Today’s interview features Michael Tang, the owner of Threads Fashion Alterations here in Vancouver, BC. He’s a father, a husband, and a nearly lifelong business owner and entrepreneur. Michael is a very talented tailor I have known for a while, and I recently worked up the courage to ask him a little bit more about himself and his business while in his shop one day. The next thing I knew we were getting coffee and I got to learn all about this wonderful human being whom I admire greatly, and I think we all stand to learn a lot from his approach in business and life!
On How He Came Back from Working in a Way that Made him Miserable
“Before my daughter came along, I was very hardworking”, he said of the years he spent training to be a tailor—so early that he already has more than 20 years of professional experience despite being in his mid-thirties. “Working hard was a big deal to me before,” he said, and so was pleasing his clients, but it led him to a hectic schedule and a lot of personal exhaustion, so things had to change when his child was born and his priorities changed.
“It slowly dawned on me that I needed to say no,” he said of the period between having his daughter and finding a balance he could live with. That came with the risk of losing clients, but that may not have been such a risk after all.
On Why Losing Clients Isn’t Always a Bad Thing
“I don’t see them anymore” He says of the clients who used to make him part of their emergencies back when he would do anything for a client. He experienced very entitled behavior from his clients, including people who would demand alterations with only a couple days to spare. And yet, his business hasn’t suffered for setting stricter boundaries. “A two-year old daughter trumps any excuse anyone else gives me”, he says of the people who try to twist his arm into taking on extra work.
On Why He Values Transparency
Mike is a refreshingly transparent guy, but it’s not just because of who he is. Being a tailor forced him to understand the importance of laying out expectations first before starting a relationship. “I lay out the expectations before I put in time consulting with clients, now” he says after sharing some stories of spending hours with clients only to see them balk at the price at the end.
On How He Has Come to Define Success
“Success can be measured in so many ways, and everybody has their own definition of success”, he says of the attitude that defines him these days. He still sees his work as important, but it now is only a means to an end that can’t stop him from “Since she came around, I felt like my calling was to be the best dad I could be.” He said, “The responsibilities I really enjoy are the ones I have at home with my daughter.”