Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Open Letter: To the Suppliers & Consumers Alike, But Mostly the Supplier

Prelude: For the purpose of this post, 'Supplier(s)' refers to fashion designers, retailers, brands, individuals of powers, celebrities, magazines etc. In fact, anyone or place or entity that I would go to to request information to post on my blog. 'Consumer(s)' will therefore refer to the people and or organisations that read my blog.

Some might consider this kind of 'open letter' or editorial a little premature for my blog and I, but I think there is no time like the present. One of the reasons why nothing ever gets done between parties is because we're always seemingly waiting for the right moment and usually neither party knows when that right moment is.

Therefore, I make this moment I type this post and you read it, the best moment.

Fresh into blogging about mens fashion and deciding to take myself serious enough to see this endeavor through thick and thin, I decided to stick to my usual guns of doing things professionally and with etiquette. Honestly, I'm traditionalist like that. That's how I roll.

So, out went a batch of emails to potential suppliers that I have identified as key to creating a portal of valuable information for my consumers. I sent those emails left right and centre and with quite an in-depth summary of why the supplier was receiving the email and what I required from the supplier to produce content for my consumers. Many of these emails were met with silence. Not even a, "we have received your email and will attend to it shortly', response. Nothing. Nada.

Follow-up emails were then sent, after I realised that clearly, these suppliers were thinking I'm smoking vintage socks for sending them these emails. So, to show further initiative, enthusiasm and professionalism, I sent follow up emails. I mean, surely, someone would respond accordingly.

So my luck changed. Just a little. One of my suppliers, Trevor Madondo, responded to my email. Answered all questions asked and provided all extras as requested. I was like, "Wow", there was definitely life on Mars. Now all that needed to happen was to have the other suppliers follow suit. Alas, I still wait with baited breath. And it's not just that situation. Retailers were emailed, asking for permission to go into a specific store and collect content to use on my blog and mentions of the retailer in the post were offered. Alas, no retailer responded.

So today (Tuesday, 13 December 2011 - for those of you reading this days later than when it was posted), I walked store-to-store at the fabulous V&A Waterfront, asking store managers permission to take photos of their latest items so I could gather fresh, 'off the shelf' so to speak content for my blog. Well, it were as if wasps were doing the shuffling in my eyes and ears every time a manager responded with a, "No". I mean, really? It's for my blog. I don't own a sweat shop that makes imitations of shoes made in China. It's for my blog. An online portal where people click on and view whatever new content that has been posted.

So that was what I faced for about 45 minutes. Diesel said no. Spitz said no. J.Crew said no. Truworths had no manager to assist. Fabiani said they would refer it to head office, and I'm expecting a no, since I've dealt with Fabiani head office before for something else even less intrusive and they said no then. I mean, I was getting slaps of no to my face all the way down the aisle. So, finally, I decided, one last attempt would be Woolworths, before I go home in shame. And I thought, men's fragrances will be the easiest way to get into things.

I started chatting to the Beauty Department Manager, Samantha, explained my situation and what this quest I was on was about. She obliged, merely stating standard rules that Woolworths would need me to abide by and I'd be free to take as many photos as I need and chat to the consultants in order to get the best info. And viola, there was my content for the blog. Handed over on a silver platter.

The consultants at Woolworths were on the ball with everything I needed and they even cleared a space for me to take product shots of my own.

The point of all this is that as a blogger, for me to provide relevant, South African produced content for my consumers, who are South Africans, I will need the South African suppliers to come to the table and assist. We surf the net and read plenty blogs and sometimes we wonder why there's not enough local content. It's because local suppliers with that content are selfish in their ways and seem to think people have ulterior motives when they ask for information and images.

Bloggers in South African will never grow consistently and maturely, producing locally sourced content, if those with the information and products that we should be blogging about do not play ball with us. Stiaan Louw, considered one of, if not the only fore-runner of menswear in South Africa, is yet to reply to an email of mine requesting information so I can do a write up on him and his brand for my blog. I wonder.

I really do, chill in my seat and wonder what these suppliers think when they get my emails and they decide not to respond. And in all honesty, I would even welcome an email saying you're not interested in assisting at the time because of what ever reason. Just a response. So I know I'm not dealing with a brick wall and that in fact, there is a human on the other end receiving these emails and actually reading them.

It's no wonder we are not exporting our fashions as we should be and we're importing most of the basic items we could make ourselves. Because people in South Africa don't find the need to respond to anything. And again, this is probably why only the famous ever get to do anything interesting or be involved with interesting projects, and that's because 'celebrities' only give the time of day to other 'celebrities' and suppliers only feed information to the 'better-known' bloggers.

But it's okay. 1 'celebrity' so far has responded to me and 1 retailer has responded. I openly admit to refusing to google local celebrities and products when I can get the information for my blog from the source. So up until then, my consumer, you will have to bear with me. The only time I plan on uploading googled posts, is when it comes to international brands and personalities that I can't possibly gain direct access to.

The aim of the game for me, is to provide my consumers with South African sourced information primarily and I will stick to my guns on this. I'd rather have 1 blog post a week, than resort to googled international content only. I'm proudly South African, my consumers are proudly South African, so best the local suppliers start acting proudly South African too.

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