Entrepreneur

At 22, These M'sians Already Run A Successful Fashion Business—Saw 2000% Growth in 4 Years

Bringing you the most affordable without compromising its quality to so that you can shop in confidence—is what BASH strives to provide.

Formed in January 2014, founders Cecilia Ooi and Xin Yu Khor were classmates from Form 4 until the final year of their degree. Both the 22-year-olds recently graduated from Sunway University’s Bachelor of Accounting and Finance. They started BASH on the first day of the degree.

“Back then, online shopping had limited choices and it was very much unaffordable due to the lack of competition,” said Cecilia, who manages the social media channels and parcel packaging.

BASH founders on their graduation day.

The two of them are proudly unashamed of being hardcore shopaholics, which is what motivated them to start up a platform for affordable and trendy clothes for girls just like them.

“From day one, our differentiation point has always been our price.”

“We keep our margin low and maintain the prices within the RM50 range which is something that makes us stand out among other established online stores that price a floral jumpsuit at RM109.90.”

“Also, we maintain a close bond with our customers even after 4 years in business. We ask for their feedback from time to time and even send out survey forms to know what Bash is lacking and what our customers love about Bash.”

Both Cecilia and Xin Yu did not have any work experience prior to BASH but that did not prove to be an issue running their e-commerce platform.

“Xin Yu and I are both commerce students so what we learnt in degree is actually applicable to our business. Besides, it’s good that we started fresh because that way we can learn from experience even if they could be expensive lessons to pay.”

The capital to start was about RM1,000 and it came from their own pockets. For their very first batch, they only had about 1 piece for each design which is why not much capital was needed. The revenue gained from their sales was then plowed back for the next batch.

“We were very lucky because we had a smooth-sailing start. In the first week we launched, we already gained about 300 followers because our close friends helped out in sharing and liking our photos. That was essential to our growth because it created a ‘bang’ and people were talking about BASH.”

Image Credit: BASH

They also managed to gain 10,000 followers on Instagram without any advertising or sponsorship done, a feat to which they are very proud of today.

“We launched our website in 2015. Before that, we were accepting orders through WhatsApp and there were instances when we missed out our customers’ messages. It was very inefficient for us to write down orders one by one and hence, launching the website improved our customer’s shopping experience so much more!”

“Although it did cost us a large sum, it was worth it as we now have proper inventory management and customer database management.”

“From there, we had some ups and downs but we are really thankful for this journey. It has been rewarding and very unique for us personally because it brought us a lot of experience an ordinary person would not have.”

One of the common obstacles they face as an online fashion store is the intense competition. Seeing new online stores pop up everyday on social media, the pressure to differentiate themselves increases everyday.

“More often than not, we also receive reports from customers that our photos have been ‘stolen’ by other sellers for commercial purposes. This is bad for us because a customer may associate our products with theirs and make their purchase based on their trust in us.”

BASH’s Street Style Collection / Image Credit: BASH

Currently they only work on an OEM basis (basically, manufacturers who customise and resell another company’s product under their own name and branding), but are looking into manufacturing their own designs soon.

“We do not limit ourselves to what we sell. Initially, I would say we preferred a more feminine style but right now, we saw a trend in street style clothing so we are also moving towards that.”

They take pride in maintaining a very aesthetic feed and create interactive contents for their followers to enjoy on a daily basis. They especially put the InstaStory feature to good use, posting content daily to attract more followers.

Before 2016, they were more focused on making flatlays because they found a trend of their followers liking those photos.

Now in 2017, they have started doing paid promotions (boost) with Instagram and Facebook since it was introduced.

“We have grown tremendously since our first year. 2017 is the year we finally graduated so we scaled up the business since we can do it full time now without worrying about our academic results. We are looking at a 2000% growth from 2014 for clothing, customers, revenue and profit.”

When asked why they chose to launch in an already saturated market, Cecilia replied:

“There may be many online clothing stores right now in the market. But 4 years ago when we started, it was definitely way less competitive especially in the 15–22 year old range, teenage to young adult market. So we decided to focus on this target market and provide them affordable AND the most trendy clothes.”

“Apart from that, we always believe in our motto, that, ‘We don’t sell clothes we won’t wear’.”

Feature Image Credit: BASH

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