Surviving HR hell
MILLINER MUSINGS - Mich L. Dulce (The Philippine Star) - January 18, 2013 - 12:00am

There  are grand delusions that the fashion world is all glamour... the rest of the time is just spent working your ass off in the studio at odd hours of the day until you get things right.

My business right now is in an all-too-familiar state: I am in HR hell.

Most people marvel at how amazing it is to be a fashion designer, with grand delusions that the fashion world is all glamour — shoots and shows, traveling the world, meeting people, dressing celebrities, blah-blah-blah. Let me tell you this: while, yes, this does happen about 30 percent of the time, the rest of the time is just spent working your ass off in the studio at odd hours of the day until you get things right. It’s working at your desk and e-mailing for an entire day. It’s sourcing and slaving and drawing and pattern-cutting and sewing. It’s training people to do this with you and investing your time in teaching others. It’s hard work.

It’s not an easy job. In fact, a few years ago I was telling Erwin Romulo and Quark Henares that the two hardest jobs are being a filmmaker and a fashion designer. Why? Because without an amazing team behind you, there’s just no way you can get the job done, no matter how great the vision is in your head.

The first week of January was a horror story for me. First, my studio manager, who I had hired in December, made like a flake, and if there’s one thing any of my interns know from past to present is that I hate flakes. I have zero tolerance for flakes especially when I know that they are educated people who should have enough of a brain to respect and maintain a good work ethic. I’ve had one unbreakable rule for my interns, which is if you say you are coming, you’d better show up. Nothing irks me more than a person who commits then doesn’t show, without a text or a call to warn me that they aren’t coming in. I had to let her go even if I absolutely adored her because she wouldn’t respond to messages on time — if she can do this in the early stages of work, what more towards the end? Then I lost three of my trainees after Christmas — three who did the classic “oh-let-me-pretend-all-is-well-so-I-can-get-my-Christmas-bonus-then-never-show-up-again.”

Last night I went to my friend Cecile van Straten’s house because I needed a good cry, and I knew that she would know exactly what I was feeling, having been there before during her days pre-Chuvaness and pre-Pepper Lunch when she was a fashion designer. I needed a hug from someone who would get it, and I got it, and I felt a million times better just seeing her. It is the most frustrating feeling, to invest and believe in people only to realize that they aren’t in it with you after all.

Is good work ethic just a thing of the past?

I have had my share of gems in my company — the Ava and Kittys, the Leas, the Jaynes, the Goldies, the Marians and the Alonas. But I have had far more of the flakes and unreliables, so it truly makes a job I love really intolerable sometimes. 

I’ve reached a point in my work life where I am really happy, and all is perfect except for one thing: that after years of doing what I do, I am still on a quest for a dream team. I am consoled by the idea that Marjan, my old boss, is also on his quest for a dream team, though on a much bigger level. I guess it’s a never-ending cycle, and just part of the game. I just don’t know how much longer I can keep playing without going insane.

AVA AND KITTYS BUT I CHUVANESS ERWIN ROMULO AND QUARK HENARES GOLDIES JAYNES MARIANS AND THE ALONAS MARJAN PEPPER LUNCH THEN I
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