This article series is in conjunction with Entrepreneurial Nation (E-Nation) Symposium, a 4-day event at MaGIC with the theme “Shaping An Entrepreneurial Nation”. The event will cut across 6 main pillars (Creative, Corporate Innovation, Education, Entrepreneurship, Policy and Social Entrepreneurship), with the objectives to:
1) bridge ecosystem players together to exchange ideas, promote collaboration and foster networking opportunities;
2) highlight recent entrepreneurial initiatives;
3) gather influential entrepreneurs and speakers to share rich knowledge and information to attendees;
4) promote the concept of social innovation and social responsibility to encourage the adoption and understanding of the conscious entrepreneurship concept.
This article is in line with the Entrepreneurship pillar.
She shared the story of her entrepreneurial journey, and here’s what stood out to us and gave us a metaphorical kick off our laurels.
1. She was already an entrepreneur at 7.
When Vivy was 7 years old, she would make bracelets behind her desk while everyone else was paying attention to the teacher in class.
These bracelets would be samples that she would then show her friends before making them take custom orders.
“This became way more interesting than school itself, and I paid less attention to class,” Vivy recalled, “But no one could scold me, because I was a good student.”
2. She was more than just a Straight-A student.
Despite her interest in entrepreneurship, Vivy still managed to get straight A’s in class, even for her UPSR, PMR, and SPM.
She knew that she wanted to take A-Levels, but there was a problem. She took issue with the huge 9-month gap in between SPM and A-Levels.
Because she dreaded the thought of doing nothing during the gap, she negotiated with, and convinced, her high school in KL and her college in the UK to let her do both simultaneously.
“I promised them that if I got bad results, they could kick me out,” Vivy shared. With that promise in mind, she studied hard and got straight A’s for both exams.
3. Seeing an opportunity, she ran towards it head-on.
Based on a concept they learned from websites like ASOS and Net-a-Porter, Vivy started FashionValet with her then-friend, now-husband, Fadzarudin Shah Anuar, in 2010.
“We saw a gap in the online shopping industry in Malaysia, we knew that local designers were scattered all around and they didn’t have enough reach. We saw the opportunity of a ready pool of customers via my personal blog that I started writing in 2007,” Vivy said.
So, they started out with a shared capital of RM100,000.
4. Give her a timeline, and she’ll accelerate it.
To begin their business, they simply Googled “how to start an online shopping website” and called the first company they found.
“They told us they will have the site ready in 6 months. Naturally, I told them, ‘You will do it in 1 month,’” Vivy shared, describing herself as “stubborn, determined, and very impatient”.
And the company actually completed it on time, thanks to Vivy calling them every single day.
She also recalled how she was persistent in marrying Fadzarudin.
“He told me, ‘Let’s get married in 2 years’. So, naturally, again, I told him, ‘You will marry me this year’. And he did. Today we have 3 beautiful children together: Daniel, Mariam, and Sarah,” she proudly shared.
And yes, they are very happily married, she revealed.
5. Criticism and challenges? That’s part of the job.
Vivy admitted that her entrepreneurial journey was filled to the brim with challenges. In 2012, ZALORA’s entrance into the Malaysian market was a threat to FashionValet.
In 2013, there was a time when she didn’t have enough money in the bank to pay salaries. FashionValet’s website went down for a week in 2014 due to a failed migration.
There was also a moment in 2015 when they couldn’t get any funding.
“Worse, I am in the public eye. So, every mistake we did, every order sent late was amplified on social media, punishing me as a bad entrepreneur,” Vivy said.
“As much as I am celebrated as a young woman entrepreneur in Malaysia, I am also the first to take a social media hit and public scrutiny when something goes wrong.”
Despite all that, she’s still kept going, and FashionValet now has an international presence, shipping to 40 to 50 countries daily.
6. She believes in one constant: change.
“Something I feel every entrepreneur should do is review your business model every once in a while, especially when things just aren’t working the way you want them to,” Vivy stated.
Taking FashionValet as an example, she admitted that, despite its success as a local fashion hub carrying other brands, it was difficult to scale since they weren’t in control of their own stock.
“We tweaked our business model several times until we found one that really works for us. Today, FashionValet finally found its niche in modest fashion,” she said.
7. She’s still unsatisfied with her progress.
Even with FashionValet’s impressive growth over the years, Vivy said, “Deep down, I know the 7-year-old me isn’t impressed yet, because an entrepreneur’s journey never ends. Being who we are, we will always be working for more, pushing boundaries, shattering glass ceilings.”
Before she ended her talk, she imparted some inspirational words to the crowd:
“Whatever business you’re in, whatever challenges you’re facing right now, whatever it is that keeps you up at night, just remember that you got this.”
“Ask questions, self-reflect, remember that everything has a solution. The most important thing is that you never lose spirit, and you never forget to enjoy the rollercoaster ride to success.”
- You can read more on what we’ve written about MaGIC here.