“I’ve always had two ambitions growing up. One was to be a pilot and the other to be a businessman,” says Wiro.
“The pilot dream didn’t take off, so the other path was the natural and obvious choice.”
Perhaps it was fate that 27-year-old Wiro did not end up become a pilot, because today he is the founder of his own clothing brand.
Although most of his family is in Indonesia, Wiro is a “born and bred” Singaporean.
He has however, always been “in awe of the beauty of batik”.
Batik is part of many cultures, he shares, and its nature allows each one to create unique versions from Javanese to Minang Batik.
Leading up to the May 2016 launch, Wiro had spent 7 months studying the market and preparing his game plan.
“I was very focused on building capital, working long hours and multiple jobs (Deliveroo rider and Uber driver).”
He has been working since 16, and juggled diverse roles from hotel waiter, door-to-door salesman, to F&B coordinator for international events and more.
“I’ve worked with people from all walks of life, races, nationalities and backgrounds,” he says. “In both laborious roles and in those that focus on critical thinking.”
These experiences offered me different lens to overcome my struggles, each in a unique fashion. This served me well in my pursuit to launch Batique.
His early day challenges had to do with concept, he reflects.
“How was I going to modernise batik and make it appealing?”
The problem was not in the Batik design, but in the fashion sense, he realised.
Gentlemen are concerned with wearing tops that complement their physique. As such, our first launch was a men’s collection where every top was batik-styled and fitting.
Raising capital was another challenge, with a initial projection of almost $30,000.
“Given that I am fairly resourceful and prudent, there were many instances I built from scratch in order to save.”
When he finally launched at the Ramadan Geylang Bazaar 2016, his investment was just in excess of $15,000.
A Batik Businessman
All of the clothing sold on Batique is produced by the team of 3.
While Wiro oversees business development and suppliers, his staff manages their online presence and day-to-day operations.
Batique produces all of their own clothing, and although they began as a men’s label, they began launching ladies’ apparel in 2017 along with couple designs.
And the community certainly have been showing their support.
Wiro describes business growth as fantastic, having experienced exponential growth in the first 9 months, and as the growth slowly stabilises, they are well on track to maintain 40% quarter-on-quarter growth.
On his explosive growth spurt, Wiro states that a “fantastic product will always market itself”, but that doesn’t mean you can slow down.
“Online marketing is a must for any B2C,” Wiro emphasises, having spent “a significant amount” on social media.
However, you should never neglect the power of word of mouth marketing as well, he continues.
“Friends who support and advocate your brand will greatly kick start your campaign. I have had numerous referrals from customers, who recommended my products to their friends and family.”
“I have been very blessed with the support of my family and closest friends […] and that drives me to make them proud.”
The general consensus of starting a business is always skepticism. The onus is on me to prove that I am worth their support, [so] I’m not resting on my laurels yet!
Global Dreams Of Batique
Many tie batik to its origin cultures, but Wiro does not intend for Batique to be culture or race-centric.
“It is my goal to change this perception.”
“In Indonesia, the Chinese community wears batik proudly during weddings or functions, and they are willing to pay for good batik.”
“I recently returned from a short trip across Europe, where I studied the market to gauge the potential market for batik as a fast fashion.”
“We will gradually launch a wider variety, and there are plans to break into other countries. Once we are able to execute that, then maybe we can try putting South East Asia (and batik) on the world map with a Europe launch.”
In the meantime, you can keep a lookout for Batique at their upcoming events!
They are the official partner of Singapore Fashion Week 2017 (Oct 25- Oct 31) and will be having a grand sale at CelebFest 2017 as well (Nov 10 – Nov 12).
Featured Image Credit: Wiro