"the customer is always right"
"serve your customers"
"give them what they want"
I learned the art of customer service during my first retail job at Bath and Body works. BBW had/has a policy that you can return anything. Yes anything. Meaning we'd have ladies bring in their cucumber melon from their '96 prom in and say "I don't really like the smell anymore" and we'd have to take it back. Or I'd have to smile and say "absolutely" as an obvious shoplifter was trying to exchange product they literally just took off the shelf. It was frustrating but it taught me a lot about my "customer service voice" and how I interact with customers and service the concept of serving them.
Flash forward almost 15 years and while my foundations are still in tact, my philosophies have shifted. I left my previous "MLM clothing Company" because I didn't feel authentic in the products I sold. Now mind you-they sold, and I had a lot of customers really like them. But i didn't feel right selling them. Now I find myself struggling because my "personal" style doesn't always sync up to what my customers purchase or want. Now you might be reading this thinking "Gina just do you-the people will come" Ehhhhh.....that sounds a lot easier than it actually is. Especially when you are building a business and following.
I'm not-not satisfied with the products I sell or the curation I bring in, but if you could see the graveyard that is my abandoned carts of all the things I'd love to stock-I think you'd be surprised. But that internal BBW voice of "give them what they want" keeps annoying me and I forget these ideas.
Now I have stayed true to certain guideline's I've set for myself. For example:
(and to first premise this I have NO ISSUES if you wear this/carry this in your store/love it)
I will never carry Camo print in my store. (Personally) I feel uncomfortable wearing it and wouldn't feel authentic photographing it and selling it in my store. It's not that I think it's ugly or anything I was just taught at a very early age that if you want to wear camo-you enlist ;)
Now let me get to my point- I know that if I brought in/stocked camo print items-they would sell. But I can't be at peace with myself if I am bringing in something for the sole purpose of just flipping it. You might think "it's a business who cares-you just have to make $" but to me, each piece tells a story, it's something that when I order-I envision the person wearing it or ask "would I wear it" if the answer is no-it doesn't get ordered.
Now here comes more complications- I get it- some things I don't particularly like- would look good on someone else. I agree with that. But I've been through it where I have to be on a live show or at a vendor event and pretend to like something. I can't do that again. If my name is on the tags on these items going to you-I want to make sure they have my 100% stamp of approval.
I know I might not be everyone's cup of tea/coffee/whiskey ect and that's ok. I'm ecstatic when I can meet someone who sees the vision I am trying to create and can identify with it as well. So if you've been on this ride with me- i thank you. If you've just been cheering me on too but it isn't quite meshing with you styles-I appreciate it as well!