Many years ago, I met a promising young lady and we became friends. She told me she was a fashion designer and also showed me pictures of her works. In the bid to support her business and also address immediate needs, I gave her some fabrics to work on. We negotiated the fees after selecting the styles for these outfits together. The first challenge was the timeline. I gave her ample time of 1 month to finish up and get the clothes to me. She kept coming up with excuses and I kept quiet (at least she is my friend, I thought to myself). After the hurdle of the timeline, it was a case of getting the dresses. We initially said she was to deliver then the story changed, she asked me to come pick the items up at her home and I refused flatly. I suggested that we meet up somewhere at a time we both agreed on. Unfortunately, I had to wait for 2 hours 30 mins before she showed up with a smile on her face (she ignored her calls and didn’t even have the courtesy to send a text). At this time, I was fuming but I decided to focus on the beautiful dresses I would eventually try on. I thanked her and went back home. On checking the clothes, my smile fell apart. The dresses were nothing to write home about. We agreed to have stones on the dresses but she used very cheap and big stones which made the clothes look “mgbeke-ish” (ugly in a local kinda way). The clothes fit poorly and the styles were totally off. I had to give the dresses out because they were horrible. I cut all ties with her and promised myself to never make the same mistake again. Now that I think about it, I believe she charged me so much money, gave the clothes to a roadside tailor who “murdered” the styles and didn’t have the sense to inspect the clothes before delivering to me. The picture below is a perfect example of my experience.
Fast forward to the year 2013, my friend and sister was getting married. Our excitement was enough to fill the oceans with good-looking fish and living creatures. My friends and I lodged in a hotel for privacy sake and the aesthetics-related preparations started. Kike called Tayo (an hairdresser and friend (I didn’t know she was a friend at this time) over to the hotel to help fix her hair for the red-letter day. When she showed up, we exchanged greetings and waited, ready to assist in any way we could. A nail beautician was there as well to fix my friend’s nails (anything to give Kike a look fit for royalty). Questions came up in my head as Tayo sat down and folded her arms (questions like “what is she waiting for?” “why isn’t she doing her job?” and so on). Then I asked the same question thinking she needed some form of help. That was when she burst the colourful bubble of perfection I had created about her. She looked at us as she mumbled something about not liking to take out a previously fixed weave. Kike laughed as I tried to process what I just heard from this seemingly ‘qualified’ hairdresser.
The real issue here as you might have guessed is the fact that familiarity is a business killer. If you have charged a proper fee, then treat the friend, brother or whoever in a manner that is truly professional so they don’t feel cheated. Don’t think that they won’t get upset. They will (they have a right to be if you charged them the market price) and they won’t recommend you even if you apologise and beg them afterwards. And if you are a friend, ensure you pay the fees as discussed. Don’t owe your friend, it makes a mockery of the friendship you are supposed to have. I have some colleagues that sell good stuff and they are super courteous because they understand that business is supposed to be a mutually beneficial exchange. If you are planning to get a wedding dress and the works, DEO Bridals is your best bet (she makes bespoke dresses). She is thorough, pays attention to EVERY detail including your budget (that is why I looked like a queen on my special day). If you have not eaten hotdogs, donuts and noodles courtesy of Oyesplaize (find her on instagram), you have not even started (delicious, well-seasoned and beautifully packaged). For unique fashion pieces and fantastic customer experience, follow Debola (house of Debola) on Instagram. My friend who sells fruit salad is also good at it. Her packages are neat and well arranged with picks and serviette (note that she is selling to friends/colleagues but she goes the extra mile to ensure that her friends turned customers have a fantastic experience so they can buy the next day). Familiarity or friendship is not a basis for mediocrity *drops mic*As my slow brain (yes garbage slows down my thought process sometimes cos it takes time to conjure a ‘like really?’ expression) pushed my counter-question forward, I opened my mouth and asked her in a manner harsher than intended “Oo ni se kini?” (For those who don’t understand Yoruba, this is simply a rhetorical question meaning “You won’t do what?”). Kike tried to get me quiet but I quickly called her to order with my eyes and she knew it was an exercise in futility to shut me up at that point. I quickly reminded the young lady that she was being paid to do a job and “do” she will. She wasn’t being paid a token o, she asked for a proper fee which was a lot of money (Nigerians know that all you need to do is put bridal in front of anything and the price of the said item or service triples or 4-ples..Lol). To say I was furious is putting it lightly. As soon as I finished the lecture on doing a professional job, the young lady calmly picked up a blade and started to take out the former weave. Kike was in shock, she could not believe that her quiet and easy going friend (that is me) would be the one to invoke fire and brimstone for something that obvious. Even the nail beautician could not hold back her disappointment at the hairdresser’s attitude and she jokingly asked her if she wanted to fix the bridal hair on the former weave as she was not willing to do her job the way it should be done. We ended up laughing together (the hairdresser included) because I made up for the awkward moment by getting her a drink (call it bribery if you want, my mother raised me to be courteous *wink*). Bottom line: Kike looked like a queen after the hair and nail makeover.
It is important to ask for genuine feedback from your friends/customers because they are your friends and they should be able to tell you the truth. Sort out their issues with all seriousness because it is the right thing to do. Please tell us what you have learnt from doing business (as customer or service provider) with friends (good or bad) by leaving comments below. We would love to hear from you.
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