For those of you who have been following my blog, you will know that I’ve had a recent staff crisis at my store. Before that I spent a lot of time organizing my biggest budget photoshoot yet, and before that I was dealing with the busiest season of the year, getting phonecalls and text messages at all times of day and night about alterations pieces (“can you please keep the store open for another 45 minutes- I’m leaving Annanagar just now and traffic is bad”). For the rest of you, long story short: there are few breaks of peace and quiet when you are running your own company.
Recently I took a two and a half day trip to a resort near Pondicherry to celebrate my first anniversary with my husband. Most of the first day was spent swimming in the sun, and lying down near the pool trying to read, only to fall asleep before waking up to a meal of beer and fries (see, I’m easy to please). It was heaven, and it made me realize how much I value free time; nothing like some quality lazy time to help the brain come up with creative ideas.
On the second day I started getting calls and text messages after breakfast about how the new sales girl was unwell and couldn’t come to work, and so I had to coordinate between the others to make sure someone was there to cover her shift. And that’s when it hit me for the hundredth time, only much harder than ever before: even if I can’t make frequent trips to a posh resort with a nice pool and people within ear shot to take another order of fries, I do want to have a couple of days in the week when I can just relax without having to worry about the store.
It’s not that I feel I’ve paid my dues and my days of working hard should be behind me. On the contrary, if you give me a few days with nothing to do, I will eventually start to work on something related to Brass Tacks. However I feel that I am overloaded right now, and with so much on my plate I can’t do an excellent job of anything. Designing, which is supposed to be the most fun and creative part, often gets pushed to the last minute when I’m tired and stressed. This is far from the life I dreamed of when I started Brass Tacks, and this staffing crisis was a wakeup call for me to get up and start working towards exactly what I want.
That second day after those phone calls, I pulled out my writing pad and pen and started putting down numbers. That swim can wait, let me first figure out how many garments I need to produce and how much that would cost if I were to open a larger store.
I need to find a business partner for a new store. I want a larger store, with better facilities (nice toilets, a room to eat, larger billing area, a place for staff to keep their bags, umbrellas, etc) and of course more space for merchandise. My partner should be willing to make some investment, and his/her responsibilities would include running the store. I would be in charge of production and design, and of course I’ll always be happy to help out at the store because when I’m in a good mood I really do love talking to customers and helping them find clothes that make them happy.
The building where my store is currently located is a corporation building (translation: decrepit old building with no maintenance and lousy amenities). Yes, yes, I know the location is fabulous because it is on the main road and right next to Shilpi (sari store) and Silver Moonlight (jewelry store). But honestly I’m not sure if it is worth it to stay in a location that comes up with so many problems. The parking situation is not always great, the maddening one-way street experiments make it really hard for people from Adyar to come to my store, the area is really dirty (sometimes when people use the backyard as a dump the stink comes into the store via the air-conditioner) and my staff hate the toilet and eating area. I guess in the end it all boils down to basics (oh, brass tacks! I am just realizing the irony of my situation).
I am still in the nascent stage of working out a business model that is appealing to a partner, and that will free up my time so I can work on more creative designs for both Brass Tacks Gold and Brass Tacks Madras. But the search for a partner begins right now, and I really think this could be the start of a better Brass Tacks store with faster growth for the company. As always, I’d love to hear thoughts and suggestions, and if you know of capable people who would be interested in running a franchise, send them my way.