Stitch by Stitch, Alumnus is Building a High-Growth Fashion Business

March 10, 2019
Enoch had grown up watching his renowned tailor grandfather make clothes for people from all walks of life. With tailoring experience in Ghana and the U.K., his grandfather taught him a lot about working in fashion. And though the business folded, Enoch never forgot how intrigued he had been watching his grandfather work.

A year after graduating from Ashesi– a year he had spent working in finance and observing high unmet demand for bespoke clothing– he recognized that there was still a profitable market in tailored clothing. With little tailoring skill, however, he resigned from his finance job and signed up to be an apprentice with a tailor in Accra.

Despite the setback, a commitment to learning pays off
“I was fired by that tailor very quickly,” he recounts. “I had too little knowledge, and the tailor didn’t appreciate how long it was taking me to pick up skills. He needed someone who could help him work faster, not slow him down. Even though it was a disappointing start, it was not that big a setback. I decided to keep at it.”

Enoch went on to acquire his own sewing machine and spent months learning how to make men’s clothing on his own. And with no clients to sell to yet, he started wearing the clothes himself – to friend’s events, to church, and to anywhere he could. It turned out to be a wise decision. He started receiving a lot of compliments, and eventually, requests for some of his clothes.

“People loved the simplicity of the clothes,” he explains. “But what they did not know was that my clothes were simple because I had only one machine and did not have the range of skills to do much more. I was still a novice. Reflecting on that now, I consider it a good lesson in having the courage to just start something and learn as you go.”

Rapid growth brings undesirable challenges
Recruiting a few tailors he launched his business and called it Grandpa, as a tribute to his grandfather. But his challenges were not yet resolved. He soon realized that beyond learning how to make clothes, he also had a lot to learn about running a proper business. The popularity of his clothes grew faster than his business capacity, and soon he was falling behind on delivery schedules and facing a lot of criticism from clients.

“We were receiving far more orders for clothes than we could complete,” he explains. “And for a while, the pressure of constantly working to meet demand distracted us from realizing that great customer service experiences were just as important. It took some painful learning, but we eventually paused to think through fixes for our customer experience processes. And we have resolved not to let it get away from us like before.”

From one tailor to twenty
Started as a one-person business, Grandpa’s now employs some twenty tailors and makes over sixty clothing items each week. And with a new process structure and an expanded administrative team now in place, Enoch is committed to establishing both product quality and good customer service at scale.

“In our early days, I was thinking about meeting very specific fashion styles and preferences,” he shared. “As we keep growing, however, I see more opportunities to serve a broader client base. And at this rate, we are now able to take on training for new tailors and others interested in tailoring. I am hoping I can help others gain skills, without having to go through some of the disappointments that I did when I first started out as an apprentice.”

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