|A steep learning curve|
As the phrase goes, you live and learn. That’s certainly been my experience over the last month as we’ve navigated some tricky situations and had to find the grace to overcome hurdles.
In business and life, sometimes we’re called to ‘walk the extra mile’ for someone. This resonates with me because of the historical figure of Jesus. No matter who you think he was or wasn’t, the way he encouraged and modelled generosity was revolutionary. In the first century AD he encouraged his Jewish listeners to carry a Roman soldier’s kit bag, not just the obligatory one mile set out in Roman law, but further, simply to demonstrate generousity.
I’ve lived this experience this month. It’s been hard work and the aches have been real but the fruit of respect and friendship has been too.
So, what happened?
In general, our production run has gone smoothly. There could have been many opportunities for sour words and anger from the factory, from us and from you, our customers, but that hasn’t been the case.
In the early stages when I first began to build a relationship with our partner factory, everything went very well. From samples to agreed production dates to in-person visits, the factory was doing everything possible to give us the best experience.
Unfortunately, the navy fabric we had chosen did not arrive in time to meet the production date. The factory had offered to dye the shade just for us and it was a shame that their gesture of generosity caused delays.
Nevertheless, their show had to go on: not with our dresses but with bigger orders for bigger brands. As our production date slipped further and further the factory sought out other factories to help them. This is a common practice in Leicester as different businesses seek to support one another and share the work, but it has its own challenges.
Under the pressure of the delay, the work was rushed and unbeknown to us, mistakes were being made. The early time and effort we’d put into laying a great foundation were largely lost. Again, our initial factory contacts wanted to help as much as they could, offering to ship dresses directly to our customers rather wasting time waiting for us to collect to the stock to then ship them out. Only then, did we realise there were issues with construction.
So how would we put things right and as we shared last month, who would you want to hold power? Costs had risen significantly since they were first agreed and we hadn’t got quite as many dresses as we’d expected either. We did the sums to find the funds left after putting things right would be just £7 per dress. In our case, those funds, little as they are, will help to fund English lessons for garment workers. This experience shows that margins are always tight and choices are always challenging, whatever the size of your business. You’ll notice we’ve increased the retail price of the dress to reflect the real prices we paid.
|Thank you to the lovely Hasna for modelling our navy Dorcas Dresses so beautifully. We still have stock to sell so do consider sharing this newsletter and encouraging a few friends to buy frock 😉Buy a dress now!Who goes the extra mile?|
I spent a lot of time discussing the problems. Factory workers still need to be paid. The fabric still needs to be bought. Factory running costs still need to be covered. The way this industry works leaves little room for human error. And yet, humans do make errors. My extra mile was sat at the sewing machine altering the placement of the side ties on a significant part of the production run. Sewing is my place of refuge, I love to pray as I sew, I see it as a well choreographed dance. I took the opportunity to pray for each customer that will receive a dress, for joy and grace to permeate their lives.
I’ve never been more conscious of the frustration, human cost and scrabbling for margin that runs the clothing industry. And yet, I’ve never seen so strongly how grace, love and patience can fight in the face of injustice, arrogance and inequality. The factory we worked with have graciously done what they can to redeem the situation.
We can all do things differently and when we do, people notice and relationships change for the better.
Grace is a gift. I encourage you to share it abundantly.
In other news
our English classes for garment workers in Leicester have seen up to six delegates. We will be reviewing their success in July and will share our plans for September in our next newsletter.our Nigeria sewing hub have grown to seven ladies. They are currently producing a small batch of dresses which will be shipped to us shortly… watch this space for new stock in our shop.our Uganda hub will be receiving a shipment from us very soon. We recently sent a sewing machine, bundle of threads and hand tools which should arrive next month… more news of this next month.we are exploring setting up a sewing hub in a Tanzanian refugee camp. The group have analysed local sources for materials and equipment and local outlets for sales. We will be sharing ways you can support this group in next months newsletter too.Find out more about us!Thanks for reading. See you soon!
The Dorcas Dress Project team