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Frustrated fledgling tailor looking for advice


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#1 Miekka

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Posted 30 September 2015 - 05:21 AM

Hello everyone,
I'm not sure whether this is this appropriate forum to post in but I'll give it a shot.
I'm an apprentice to master tailor in Rome going on two years now.
I realized that he has no intention of putting me on the payroll as he has a long time worker doing his suits (he pays his worker even for suits that I work on), so I go to the studio and make suits for myself.
To make ends meet I work part time during the weekends which sucks the life out of me because I never have a day to rest, and as a result spend very little time with my wife and newborn son.
I would really like to start working for some clients of my own, even at a lower price point, to turn my tailoring into an actual income and not just a serious hobby.
The problem is that I have no idea where to find these potential clients. I don't want to steal them for moral reasons.
I was hoping that maybe you guys could give me some advice, share some of your own experiences of when you started, or maybe just some encouragement. It's very frustrating putting your heart and soul into something and receiving very little fruit in return.
Thanks in return to anybody who takes the time to answer.

Edited by Miekka, 01 October 2015 - 06:09 AM.

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#2 SPOOKIETOO

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Posted 30 September 2015 - 05:42 AM

Assuming you've thought all of the other business aspects through (where to meet with clients, how to stock notions and supplies, etc.) Why not just set up a website? If you gain just one customer this way - it is one more than you had, and if you get 6 at once - you can control your workload.

 

After looking at other tailor's work on the internet - I would also suggest you photograph your best work. For example: No sloppy lapels.   


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#3 Miekka

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Posted 30 September 2015 - 05:49 AM

Thanks spookietoo,
I absolutely agree with making a website but I have no experience with web marketing whatsoever. I'm afraid to spend a bunch of money (which honestly I don't have) making a website that will just sit there in the infinite ocean of the internet without getting any views. How would I get potential clients to get to my site?

#4 Schneidergott

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Posted 30 September 2015 - 07:34 AM

Miekka, are you at a point where you actually can take on clients of your own?

I'm not just talking workroom (tables and tools), but also skill wise, mostly pattern making and cutting.

I get the feeling that many customers won't mind a flaw in the make here and there, as long as the fit is good.

If you cannot provide the latter you might get in trouble (bad reviews, refunds etc.).

 

Re. Website: Try a blog, they usually are free, or go for the cheapest option with one of the many website hosters.

Perhaps your internet provider offers such a service as well. Starting prices are around 5 Euro a month.


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"Nur der ist Meister seiner Kunst, der immer sucht, das Gute zu verbessern und niemals glaubt, das Beste schon zu haben."
"Only he is a master of his art who always seeks to improve the good and never believes to have the best already"

http://www.dressedwell.net/ It's snarky, but fun.


#5 Miekka

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Posted 30 September 2015 - 07:52 AM

Schneidergott,

I'm confident that I can turn out a very good product.
I studied pattern making and cutting at the camera europea dell'alta sartoria with maestro Luigi Gallo.
Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't open my own studio at this point... I still have things to learn before I fly with my own wings, for this I would charge a very reasonable price (I was thinking around 1000 excl. cloth).
I want to take on a few of my own clients as a sort of extension of my apprenticeship; a way to step up my learning while taking in even a minimal income.
I would be doing the work and fittings under My maestro's supervision at his studio. I know that he would be more than okay with that.

About the blog, I think it would be a better solution at this point than a website, but what would I write about, and how would I get anybody to pay any attention to it or care?

Edited by Miekka, 01 October 2015 - 03:49 AM.

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#6 Terri

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Posted 30 September 2015 - 08:02 AM

Have you spoken to m. celentano about the place you find yourself in? I don't know what the terms of your apprenticeship are, but to work unpaid is not sustainable.
This is a problem, expecting people to work for exchange of knowledge. It may have been the norm 100 years ago but it is not the norm now. And tailors have the gall to comain that once they have taught an apprentice everything, the apprentice leaves.
Really?
If you are working on garments that are being sold, ie doing real work, in North America anyway, you must be paid for your time working at minimum wage.
If you have some arrangement to trade work for information then you are doing yourself and others who wish to follow the same path some harm in the long run, especially perpetuating unsupportable conditions!

My thought is that you are doing work good enough to be sold you should be paid at least something.

This sort of thing gets my back up.
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#7 Miekka

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Posted 30 September 2015 - 08:06 AM

Terri,
I agree in fact once I understood that he wasn't going to start paying me I stopped working for his suits. Now I go to work on suits for myself, which in turn is why I'm searching for clients... I won't learn much if I keep cutting and fitting for myself.

In his defense, he is 74 years old and follows old values. Since he was the only tailor in Rome willing to take me on as an apprentice I can't complain. I prefer to learn the trade without being paid than not learn at all.
Plus if I find my own paying clients I can do all of the work in his studio under his supervision which is great; the problem is finding the clients.

Edited by Miekka, 30 September 2015 - 08:23 AM.

