My Bad Experience With A Kenyan Fundi
Chances are you have heard a bad tailor story but i am willing to wager that a bad tailor story has happened to you. You know the routine, the one that starts with a leap of faith in your neighborhood fundi, followed by a gathering courage kinda like the way your mom would gather her leso before she knocked some sense into you -probably for going to that neighborhood fundi in the first place! But you are a good citizen willing to support a small business (and honestly those Chinese imports do nothing for the curvy African woman) so off you go handing over your hard earned, beautifully printed cloth to a merciless butcher.
After negotiating the delivery date and price, you leave the tailor’s with a sense of foreboding. This is because going to the tailor is risky business. One day they produce some phenomenal work and the next it’s just terrible. It’s as if they are two different people working on your clothes. And when it’s time to delivery, you are met with an indifferent response of “..kujia kesho aki nimekuwa busy..”
So why don’t we ever learn? Better yet, why don’t they ever change?
This reputation has followed tailors like stink follows poop. Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to generalize here but a majority of us have been burned one too many times for it not to be an issue. Worse yet, these tailors are seldom held responsible. On top of losing your fabric and time, you incur double financial loss- once for the money spent on the fabric itself and another for the money you pay them to ruin your fabric!
As much as we like to complain about them, tailors are an essential part of the Kenyan society. They fix our tears and cater to our curvaceous bodies, an undertaking that ready-made clothes fall short on. It is time to address this issue once and for all. I would like small business such as these to continue striving but for that to happen, we need to address the elephant in the room.
Most tailors are stretched really thin by accepting orders they know they can’t fulfill on time. Perhaps its the fear of missing out on a paying customer or underestimating the amount of labor that would go into some of the creations they are contracted to make. Either way, this fear is misguided in that once the customer is dissatisfied with their work, chances of them returning are very slim- thus losing out on future income from such a customer. A tailor would be better served being honest in their ability to deliver a product. If anything, your clients would respect your honesty and would better manage their expectations.
We have a long and arduous journey ahead of us in repairing this reputation and improving the standards of tailored products in Kenya. This undertaking will only be successful if tailors participate in the conversation and accept responsibility. For solutions that last stakeholders need to work together and listen to each other. This is why we created this blog to be a safe space for discussion. In the end, we would like to see a positive impact in the tailoring and fashion community in East Africa.