I woke up at 5am in the morning to this message:
Salam Kak Sue,
Here's the BTS video to be uploaded on youtube ;)
Naida Haruliza Harun
Head of Marketing and Sales
Love to Dress, Malaysia.
After watching the video, I was so shocked. I mean, could this really be the company that I started with Chia 2 years ago? It looks like Love to Dress, but it's like a hybrid, mutant, or basically the better version of what I started. And I began to ponder, how did Love to Dress get here?
To set the record straight, all of the amazing work you see is actually done by a small team of passionate and amazing human beings, not me. I have less than 10 people in my company and the work they produce is beyond me. But I am digressing. Let's go back to where it all began...
A year ago, I made a huge mistake by hiring a friend of mine. This was the most painful but necessary lesson I had to learn as an entrepreneur. She was a very positive, helpful and hardworking person. However, she lacked the skills, education and discipline to do the job. It ended badly even after efforts were done in trying to make it work. She no longer wants to talk to me because by firing her, she claims I have ruined her life. But I am not here to talk about her. I'm here to talk about what this mistake has taught me. Here are some things to consider when you are putting a team together:
No matter how positive and hardworking a person is, skills and passion to pursue excellence is the number 1 criteria for me. How is a person who is going to do marketing not know Adobe Photoshop, video editing softwares etc?
This plays a big part in the development of a person's ability to critically examine a situation i.e. the fashion industry and how Love to Dress fits in the local and global family of making garments. I am a big advocate of education because it also exposes a person to think and see the bigger picture.
The passion to pursue excellence is not something that you can force people to do. It must come from the heart and it will translate into action. There is no such thing as I have faith, but I just haven't gotten around to doing it. Who are we kidding? Blaming others as to why our life have gotten wrong is also a red flag. Look for people who are positively taking responsibility on how they can improve themselves.
You have to make the effort to do background checks on the people you are hiring. It is important to talk to others who have worked with them professionally, be it a colleague or their supervisor. Nowadays, I will call people's references, especially the person they report to and discuss about their work ethics.
What comes after this? As a founder, we must build an inspiring, positive and encouraging environment for people to work. Here is what I've learnt so far:
Nurture and encourage team members to work creatively and independently, ultimately to take charge of their work and can therefore build a trusting relationship of dependency with others. Love to Dress is always looking for ways to invest in giving the best equipment and environment for people to excel.
Guide, expose and train team members to perfect their talent and skills. We have to proactively seek ways to educate and encourage our staff to get training, professional certification and higher learning. This is where I am looking to put my money now.
I also have to constantly remind myself and the team about the journey to perfection, not reaching perfection itself. Focus on what we can do. We can learn to improve ourselves and our work, bit by bit. This is what I want to see in my monthly report. What people choose to buy is beyond our control so we leave that to Allah swt. And should the worse happen, i.e. people not want to buy our products and we have to close company, no worries. No banks or person is going to be chasing us because Love to Dress is debt free. We can always try again should we want to ;).
Ensure team members understand and are constantly aware of the company's purpose, and how their contribution is fulfilling that mission. For me, this means all my staff must at least be trained in understanding the Quran, since Quran play a major role in the company's mission and objectives.
At the end of the day, this is a journey and every founder has to humble themselves and learn from their mistakes. I only have a handful of 8 people in LtD. But I am determine to give the best to those 8. Why? Because I am not bothered about how big my company is. For now, I am concerned about how well I manage the assets I already have ;).
Top: Monochrome Batik by Mourissa Concept
Skants: Love to Dress, coming soon in Spring/ Summer 2016
Scarf: Crepe Silk by Fleur Malaysia
Brooch: Verstyle Vintage
Shoes: Nude pumps by Gucci