My father (above) is a tailor. My father’s father was a tailor. In a small town called Kuala Belait, the name Hoon Chin is synonymous with quality custom made clothing. A trade passed on from one generation to the next, over several decades of excellence in service and in craftsmanship.
Just the other day during a Hari-Raya visit, I drew an instant recognition from my neighbor’s father by mentioning my dad’s business. The man’s recollection of Hoon Chin was from the old days with the very thin gentlemen that took care of his family’s clothing, who happened to be my grand father.
Since young, mum & dad had always discouraged all our siblings from following their footsteps in this career. Because it is no easy money, the labor is lengthy and intensive, and you often end up at the mercy of your staff during busy seasons.
Furthermore, tailoring business will soon be a craft of the past, with ready to wear clothing being more affordable and available ubiquitously. I have always preferred jeans to trousers. An issue that have raised a lot of conflict between my parents and I since young, especially come Sunday, when one is “expected” to dress up for God.
The business has put all four of our siblings through further studies overseas, and produced a Doctor in the family (that does no good to sick people), therefore each of us have much to be proud about our heritage. Looking back, I attribute much of my business savvys to the observation of my parents dealing with clients and staff since young.
After a decade of working, I came to the conclusion that business at the grass root level is not much different from the corporate world. In fact, many a times it is can be a lot more stressful and demanding being a small business owner. Because at 12 noon, you begin to worry about when the first customer is going to come in, and at the end of the month you worry about whether or not there is enough left over for the family when you have paid up for all the staff and the rentals.
Branding is not a new business buzzword, but a trendy one that has been used over and over again to justify hefty corporate spendings on advertising and promotion. Most people relate a brand to fancy logo or clever tag line or even a series of cool marketing campaigns.
I for one, have been making a living selling customers the dream of establishing the perfect branding, positioning their products correctly at the right place, at just the right time.
While none of these is wrong, I came to a powerful realization that; the mark of a really powerful brand is the name and the story your customers remembers generations later, after you were long gone.
Just like the recollection made of my late grandfather’s tailor shop at the Hari Raya party!