A recent financial crunch has got me thinking about the future and security of Brass Tacks. I’m not referring to the recession but rather my current bank balance. I’ve been ordering fabric in large quantities to feed my store as well as the Brass Tacks section at Daaram (Hyderabad), but it’s going to take a long time for sales to pick up there and for me to recover those costs. The good news is that the low bank balance has motivated me to think of new sales solutions like the new pricing scheme and the idea of brighter colours for future collections. What I need to focus on next are issue of scale. How viable are some of my measures for quality control as the company grows bigger?
Take, for example, the issue of fabric shrinkage. To guarantee my customers that none of my clothes will shrink I have them all washed once. If a fabric has a loose weave, it is soaked for an hour and then washed. If the shrinkage is very high, it is washed again to shrink a second time. This process also gets rid of surface dyes and any nasty smell that the fabric has absorbed during its long train journey to Chennai. Right now all the fabric is washed by the woman who washes clothes at my parents’ house. It started out with tiny quantities of 30 metres of fabric per week, but as the company has grown the quantities have gone up (I’m embarrassed to admit how much fabric I send home every week). It just doesn’t make sense for me to send all the fabric home- it seems so unprofessional and so cottage industry-ish for a company that wants to operate like a mini industry. However at the moment I don’t have another solution. There must be large industrial machines out there that mimic a “gentle handwash” process for handwoven fabrics, but I haven’t had the time to research them yet.
Until Brass Tacks has more creative solutions for the not-so-easy-to-scale stuff, we’re still washing all our fabric in-house (literally). And since both my parents were out of town last week and none of their domestic help came to work, the next best (and immediate) solution for some kora coloured khadi fabric to be shrunk was for me to wash it. Oh well, at least the dress ("Lady Bird") got made in time for weekend sales.