The Tale of the Seamstress that Bled on My Wedding Dress
Now that the wedding is over, I can laugh about the tragic events that took place during my wedding weekend and weeks leading up to it. But this blog you're about to read is about one specific tragedy. It's not just about a hardworking person making a mistake on the job. I make mistakes all the time. It's about black Businesses treating their customers better. Now don't get me wrong, I have experienced poor customer service from all races. But it only hurts when it's my people and I'm intentionally trying to support them. It's about the principles.
So it all started with the perfect wedding dress. I went to this store in the heart of North County. The owner was super nice and the dress was way cheaper there than it would've been had I gone to David's Bridal for the qualify of the dress. I was excited I found the dress early on in the wedding planning process. I bought my dress in March and we decided July would be a good time to do the fitting and start alterations. The wedding wasn't until September so everything was on schedule.
At the second fitting, I remembered that I'm short and needed to hymn the bottom. So the owner set up an appointment to meet with their seamstress the following week. Within the next few days, the owner called back stating that the seamstress was wondering if we could meet in early August instead of July. I'm still good at this point. I'm like it's just a hymn. It shouldn't take that long. Right?
So August comes around and my mother and I meet the seamstress. I won't lie, we were being super friendly. I know what it's like being a black woman in a white female dominated field from working in social services , so I was sympathetic if nothing else. My mom and I made small talk while she pinned my dress. She joined in the convo , which I didn't mind at first. I assumed she didn't see many of us on a daily basis and found us refreshing.
During the alterations appointment she suggested I get a bustle to better fit the dress. I didn't even know what a bustle was, but I'm like sure, it sound boujee. Everything was going seemingly good. But then she started over sharing a little. And I was thinking, " Okay, didn't need to know you couldn't make it in corporate America so you started sewing, you don't have kids, and it was too many of y'all growing up; but okay."
So I get quiet because at that point I had been standing in a hot dress for a while and I didn't want her to accidentally stick me. That would've been terrible, right? But then the unthinkable happened. Homegirl stuck herself with a pin!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Suddenly blood was rushing out of her finger and onto my expensive white wedding dress.
Not trying to be dramatic, but it was hella blood for a small stick. I was thinking in my head, "Damn girl are you sick." My mother jumps into action. She snatches up her water bottle and treats Dasani like holy water. Meanwhile the seamstress freezes. She says nothing. No apology. She didn't ask to excuse herself to come up with a plan. Nothing. She tends to her finger and says nothing.
So my initial thought, being an empathe is to ask, "Hey, is your finger okay."
She's finally like "That's so sweet of you to ask. I'm okay. " My mom is visibly pissed but trying to keep it together.
So then the seamstress goes " I know how people are about wedding dresses so I'm gonna take some money off for the bleeding and I'm going to clean it. We have the solution here to do it. "
I'm like "yassss. " Finna get these alterations for the free-free.
Then she says, "I'll take off $25." I thought that was shady from the jump. Considering I had to pay $200 and she talked me into the bustle.
At that point I just wanted to get out of that hot dress and meditate. Before leaving the dress shop, she asked when the actual wedding was. I told her it was September 10th. She responded, " Okay great. We have plenty of time." I remember that line verbatim because I remember how that eased some anxiety knowing that my dress would be ready and blood-free by the time my wedding rolled around. We scheduled for me to come back in two weeks and if need be, I could come back the Saturday following for any additional alterations.
So I forgave her. I thought that she felt bad for not only bleeding on my dress but freezing like a dear in headlights and continuing to drip on me. I figured she would make my dress a priority. Hella wrong.
Two weeks later, she contacts me the day before the fitting and asks to reschedule. I'm like, okay what's a week going to do. I'm doing positive self talk and running around doing a million other things, but okay! Another week.
But then, the next week came and she wanted to reschedule again. Let me lay out the timeline. We attempt to do alterations in July, get pushed back to August. The second alterations fitting is pushed back from the third week in August to the final week in August. Here I am twelve days before my wedding without my dress.
I'm at work trying not to flip out. My mother is like "I'm about to call her." Now I'm nervous. For those of you who don't know much about my mom, she is from north St. Louis City and currently has two masters degrees. Under no circumstances is that someone you want to have a conflict with.
An hour later I check my texts. The seamstress has texted me yet again. This time she says "Can I call you about your mothers phone call."
