learn to trust your instincts and never lose yourself — Lionesses of Africa

by Brigette Mashile 

The other day I was wondering why I am more comfortable to work with a lot of people today; and also why I am able to tackle any type of garment presented to me? In the beginning, in 2014, at age 27 I was more cautious, hesitant, and simply scared.  Every enquiry I received, I had to analyze if it was something I had done before. Today my answer to the question, ‘Can you do this?’ is almost automatic. I believe I will be able to deliver on most challenges. That I think is confidence! 

It is important to be confident in life in general. It carries you through tough times, great times, and quiet days. The ability to believe that you are on the right track, that it will be fine and that YOU CAN is harder to achieve than people will admit. It took me a few years to be confident in SELF, which in turn led to confidence in my work. Here is a list of specific areas I struggled with confidence in:

1. Saying No

Every single day people will try you. For whatever reason they have in their lives, a reason that makes sense for them; that you are not aware of. This is where the saying ‘not everything is about you’ comes from. The other day I was asked if I would be able to consult at 8pm, and I simply said no. I went to explain why (I shouldn’t have!), but I did. I was then asked if I could at 8am…now this one is tricky because most people expect businesses to start between 8 and 9am. I don’t. So, my no here was more painful for me to say.  Again, I have my reasons which have nothing to do with the clients (directly). In 2014 I was seeing clients whenever they were available, I regret this greatly.

2. My skill

There is no one way of making a dress. Just like anything else in life. People in different parts of the world make the same thing differently. It is that creativity thing God has for us all. So, in the beginning I wanted to make dresses ‘properly’; I wanted to do it the way it was expected by whoever is the ‘President of Dresses!’ I finally realized that the way I was trained at school was longer, costly, and not the only way.  I found that the more I made dresses, the more I found easier but effective ways to deliver the same product. And that my friends is progress – smart progress. Today, when I look at a dress that looks difficult, I know I must cut it down in my mind first; imagine it on paper, and boom I have it. I also know that the client couldn’t have landed with me without God trusting me. I also know that I am able to change, amend and adjust a garment until it becomes what we need it to be. 

3. Prices

The uncomfortable cringe topic. My prices were low, and in my opinion are still low. The difference today is I know which products will still give us a profit at a low price; and which products simply cannot be priced low. I guess also with the experience, I have collected enough data to know how long and how much effort a certain garment will take. I can give a ballpark price for any garment without finalizing details. I know how to do this without hurting our business. The part that I am still working on is clients. Some people challenge our prices, and I have had to teach myself to respond to the challenge without causing offence. This is an EQ issue. I have to not offend, suggest options, and WIN the client over. It is easier doing this now as I UNDERSTAND why our prices are the way they are.

A lot of the issues in business are never about the actual business, but human interaction. This is where I have always struggled. Each time I wanted to close ROKA ROKO down, it was after a bad experience with a client. Mastering working with others well is probably the answer to all of life’s questions. We all need people, everyday; and we are needed by people every day. We are thrown in different situations each day, this needs you to be sure of self, trust your instincts and never lose yourself. THAT’S CONFIDENCE!

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