I first got to know Evie Wong through a list of Instagrammers who do more than just #OOTD. Later I found out that she’s a yoga enthusiast, so I approached her for our #GetFitWithVP column to ask about how she works out regularly and practices healthy eating.
Evie is also the founder and designer of Solmer Swims (SS), a local swimwear label catering to women, who are all for unique designs and unwavering quality. SS was founded two years ago, and the brand collaborated with Astro last year. Occasionally, Evie also models for her own business. I was delighted to be able to e-talk to her and find out more about how she became an entrepreneur.
First off, tell us about your designing journey and how it all began.
Someone gave me the idea to start a label but I was hesitant since it was already so competitive. I was then recommended to do swimwear since at that time, I was diving quite a bit. My forte was in couture so the idea was challenging yet intriguing. I kept thinking about it until I decided to just give it a shot.
What industries were you working in prior to Solmer Swims (SS) and is this your full-time job?
I was (and still am) an emcee. I enjoy my work as a host but art and design is still very close to my heart. I try to find balance between both which almost always works out.
Did you go to any art school or take up any designing certificate as a designer?
I majored in textile and fashion design back in college.
Tell us about the concept behind SS. Which are the bestsellers now?
Starting Solmer Swimwear, I wanted to bring pieces that are edgy, high quality yet affordable. Being a swimwear collector myself, I often had to choose between the RM50 polka-dot floral pieces or the over RM300 bikinis at Roxy.
I always like monotone colours and back then, it was rather hard to find a good plain bikini that has a good fit and price tag to it. So starting this label, I wanted to offer a more sleek and somewhat daring variety. Pieces that look good not only out of the water but in it as well, yet still have a good, secure fit to it.
Were there any sacrifices you had to make along the way?
So far, I don’t really think I need to make major sacrifices for Solmer. Maybe it’s because I truly love what I do and don’t notice the sacrifice at all hahaha.
How has your career as an entrepreneur changed over time?
I’ve definitely improved from when I started but I still have much to learn. It’s a journey I enjoy and I’m very blessed to have so many good friends and family around me to help me when I’m in need.
I don’t come from a business background so some things can be a little tricky for me but I take it all one step at a time with guidance. Hopefully I’ll learn fast it enough to further grow on my own.
What were the obstacles you were faced while starting up SS, and how have you overcome them?
I think one of the earlier obstacles was to try to cater to the mass market. So starting out, I thought my collection was all over the place with no direction. I took in everyone’s advice and try to make it work. Although pieces were sold,
I wasn’t very satisfied looking at what I made so I decided to just follow my own instincts and go my own way. I came to terms with the fact that I can’t expect everyone to love my style as everyone is different. If they love it, that’s
really great, if they don’t then that’s okay too.
The second obstacle would be to find the right sizing for our market. No one person is made alike so I always made sure to fit test pieces before they get produced. So me and my friends would wear them, swim in them, wash them, bend and stretch in them and if they past the test, then it’s a go.
What are the top 3 lies of being in the fashion industry?
1. Having your own label is glamorous.
No it’s not. It’s a labour of love. A lot of people assume that being a designer is glamorous. They see the parties, the runway… they see the fancy bits. But behind all that is the sweat and blood people just don’t see. It’s only glamorous because we show you the pretty side.
2. Being a fashion designer is easy.
Although it isn’t exactly rocket science, but a lot of knowledge is needed. You got to know your cuts, fabrics, stitching, concept, etc. I truly believe that in order to be in this industry, you have to truly love it because there are times when the workload can be so overwhelming you’d feel like giving up.
3. You can make it to the top if you’re talented.
Hardwork beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. So talent is great, but hard work is even better.
What are the 3 top lessons you have learnt from your experiences?
Follow my instincts, take advice but never let it cloud my own judgement and always, ALWAYS give 110% to your customers.
What advice do you have for the girls out there who would like to start their own clothing line?
I’d say work hard at it. Do your research, take your time to figure out what you really want to major in. And when you decide to begin, put your heart into it and keep going!