I touched bases with my mother first, whose texting me essays about the conversation. I'll spare you the messages, but essentially, the seamstress is suddenly claiming that this was a rushed job. Remember she said there was plenty of time? She also replied my mothers frustrations with the process by stating that she does not work for the boutique and is an independent contracted seamstress. Which is cool and all, but all of your referrals come from the boutique and you were the one we had an issue with not the dress shop.
But here's the part that took me out. The part that made my head spin, my stomach churn, and my fist ball. When my mother asked her how far along she had gotten on alterations , she responded, "I haven't started yet." So this women waits until the day I'm supposed to pick up my dress, to try to reschedule, yet again, and she hadn't even started yet.
At that point, I'm heated. I had to take a break from the desk to get some air. I decided to strategize how to respond to this. I could've easily cursed her out. I chose to tell myself to remain calm. Not for her, but for me. I am at the point of my life where if there is time for me to think of my responses I do so, so that I don't catch a case. I am too valuable of a person to allow someone to take me out of my character and end up in a Missouri prison. But also, don't push me too far.
After my heart and head eased up from racing, I called the seamstress. I let her talk, pretending to not know that my mother read her for filth.
She said, "So I talked to your mother. She said that you will just come pick the dress up without alterations. Is that what you plan to do?"
I very calmly told her that Thursday (two days from the conversation) was the only time I could come get the dress before the wedding. I explained to her that I work downtown and I don't drive the highway so it would literally be impossible to pick up the dress any other day at any other time while the boutique was open. I asked her if she would be able to do the hymn in two days. I told her I didn't need the bustle.
Guess what her response was? "So you wan't to be tripping over your dress all night?"
I counted to five in my head and repeated myself, "I will be picking up my dress Thursday at 5:00pm." Minutes later she texts me and asks if she can push it back to 6:00pm. She said, "If you don't think you will be able to drive that far out after work I can pick you up from downtown." Girl, nobody wants to get in your car. We are not friends. I am a customer. Needless to say, I declined the offer.
Before I could even get in the dress, the seamstress goes, "Will you be paying with check or cash." She made sure the owner was standing there. I write the check and I'm trying to get the dress and leave. The owner was like, "You don't want to try it on?" I'm like no sis, I'll look at it, but I need to go. I could feel myself getting infuriated. Not to mention the seamstress was giving me the side eye. She just knew I wouldn't try her with the owner standing there.
So I look at the dress and guess whats on it? Blood. There's still a drop of blood that's visible. The seamstress goes, "Well if you wanted to come back Saturday I could've fixed it, but you want to take it now." I'm really feeling myself about to transform into The Hulk.
I simply replied, "I want this out, now." The owner of the shop politely goes and gets a solutions and gets the spot off. The seamstress and I are just staring at each other. She has a little smirk on her face like she won a chess game. I thanked the owner and gracefully left the store without acknowledging her or giving her the satisfaction of me becoming my ghetto alterego that's always ready.
You may be asking, some questions right now. Like why didn't I go off? Put them paws on 'er? Call the Better Business Bureau? Or even release the name of her business. Here's the reality, this is an issue that is bigger than me. This is about how we do business and treat one another everyday in our community. I make it a point to support Black owned and small businesses in my area. I believe that abandoning big businesses will be a key component in dismantling classism and racism in America. But we will have a hard time getting there if we continue to treat every customer like family because they look like us. For those of you who don't understand why race was important in this issue, let me give you some clarity. If that black seamstress would've messed up a white woman's dress, she would've been terrified. She would've either not charged her at all for the alterations or at the very least have the alterations done the first time they were scheduled to be. She played me because she thought, like her, I'm powerless. And that issues with her business didn't matter because she would be able to continue to be a slacker in her majority Black neighborhood. I hope this blog reaches her. I hope it reaches other small business owners that take a deep sigh of relief when black customers enter because they don't think they have to take their inquiries as serious. I know that in our hoods sometimes you get the ignorant customers and it makes business difficult, but that's business as usual. As a business owner, you should care about customer service. So if this reaches you sis, next time treat your middle class Black customers the same way you would've treated a wealthy Caucasian woman. I'm on your side.
The Tale of the Seamstress that Bled on My Wedding Dress
By Hybrie Jenae