Zimbabwe Fashion Week kicks off this Thursday. However, amidst the frenzy of fashion week, has been a different frenzy, that of negative publicity and statements regarding the credibility of the event. The founder of Zimbabwe Fashion Week, an ex-fashon model herself, was accused of starving models, not paying her third party vendors, among other claims.
Ladybrille has been a long time supporter of Zimbabwe Fashion Week. Accordingly, we reached out for a press statement from the event organizer. Priscilla Chigariro-Gessen, founder of Zimbabwe Fashion Week, sent a statement to Ladybrille and also granted a podcast radio interview where she alleged that Jennifer(Jen) Deiner founder of Group of Creatives was responsible for all the negative statements about Zimbabwe Fashion Week. Ladybrille has also been a long time supporter of Jen Deiner through Simon Deiner who is also involved in Jen’s Group of Creatives and is a renowned African fashion photographer.
Ladybrille also reached out to Jen Deiner and below is what Jen had to say about the dispute:
“…I’ve read this exact (statement) before, and it’s certainly far from the truth.
The short version is that Priscilla, the organiser of ZFW, has a history of not paying suppliers and Simon and I went there in good faith to produce a second year. By a far margin considered the best event in their history – it broke my team (and Simon, who for what it’s worth still pulled us all through even despite the hell he endured) by the treatment received.They only were not interested in rehiring GRP/cr8/ when I insisted things like threatening other suppliers (eg. physical threats against the 80 year old woman who owned the tent) and actually paying the bill were to be done. High-speed answers below address most of the factually incorrect statements in the mail you forwarded.
We wish them the best of luck. But designers, suppliers and their own industry have distanced themselves from Priscilla. I’d like to think that my, and Simon’s reputation and expertise in the industry on the continent speaks for itself. We’re passionate about raising the standards of the events and industry, and whilst we regret having crossed paths with Priscilla, are still proud of those events in ZFW…” – Jen Deiner
Ms. Uduak Fashion Law & Business Tips to Avoid Disputes Like these
For all of our Ladybrille business community, and especially our fashion business owners, these kinds of controversies can and should be diffused and/or all together avoided. Here are a few things to note when you will produce a fashion event and/or hire a third party to help you produce your event.
- Get a lawyer in your local city/state/or country, first. This is a very important task. For Ladybrille African readers on the continent, lawyers abound. You just need to engage them. If you cannot afford a lawyer, there are many legal non-profit organizations on the continent and in the West (USA) that can assist you at no cost or very minimal cost. Worse case scenario, watch You Tube videos to hear what lawyers have to say about the pitfalls to avoid when doing business or contracting services from others.
- Have your fashion or business lawyer draft the proper legal contracts that will govern your relationship with all the third parties you intend to enlist to help you produce your event. A handshake or mutual understanding is not enough, especially where a dispute occurs, as they typically do with event production.
- Understand the bigger vision for your event, create the blue print, identify who you want to help you produce it, screen and use both word of mouth referrals and agencies to find the right fit/persons that will help you produce your event. Be sure to get out of the way of these professionals once you hire them so they can get the job you hired them to do, done.
- Where there is a dispute, try to manage the relationship well. This does not include social media or online postings. Sharing information about people you have a dispute with online is generally a bad idea and bad business practice. It also could create legal liability for you, including actions for defamation. You should consult your attorney before you share information about your dispute online.
- Hopefully your business dispute doesn’t get out of control. However, before it does, do get a fashion or business lawyer involved so they can prevent it. If the dispute gets out of control, you will still need a lawyer to help put out the fires.
- If you are the one hired to help produce an event, you too want to do the exact same steps shared above. You need to protect yourself and your reputation as well. A handshake or mutual understanding is not enough. There are many moving parts where a fashion production is concerned. There are several amendments to an initially agreed verbal contract and things always get lost in translation. So, protect yourself as well.
I wish both camps better dealings with future clients and lessons learnt from this experience.
Ms. Uduak Oduok is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Ladybrille® Magazine. She is also an Attorney and Partner at Ebitu Law Group, P.C, (ebitulawgrp.com) where her practice areas include Business Litigation and Fashion & Entertainment Law. She can be reached at ([email protected]) to share/pitch your Africa Fashion Law™ related stories.
DISCLAIMER: Nothing herein forms an attorney-client relationship. The legal commentary provided is for informational purposes only and is not meant nor should be construed to be legal advice.
Ms. Uduak is best known as an advocate who uses the tools of media and the law to help creatives and businesses clearly articulate their true brand identities, and communicate it to the world through their products and services, to maximize profits. She is a lawyer, speaker, author, journalist, and recognized thought leader, and trailblazer for her work on Africa’s emerging global fashion and entertainment markets, and the niche practice of fashion law in the United States. She is also the founder and publisher of Ladybrille® Magazine, and an Attorney and Partner at Ebitu Law Group, P.C, where her practice focuses on Fashion, Business, & Entertainment Law and Trials. For more information about her, visit www.msuduak.com.