Are Your Solutions Tailor Made?

By: Joe Crisara

Talk About Procrastinating

Two weeks until my sister’s wedding, and I hadn’t had my bridesmaid dress altered yet. I admit that I am a procrastinator, but this was ridiculous even for me.

To be honest, I was not looking forward to wearing the dress. Don’t get me wrong, it was a beautiful dress. It was long, a flowing, raspberry-colored gown with a strapless bodice and a few rhinestones adorning the middle that connected two ends to a sheer piece of material that bustled around the back of the dress. It was gorgeous on the model wearing it online. Once I tried it on, though, I quickly realized that a strapless dress was not meant for my body type and thus the reason I was not looking forward to wearing the dress. And now we were only two weeks away from the wedding day, and I needed a miracle worker.

I decided to ask a friend for a referral. She had lived in the area all her life and quickly recommended a woman on 12th street in Paso Robles. Joe and I drove over to the shop first thing in the morning only to be greeted by a sign saying they were not open until 11am. “OK,” I said. “We’ll come back at lunch.”

At lunch time, Joe drove me to the shop again and dropped me off in front of the store while he went to find a parking space. I quickly walked inside with my dress hanging from my arms to find a young woman at her sewing machine while an elderly woman appeared from behind a curtain and greeted me with a coarse and irritated, “Can I help you?”

I Will Take That As A “No”

I told her how I was uncomfortable with my dress being strapless and that I would like to add sleeves and have it shortened a bit and that I would need to have it done in two weeks. She turned and looked at the young women who continued to work on her machine while shaking her head and saying “no” and then looked back at me while shaking her head back and forth.”No, we would not be able to do that. At very best, we could add one strap here,” pointing at neckline of the dress, “but you would have to find and purchase the material for us and then bring it back.”

“Oh,” I said, disappointed. “I guess I could do that. You wouldn’t be able to do some type of small cap sleeve though, just one strap?” I asked. “No,” the elderly woman said, while the young woman in the back of the room continued to shake her head back and forth.

“OK. Would you be able to tell me where there is a fabric store or do you have any recommendations? We are new to the area, and I am not familiar with all of the stores around here yet,” I said. “The closest place would be to drive to San Luis Obispo. There is a store there,”she said as she turned away and walked back behind the curtain. I realized that she was not really going to give me any more of her time, so I had better get out of there and start looking for material if I wanted to get this dress done.

Little Did I Know My Miracle Worker Was Just Around The Corner

I walked outside to find that Joe hadn’t even found a parking space yet and was coming around the corner, so I flagged him down. I told him the story, and he couldn’t believe it. He said that while he was driving around the block looking for a parking space, he saw another tailor shop on 13th street and asked if I wanted to give it a try before driving all the way down to San Luis Obispo on some wild goose chase. I was a bit hesitant. I knew the place around the corner, Bozo’s Tailoring. There was something about going to a place named after a clown I grew up watching on television during my childhood that disturbed me. All I could think of was how Bozo the clown was always making fun of Cookie the clown. Teasing him and playing tricks on him. I gave it a few seconds and said, “OK, I guess at this point it can’t hurt to at least try,” and Joe headed around the corner and parked at their rear entrance.

I walked in this time, not so quickly, with my dress hanging off my arm. Although the building looked new, the shop looked as if it had been there for half a century. There were probably hundreds of items hanging on a rack near the entrance next to hundreds of spindles of thread. On the wall, there were four black and white pictures of a few well known local celebrities from the area. Again, an elderly woman greeted me at the front, this time though with a smile. She asked, “How may I help you?”

I again told my fear about the dress being strapless and what I was looking for and said at the end, “Do you think you might be able to help me?” She said, “No problem, go put the dress on in the dressing room over there.” I was a bit shocked, and it took me a moment to move. She took me by the arm and showed me over to the dressing room, turning on the light. “Come right back out here once you have the dress on,” she said.

After putting the dress on, I walked out to the small staging area in front of the mirrors, and she took one look and said, “Well, we can take this material from here and drape it over your shoulders like this,” as she draped the material around my shoulders and over my neck, creating what basically amounted to a shawl. I couldn’t believe my eyes. “We could also do something like this,” and I stopped her hand from changing anything. I had looked at this dress 50 times in the mirror at home and hadn’t thought about creating the shawl using the material bustling in the back of the dress. This was perfect. Exactly the solution I had been looking for. The dress looked beautiful. This woman was a genius! Here was my miracle worker.

Many Lessons Learned

There are many lessons from this experience that I want to share with you in this blog post. Most of all, I wanted to share with you the idea of tailoring your solutions to what your customers really want.

My first experience would have fixed part of the problem with my dress, taking it from a strapless dress to having one strap and not having to worry about it falling down or constantly having to pull it up while dancing the Macarena. It would have been a solution that still would have left me very unhappy in the end after doing half the work myself chasing down the right material. I would have found myself looking for a way to get out of standing up in my sister’s wedding, like maybe the airline lost my luggage.

The second experience left me in a pure state of bliss wondering where else I could now wear this fabulous dress. Would it be appropriate to wear the dress to our local Legion Hall for the monthly town hall meeting? Or maybe just to crash someone else’s wedding party?

If you are finding that customers always choose your lowest option, then you are probably not listening to what your customers are really saying to you. If you always seem to get price complaints about your prices being too high, then you are probably not really listening to what your customers are really saying to you. If you are always saying “can’t or won’t to your customers, then you are probably really not listening to what your customers are saying to you. And if you are not really listening to what your customers are saying to you, then you are not really tailoring your options to what your customers really want as a solution to their problem.

Needless to say, I hired Bozo’s Tailoring for the job and received my dress back in time a full week before the wedding, with plenty of time to find shoes. Just kidding!