Business isn’t difficult. It is actually a very simple concept. If you have a product people want, at a reasonable price, most of the time, they will buy. Notice I said most, not all. Not everyone will buy your product, for different reasons. Don’t be discouraged, or disheartened; that’s just part of business. Some people won’t buy because they can’t afford it, this isn’t about them. We all have something we would love to buy but can’t yet afford.
But some people are just cheap. There is just no other way around it. Some people are looking for the hookup. It’s the old “Black Privilege“. That’s right, I went there. I know some of you know exactly what I’m talking about, because we have discussed it. It’s the old “Come on brother, can you hook me up?” I can’t tell you how often I get this. I am a private clothier, and my services are priced very reasonably. Most people will approach me, find out about my product, hear the price and they usually buy. But there is a segment that will always ask me for a hookup. Though I have no reason to give them one.
It wouldn’t bother me so much if I was selling bootleg DVD’s out of the back of my truck, or if I had a booth at the swap meet. But I don’t. I run a legitimate business. I offer a superior product and I expect to be compensated for it. I’m not looking to get rich off of a client, but I expect fair compensation and respect for my goods just like a white company would get. This really gets on my nerves when someone asks for a hook up, but they pull up in a Benz or a Lexus. Or they tell me they usually shop at some high end stores like Nordstrom’s or Neiman Marcus. If you can pay the ridiculously overcharged prices at those stores you can pay my prices, and receive a better product. What really makes me mad is that they wouldn’t go into those stores and try to talk them down, because they would look like they couldn’t afford it.
Maybe they feel that since I don’t operate out of a storefront, then I must be on the hustle. Don’t get it twisted fellas. I am by no means on the hustle. I have a client list that reads like a who’s who of Charlotte elite. I don’ t operate from a storefront because I am a PRIVATE tailor. My target market is businessmen that understand the value of custom clothing, and having a private tailor. They have demanding schedules and having an on-call tailor that will handle their needs, at their home or office, allows them to be more productive. Though they are not looking to get cheated for the service, they acknowledge that convenience, luxury, and exclusivity come with a price. And by exclusive, I mean TRULY EXCLUSIVE. I limit my client list to 200 globally. Once I have 200 clients, I am not taking on any more clients. My clients see me as an integral part of their success. If you are one of those people that are always looking for a hookup, then I am not your tailor and you are not my target client. I”m not a swap meet hustler just trying to make some cash. I am a recognized and respected businessman.
And I know many of you are dealing with the same thing. I can’t count the times I have spoken with minority business owners and they tell me they are tired of people trying to “get the hookup” from THEM, but they will walk into a white establishment and pay full price, and turn around and brag on how much they paid. Stop treating minority businesses like barbershop hustlers that only operate through hookups. Show them the respect the same respect you show other businesses. If they have a legitimate product,come out of your pocket. If you can’t afford it, just walk away.
Now to my fellow minority business owners. IF you want to be treated like a legitimate business, ACT LIKE ONE. If you run your business like a swap meet, expect to be treated as such. Dress like a professional, have a decent vocabulary, and understand how to operate in the business arena. Some of you handle your business so poorly, no wonder you are never taken seriously. But I will touch on that in future posts, for now we are talking about the Black Privilege.
And please stop volunteering to “wear one of my suits” if you have no real status. I know your game. I’m not stupid. If no one knows who you are, then why would I spend the money to make you a suit? How dumb do you think I am? I have clients that are seen nationally in the NFL, in NASCAR, and that perform in front of sold out arenas; and THEY pay for my suits. Why on God’s green Earth would I pay money to just give you a suit, when I won’t get a return on my investment. Now if you have status, and there is a potential business arrangement that can be made, then we can work out a significantly discounted rate for my services, But even then, it has to make smart business sense.
Before you stop and as me to make you a suit again, here are a few things to consider :
1.What have you done for me? Meaning, have you ever bought or sent me any clients?
2, Do people know, or CARE, who you are?
3. Who are your peers?
4. What would your peers say about you if I mention you? If they don’t speak highly of you, what good would you do me?
5. What’s your level of influence? Basically, how much credibility to you have in your circle of influence? If people don’t appear impressed by you, I don’t need you.
6. How do you dress/act now? I’m not a thug or a gangster. If you dress/act like a thug, why would I want you to represent me?
7. What kind of events do you attend? I need to know if you are at events that my clients go to. If you are the big fish in a room full of people that dress like Lil Wayne, I don’t need you.
8. How do you live your life? If you are always getting drunk, high, or in the strip clubs, buy your clothes from someone else. You don’t represent my brand.
9. How much money will I make from working with you? If I make you a suit and never see a return from it, I’m just making a donation to your closet.
10. Am I impressed enough with you to spend hundreds of dollars on you? That’s what I would have to do to make you a suit.
Odds are, if I don’t offer to make you a suit, and you have to offer to wear one, I won’t make you one. So don’t ask. I am literally around some of the most popular and successful people in Charlotte, all day. If they are willing to buy, then so can you. Stop trying to play me for a fool and give me, and other minority business owners, the same respect you give the storefront operations. Do you think Paul Simon will make a suit for you to wear? Of course they won’t. But the bigger issue at hand is, you would never ask them. They would laugh you out of the store. Show us the same respect.