One early morning I went with my daughter who is studying fashion design to a large shopping centre in Northcliffe, Johannesburg, to take photographs of woman’s clothing for her design project.
Her assignment was to take photographs of clothing that women would wear to work. She could take photographs of outfits for working women and also some photographs of details such as buttons, soaps, pockets and collars.
But at almost all of the retail clothing stores we were turned away because either the security or the manager said that the policy was not to allow photographs.
The most ironic response came from the Young Designers Emporium where we were told that they did not allow photographs to be taken of the clothing because people would “steal” the designers’ ideas. I find this policy short sighted in the extreme because there no way that my young daughter would be able to “copy” any of the designs and make them herself and then try to sell them.
She is at the beginners stage where she is only learning fashion design and still has to do patternmaking and fabrication. Besides, it would be so expensive for her to make just one garment given that she’s not in the business and doesn’t even have access to a supplier of wholesale priced fabrics.
One of the largest retail clothing stores said that their policy was that they required a letter from the head office for my daughter to take photographs of the mannequins and garments. Can you believe it? Doesn’t anybody at the store level have the management discretion to be able to allow a young student in fashion design to take photographs?
Yes, I suppose we were at fault because the fashion design lecturer had assigned the project on utility clothing for women but had not supplied a letter of introduction saying what the purpose of the project was and introducing the college’s bona fides.
Yet there was one retail clothing store that had polite staff who fully understood our request and even went out to help us identify the typical garments that working women would purchase from the store. In the store we were able to take several photographs not only of the garments on mannequins but also the required detail on the garments. Here is a store that has staff and management that are well-informed and know how to handle a variety of situations. Credit must go to the Edgar’s store which was helpful. My daughter also got incredible help from Foschini.
In your small business do you have a approach or even policy on allowing students to take photographs of your store and its merchandise? Do you simply turn them away or do you assist them? How do you handle such requests?
Small business owners are important employers of young people in the local community.
They often give a young person a break that they would not find anywhere else.
If you help a young person doing vocational education such as fashion design, retail merchandising, marketing, graphic design and computer technology, for example, you may find that they create goodwill for your store and may even become potential customers in the future.
It may be worthwhile to give little thought to how you would handle young people who are trying to work hard to complete the assignments and projects from vocational lecturers if they had requests for photography or even to interview you or one of your staff members.
Instead of shutting the door in the face of youngsters as the majors do, as a small business owner you know just how important it is to give young person a break in life no matter how small it is.