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#8 Terri

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Posted 30 September 2015 - 08:46 AM

Isn't it part of an apprenticeship to be given a client eventually? Someone new, or To be given some paying work by cutting and making a clients trousers or waistcoat?
Shouldn't he be supporting your growth in this manner? Maybe he doesn't have enough clients for this? I don't know.

Good luck though.

#9 hutch48

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Posted 30 September 2015 - 12:01 PM

It would not do you any harm to start doing alterations at a reasonable price rather than jump directly into high end clothing manufacturing, even though you sound like you have the skills to do this type of work. Alterations will make you some money and if your work is good people will start to trust you with higher quality work. Gradualism is the idea here, start doing alterations and progress over time to making complete garments as you get better known. A low cost or free website would help you here if you can get it known.


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#10 greger

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Posted 30 September 2015 - 01:45 PM

Even in the old days pay was according to the job. A coat was so many jobs. For example, making sleeves, putting in sleeves, collar, making pockets, making the canvas, basting the coat up for a fitting, etc. Each job takes so much time, so each job has a dollar value. There might be five tailors working on one coat. One tailor might do three jobs on that coat, and another two, and so on. Each gitting paid for each job they did. Since each job has a dollar value, even though it takes the apprentice longer, he is paid the dollar amount. This old tailor should know this and pay you for each job. If not, then the other tailor should pay you accordingly.

Skip Hutch's idea.

#11 A TAILOR

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Posted 30 September 2015 - 03:27 PM

Use a blog or a website to advertise. That would be the cheapest and easiest and quickest way to become known.

Since you have a work shop to use, let people know that for their convenience you will give the fittings at their homes.



#12 jukes

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Posted 30 September 2015 - 08:23 PM

Put some photo's of your work on here, this site is looked at by customers as well as tailors.

#13 Che Pasticcio

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Posted 30 September 2015 - 10:44 PM

Have you ever expressed wanting to get paid now for your work? A lot can be missed by not speaking up. Sometimes an employer leaves it up to the employee to take the initiative to ask for a salary/hourly increase. I'm not suggesting this is his plan, but that you don't lose anything by asking. Some people might have the tendency to feel greedy by asking for what they feel is too high a number, but in this case I think it's only humane he pays you any figure at all. I don't know what the situation was for apprentices in the past who worked for nothing, but maybe they ate breakfast and lunch for free with the tailors, and free dinner at home with mom : p 

 

I live in DC and people here who work decent, honest jobs probably spend around 1/3-1/2 their money in rent alone. I'm sure Rome is expensive too. With your wife and son in mind, you need to tell him there simply is no financial cushion for you to fall back on. 



#14 SPOOKIETOO

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Posted 30 September 2015 - 11:02 PM

Jukes is correct, you can post on here.

Also many well established businesses have Facebook pages. A Facebook page can probably be easier found than a blog. Linking your post here to a blog would give you the opportunity to elaborate on your skills.

And of course we'd all love to see your work!

#15 tailleuse

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Posted 01 October 2015 - 02:12 AM

[Edited in view of revision to thread.]


Edited by tailleuse, 01 October 2015 - 06:25 AM.

Dignity. Always, dignity. (Singin' in the Rain)


#16 tailleuse

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Posted 01 October 2015 - 02:17 AM

Have you ever expressed wanting to get paid now for your work? A lot can be missed by not speaking up. Sometimes an employer leaves it up to the employee to take the initiative to ask for a salary/hourly increase. I'm not suggesting this is his plan, but that you don't lose anything by asking. Some people might have the tendency to feel greedy by asking for what they feel is too high a number, but in this case I think it's only humane he pays you any figure at all. ...

 

It's good to be direct, but maybe he's afraid that his maestro will end the relationship if he asks to be paid. Then he'll be worse off because he won't even be gaining experience. It's hard for me to believe that an employer would not sense that his or her apprentice would like to earn a living wage at some point.

 

EDITED TO ADD:

 

I haven't read "Lean In" because I'm afraid it would annoy me too much. Sheryl Sandberg seems to not understand that people in the past have leaned in and then been kicked out.  But maybe with sufficient awareness and numbers things will change.


Edited by tailleuse, 01 October 2015 - 06:28 AM.

Dignity. Always, dignity. (Singin' in the Rain)


#17 Miekka

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Posted 01 October 2015 - 03:58 AM

Thanks everyone for responding.
Tailleuse, I changed my posts; I didn't even think about it when I wrote the post. To be clear though I'm not complaining about my maestro because he's a wonderful person and a great teacher, I'm frustrated with the situation. You are absolutely correct that I'm afraid he will end the relationship if I'm too direct.
I've tried to approach the subject discreetly before and that helped me understand that a payroll wasn't part of the plan.
I guess I'll tempt increasing my presence online and hope for the best.
I'll post some pictures here as well as soon as I get a chance.
Again thank you everyone for posting.
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#18 A TAILOR

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Posted 01 October 2015 - 05:50 AM

There is another place that you forgot to remove the name from.


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