Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 25th 2015 Contents Fashion trends were fickle and tended
to change rapidly so Petra was always
reading magazines and attending fash-
ion shows to keep abreast of the latest
styles that were in demand.
Recently, she had noticed that con-
sumers had become more discerning
and were willing to spend a little more
money for higher quality items. This
had partly been prompted by the desire
of working women to distance them-
selves from the cheap knock-off fashion
products imported from China that had
started flooding the market.
In addition to selling directly to cus-
tomers at its retail outlet, the company
also supplied bags to a number of retail-
ers throughout the country and had
developed a reputation for timely deliv-
ery at reasonable prices. Retailers were
also supplied with a brochure outlining
the best way to display the company s
Petra initially developed the designs
for all the bags and outsourced their
production to suppliers in China. She
relied on the extensive network she had
developed as a sales manager to identify
several potential suppliers who she felt
could produce the level of quality she
wanted for her products.
Getting all the suppliers to adhere to
the same quality standards and main-
taining a consistent aesthetic for the
company s products had proven to be
an ongoing challenge and occasionally
she received batches of defective items.
She usually tried to address this issue
on her annual visit to China to meet
with her suppliers.
The only way to detect defective
products was to carefully inspect each
item that arrived at the warehouse but
Petra no longer had the time to do this
herself due to the rapid growth of the
Instead, she had started relying on
Jim Hoak, the warehouse manager, to
conduct spot checks of a random sam-
ple of bags but this system was clearly
not effective judging from the problem
she now faced.
After speaking with the irate client,
she had discussed the issue with Jim
but his response was that unless he got
more staff to check the items he could
not guarantee that the problem would
not reoccur in the future. Petra had
come away from that meeting with a
strong sense that Jim did not feel that
quality control was part of his core
responsibility and was thus not taking
the matter as seriously as he should.
Due to the rapid growth of the busi-
ness, Petra hired a professional designer
to assist her in developing new products.
Mary Singh had joined the company
after working at a small American fash-
ion house and developing several col-
lections that had attracted favorable
responses by the critics. While this col-
laboration had yielded several product
designs that were very popular with
customers, the two women did not
always agree on the style of bag to pro-
Mary tended to generate innovative
and creative design ideas while Petra
had more conservative tastes.
In addition to designing the bags
Petra managed relationships with sup-
pliers and retailers for the company s
products as well as maintained the
A clerical assistant and two ware-
house packers were the only other staff
employed by the business. An intern
from the university was sometimes
hired for a few months to assist with
filing and other office duties when there
was a backlog that needed to be cleared.
Petra felt that her hands-on approach
to the business helped her to understand
what was happening at any given
moment within the business and
allowed her to make better business
Petra had witnessed the rapid growth
of the business with great pride and
was already planning strategies to
encourage more retailers to stock the
company s products. Her dream of
designing and importing handbags from
China that looked luxurious but did
not cost a lot to manufacture seemed
to be a success.
She was fully aware, however, that
if she started losing clients due to erratic
product quality, her plans for expansion
would never be realised. She needed to
address this issue as a matter of urgency
before negative word-of-mouth from
dissatisfied clients destroyed the dream
that she had worked so hard to make
1. What factors have
contributed to the current
problems at Access
2. Is Petra a successful
entrepreneur? If so, what
has accounted for this?
3. What strategies should
Petra pursue in order to
grow the business?
Dr Barney Pacheco is a lecturer in
the Department of Management
Studies at The University of the West
Indies, St Augustine campus.
SUNDAY BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt JANUARY 25 • 2015
As Petra Jones
ball club lose
encounter to their cross city rival,
she couldn t help thinking that this
was a fitting end to a tough day.
She reflected on the phone call she
had received that afternoon from
one of her main clients complain-
ing bitterly about the quality of
the products in his last order. He
indicated that not only was he
sending back the defective items
but he was putting a hold on future
orders while he "reassessed the
nature of their business relation-
Although he had not directly
threatened to take his business
elsewhere, Petra sensed that this
was likely to happen if she did not
ensure that the quality of the
handbags she sold was of consis-
tently high quality. She knew that
the business could not afford to
lose this client and wondered about
the best way to handle the current
Access Styles began as an idea
that Petra Jones developed while
working as a sales manager at a
popular shoe store in the country.
One of her main responsibilities
was arranging for the importation
of shoes and belts from China and
this experience led her to believe
that there was an untapped market
for other accessories that could
create a complete outfit.
In 2003, she quit her job and
started to import handbags and
ties to be sold in a small retail space
that she rented in the mall. The
success of that venture led her to
register her own company Access
Styles later that same year.
The business idea was to import
items that looked luxurious but
could be sold at a more affordable
price than the designer name
brands. She subsequently decided
to focus exclusively on selling
handbags since the demand for
ties was much lower than she ini-
The primary customers were
working female professionals who
used their bags to complement
their outfits and make a fashion
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Case Study: Access styles
Importance of quality control
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