Marketing with Your Customer in Mind: Martina’s Little Shack

Small Business Owners Can Learn from a Little Seamstress Who Puts Her Customers First

How many businesses really show how much they care for their customers? Honestly, if you go from one vendor to the next trying to find a good bargain (i.e., inexpensive but great quality), did you use your intuition to guide you? I did. Or maybe I do most of the time. I pride myself for being a great shopper, so let me tell you something about a wonderful seamstress. She will go by the name of Martina.

Back view of a young woman in wedding dress looking at bridal gowns on display in boutique

I actually went to a couple other seamstresses to help me fix my wedding dress. Although I ordered it according to my specific size, the straps were a little too long, and the chest area of the dress was too loose even with a push-up bra. So off I went to visit the first two seamstresses. One had a home-based business. She had me try it on, and I couldn’t find any traces of her sewing machine or pins anywhere. I told her what was wrong with the dress, and I offered a suggestion. She took it. I was surprised that I knew better than her. She put pins on the areas under my arm because that’s what I told her. I told her I want an inch off and she agreed. I also showed her the parts of the dress where there were light blue stains. I had no idea what they were or where they came from. The seamstress said she doesn’t want to touch it because it might ruin the dress. She offered to stitch the areas with the blue stain to hide them. Then I asked her about the pricing; she said it will cost around $40 to $50. And I asked how long it will take before she gets the dress fixed, she said it will take at least a week.

I did not judge the first two seamstresses but I was aware I could get a better deal somewhere. So I told them I’m taking my dress with me and talk to another person before I see them again.

First Impressions
My first impression with the third seamstress, Martina, was that of slight horror. I drove to her little shack and missed it. It was dingy. Inside, it was a mess of spools and used clothes. Scraps lying on the couch. Old sewing machines; archaic embroidery machines. Even the whole body mirror didn’t have a stand. I tried to convince myself that this was not the place to get your wedding dress fixed. Martina herself looked a little shabby.

The Antsy Bride
So I told her about my dilemma and she looked at the dress. She had me try it on (she didn’t even have a dressing room!). Then I told her what I wanted her to do with it, just like I did with the other seamstresses. She disagreed. She said I needed two inches taken off the straps. She didn’t put a pin in the areas under the arm because she said it will ruin the dress. Instead, tighten up and sew the cleavage part of the dress. I was not sure that was the right thing to do. I was very anxious and wanted to look pretty on my wedding day. If the dress doesn’t turn out okay, then I’m damned. I was hoping Martina could sympathize.

As she stuck the pins on the front part of the dress, she poked herself and left tiny droplets of blood on the white chiffon dress. Oh my God! I was horrified. “You just stained my dress!” I cried. “Don’t worry,” she said. I can take it off with peroxide. “I had done it before.” And then I told her about the blue stains. She said she will ask her friend that works at the laundromat. The friend apparently is an expert when it comes to matters of delicate cleaning. I felt relieved.

I asked Martina about her pricing. “Twenty-five dollars plus tax.” I was surprised. Then I asked her how long it will take for her to finish the dress. She said, in about a week, depending on her workload. I begged her to put my wedding dress on the top of her priority list.

Martina and I finally shared a few stories about our experiences before I left her little tumbledown shack. She hung my dress up on the wall. I looked at it lovingly. I was praying she will not mess it up.

Unexpected Service
The next day, when I was at work, I got a call from Martina saying my dress was ready. Good Lord! I told her I couldn’t come over and get the dress on the same day, so I visited her the next day when I was off. I asked her, how come she got it done so fast? She said, she got so nervous and sympathized with me as a bride. She did not want me to worry on my wedding day.

I tried the dress on and thought it fit alright, albeit just a little tight on me. It felt like she cut off too much of the straps. I could see from the inside of the dress’ cleavage how much she stitched to tuck it in. I felt the difference, and it fit better than when I first brought it in. Then the most amazing thing struck me. The blue stains and the blood were gone! She told me she just used regular soapy detergent to take the blue stains (it turned out they were the ink used to mark the fabric) and peroxide against the tiny blood stains. I was so happy!

I thanked Martina and paid her the invoice. Now you’ll ask, what happened to the other seamstresses? Well, I did not try to contact them because I found a vendor that knew what she was doing. Despite the weird first impression, Martina proved to be a great business owner. She cared about her clients and sympathized with them. She did not charge a whole lot for the quick service. I don’t know about her range of clientele, but I will certainly recommend her to any friend who is looking for someone who could get the job done right and on time.