Like Ray, Whimsigirl is one of the households where Malaysians would buy festive pieces, or, any other day, and comfortable everyday wear.
The woman behind the brand, Syazana Sukiman, started from the beginning with tailoring and design career after coming from an architectural background.
Embedding Whimsigirl in a large, domestic brand that is today a journey that cost her many costly mistakes, she previously revealed in an article with A star.
Curious about what she had learned, we turned to Syazani and she shared some tips that might be useful to (future) founders of local fashion microbrands in hopes of becoming great.
Before she started Whimsigirl, Syazana was an unemployed bride who simply studied at home.
“I had all that free time, I could use them well. I had all this [designs] and vintage fabrics that I collected over the years, so I bought a sewing machine for my birthday, bought books and learned to sew, ”she shared.
She made products for friends and family, and gradually orders began to arrive. Although she realized this, she subconsciously researched the market and tested the viability of her products.
“I followed the demand and listened to the audience. Your products are only valid when needed [them]. You may think you have a great product, but you need a paying customer to make it valid, ”she advised.
Not the first repetition of work
The Whimsigirl we know today has come a long way since its beginnings. Back then, Syazana was making clothes for children, which later attracted the attention and demand of their parents who also wanted similar comfortable clothes.
She started the company by bootstrapping, but took a small loan from MyCreative Ventures because it started to grow as a brand of children’s clothing. In the same article, The Star mentioned that she set out on it without a proper business plan or financial strategy.
So in these early years the brand made costly mistakes:
1. He entered a market he knew little about.
As a children’s clothing brand, Whimsigirl has decided to enter the European and American markets without fully understanding their complexity and the way wholesale customers work there.
“[We] spent quite a bit of time and money with little result in the end, ”Syazana recalled, but added,“ We quickly realized that [the] The B2B / wholesale model is not what we wanted and it has been redirected to the DTC model. “
Dictionary of dictionaries: DTC stands for Direct-to-Consumer and is a business model that does not employ intermediaries.
Looking back on the experience, she thought, “We definitely needed to research and seek guidance from more experienced entrepreneurs, but back then our network was limited and we definitely didn’t know any better.”
“I don’t think more money could have solved the problem; it was more of a situation where we did not fully understand the intimate details of the market we were trying to occupy. “
2. Did not analyze customer data.
As for inventory management, the team had no guidelines or data to work with. This meant that they would occasionally produce either too little or too much.
“It took a while to find that sweet spot because we had to learn the purchasing power of our customers and build data from scratch,” Syazana said.
3. It was too risk averse with its products.
“We were so focused and dead-ready to produce just one kind of thing. I believe that for us it was a mistake and a moment of learning, “said Syazana.
“That decision came out of fear too much like,‘ Do we have the resources to explore different product verticals, if things don’t go well, will it affect us, are we experienced enough, are we financially, emotionally and physically equipped? “.
Then they realized that they were simply thinking, self-sabotaging and pronouncing themselves. It is something they have now overcome. Instead, Whimsigirl has learned to be more strategic and open to recalculating risk.
Lessons learned from mistakes made
“We almost went back to the beginning with the mistakes we made with the money,” Syazana admitted as she recounted Whimsigirl’s journey.
Not only did they not sell, but they also burned cash reserves. At the same time, the already small team lost key staff.
“By chance, I had another son at the time, so we decided to take a few months off from work and we really reflected on what we wanted to achieve as a job and redefined our goals and values,” Syazana recalled.
After their free time, they decided to focus more on designing for women and relaunch the brand – bringing us to Whimsigirl as we know it today. They have been profitable ever since, Syazana proudly shared.
Despite everything, she maintains a positive view of these past mistakes. “At the end of the day, no matter how expensive it is, I appreciate all the mistakes we made. We are better entrepreneurs for that. “
“They have now become tools to help us better manage crises. I am sure we will make more mistakes in the future, but we will solve them with our heads, one crisis at a time. “
One such example was during Hari Ray in 2020, when they were fast enough to shift part of their production and delivery schedule. With this they managed to withstand the storm. They also made sure to re-adjust and reduce last year’s targets, but overall they still achieved a good year in their records.
Tips backed by experience
“Most designers may be too attached to their art, which is important, but this is holding them back [in seeing] how their decisions affect the business, ”she shared.
“You have to be clear that some decisions are made out of passion, and some for work. Know the advantages and disadvantages of each of them and try to get the best out of both, if you can, ”Syazana advised.
And of course, take smarter risks. Syazana does so and, fortunately, adds, “We are able to experiment a little more as the company stabilizes. Our thought process is now to test many different things on a smaller scale and see what we should put our focus on. “
“It’s okay to make mistakes as long as we learn and grow from them.”
Credits for featured paintings: Syazana Sukiman, founder of Whimsigirl