- Petite Asian women do not suit many conventional sexy lingerie out there, which is the niche that Jujumello tried to enter.
- They started out with only an RM300 startup fund, and no idea how to run a business.
- But they were able to find a strategic partnership, and now sells up to 250 packages a month.
“As a true blue Asian woman with a petite frame, it is always frustrating when going on a search for lingerie which looks both sexy on the advertised model and on your body,” lamented Mel Chai, founder of Jujumello.
“The trickier part is the cutting and fit of the garments as Asian women have relatively smaller body frames and ‘assets‘.”
This was all the impetus that she needed to launch a lingerie brand in conservative Malaysia, along two other friends, Joyce and Herne (who has since left the company) to complete the founding team.
Together, they launched a lingerie line that shies away from those typical ‘assets’, and instead focuses on the the waistline and legs instead of the bust area.
And they were able to do so with less than RM300 startup fund.
“You can easily start a business with less than RM100,” said Mel.
This was possible because they started out white labeling designs that they had handpicked, so the fund mostly went into a web domain, hosting, an e-commerce platform, and product and parcel packaging fees.
They also started out with no inventory, only asking for pre-orders of their products before ordering them, to help save cost.
Back then the brand was named Big Girls Lingerie, which Mel admitted sounded like a porn site.
“Turns out it really is, if you Google it,” she said with a laugh.
The brand was renamed Jujumello and the team jumped into the lingerie business with no business know-how.
“It was pretty rocky,” said Mel. “It was all based on intuition and drive. And it’s taking one step at a time and making every little decision as if they were huge.”
But good luck would strike them prior to the launch of their first designed collection, because Jujumello was able to secure a partnership with 50gram, a florist delivery online delivery service.
“It captured a good traction of male purchasers alongside a Valentine’s Day video put together. Our followers and subscribers list are growing rapidly,” said Mel.
This was perhaps also because of Jujumello’s other drive—to provide what they call an affordable luxury.
Being online definitely helped them keep prices lower, though they can be a tad flexible on quality.
“We’ve got to put it out there, the flirty and fun stuff doesn’t use the most prime fabric because they don’t have to be! It’s meant to be worn and torn, if you get what I mean.”
Instead, they put in more care into the daily wear garments, where Jujumello will choose fabrics that are of higher grade. Jujumello thinks that they are equal to, or better than other local vendors.
Banking on this good start, Jujumello worked to retain engagement through meetings, WhatsApp, personalised notes in their parcels, and doing everything they can to let customers know that there are real, empathetic people behind the lingerie.
“Let them feel they know you personally and you genuinely care and not just taking money out of their pocket. I think this is applicable to every B2C startup.”
Their slapdash beginnings also slowly made way for a more focused company, when Jujumello finally revisited their core values and tone to set their company’s messages in stone.
Then, one of their co-founders left at the end of last year.
She handled digital marketing, which left a huge handicap that Jujumello needed to fill.
“It was like losing a limb in an e-commerce body. Resorting to an agency seemed like the best way and so we did. Turned out we made a loss from the campaigns run.”
By this point, they were still running the business based on their personal savings, so money was tight.
They ran out of money thanks to that, so Mel had to pick up the brunt of it, taking free lessons online and learning from a knowledgeable friend.
“We started running our first Facebook campaign after studying for a month and it turned out pretty successful!” she reported.
They’ve gone back to outsourcing these efforts, though this time to a freelance specialist.
Despite rocky waters in their first 6 months, Jujumello has been achieving an average of 40–50 thousand ringgit in revenue each month, with a steady 10% month-on-month growth.
They are now shipping between 200–250 parcels a month to both Malaysia and Singapore.
Jujumello owes this to a survey of their customers’ interests.
They used to have a pretty sizeable amount of excess inventory, which had to be let go in a clearance sale. This happened for months, so Jujumello changed gears.
“We had to narrow down from twelve sizes to focusing on only the four main sizes for a bra,” said Mel.
Their successful tactic was to let their customers have a first-hand preview of their upcoming collections prior to their release. This helped them gauge responses, and ensure that their inventory is kept low by axing less popular designs and sizes.
This model has helped them keep the business more sustainable, and helped them plan their products better.
Jujumello currently considers the “oversized” Asians as a smaller market, but there has been a push on their social media channels to consider adding it to their repertoire.
But a more concrete plan is to get a showroom and retail space somewhere in KL. They hope to get this up in later months of 2019, and hopefully one in Singapore by the end of the year.
- You can check out Jujumello’s collection in their online shop here.