like to purchase a sash like the one used, I would be happy to contact the photographer and ask where they purchased it from. I hope that clears things up a bit, and let me know if you have any other questions. Have a fantastic day!"
Cross front off Shoulder Bodice Pattern and Tutorial.
*Bodice falls at the empire waist, but can be extended to fall at the natural waist. Ideal for maternity.
**Listing is for the bodice only. Sleeves, skirts, and bottoms sold separately.......
Whether you're a seasoned photographer, or simply a designer who takes product photos (this is how I started out in photography), you know that a good photo can sell what you make.
It's not always tangible for you as a designer to find a photographer to shoot everything you make, and so you must learn to take some of your own photos. There are many ways to shoot your products, in ways that are engaging for your customers, but we're just going to go over a few of them.
1. "Behind the scenes". People love to see how you create your
garments, they want to experience the process of what you do.
So it's important to show this to your fans, every now and then.
These can be photos of you physically sewing a garment
(showing a glimpse of the details), or throwing the garment
on a mannequin and snapping a photo of it, just in your
studio or living room. Try not to do this all the time,
but once in a while is good!
2. Mannequin shot, with a simple background. Whether you use
a blank wall in your home as a backdrop, or buy a studio backdrop
setup, just make sure your background is very plain and simple, so
that it doesn't take away from the garment. What I did that works
really well, is I have this part of my living room (which I also use as
my office), that has a large window beside it, so it gets some great
directional lighting, and I had my husband screw some hooks into
the ceiling, and then cut down a metal bar to fit the space. Then,
all I had to do was add my large roll of paper (you can find various
colours of paper backdrops online, but grey is my favorite!). So
when I need to shoot new product, I just move the furniture out
of the way (it's quicker and easier than it looks), and I put my
garment on the mannequin, and shoot away, making sure I get
at least one of the front, one of the back, and any little details,
like the print of the fabric, appliques, or construction details
(for more interesting cuts).
3. Shooting on a model. Normally, I produce my garments in collections, and so what I would do, is team up with a local photographer and we would do a model call. Then, on the day of the shoot, I would pack up all the gowns and bring them to the location, where I would meet up with the models and photographer. While the photographer is shooting one model, I would be dressing the other ones, and then we would just sort of go in this loop, until all the gowns had been shot. A typical session would take about 1 - 1.5 hours, to shoot between 10-15 gowns. The photographer then got a custom gown or two from me in exchange for the photos and she would also sometimes charge a small "mini session" fee to the models, or do the session for free, but charge for the images. This worked out really well, and I got a great variation of images to use for social media.
Now, since I've gotten into photography in other areas of my life, I shoot all of my product photos myself, which I love doing! I just send out a model call to my friends, and find an assistant to help me with the shoot.
*Things to remember - if shooting one of a kind garments, try to find places to shoot that are clean. Also, make sure that the models aren't wearing a lot of makeup that could smudge onto the garments, or perfume.
Taking Product Photos
4. Sending out your creations, or starting an affiliate program. Shipping your creations to a well known photographer, in exchange for use of photos, with them either sending the garments back to you, or keeping them, can be very risky. If you choose to do something like this, make sure you have contracts or agreements written up, so that there's no miscommunications of expectations, and everyone holds up their end of the deal.
A better way to receive a variation of photos for your products (especially if it's something you will be making more of), is to start an affiliate program or photo share program, where your clients receive a discount (this can be in the form of a small refund, or discount on future purchases), for sharing quality in use photos of your products.