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Bad news: Their dropshipping biz died. Good news: They discovered this profitable idea.

[Written in partnership with Nylon Belt, but the editorial team had full control over the content.]

Seasoned travelers are well aware of what the woes are when it comes to preparing for a trip, and for this Melakan, an issue with an everyday accessory became a business idea.

Removing belts at the airport had always been a hassle for John, but when he took a trip to Russia once, that hassle doubled as he was required to remove his belt in malls and even parks for security reasons. 

“I experienced at least 5 security checks every day, and it’s very inconvenient when you have a metal belt,” John, founder of Nylon Belt, shared with Vulcan Post. 

Of course, this wasn’t enough to stop him from wearing belts, but he wanted a better solution for his travels. So, he turned to nylon belts.

For the more practical crowd

Prior to Nylon Belt, John ran a dropshipping business on Facebook selling all kinds of products (mostly hardware), but it didn’t last long. 

Facebook didn’t ban their business activity, but limited their daily maximum spending limit. This is a restriction faced by non-US citizens when dropshipping on the site, which makes it a less lucrative option for people like John.

Seeing how unsustainable the dropshipping business was, John decided to pivot to create an original brand, Nylon Belt, selling exactly what’s in the name—nylon belts—in 2017.

Nylon belts are versatile thanks to their durability, making them a practical go-to for those who are actively travelling or doing outdoor activities.

Practicality over vanity / Image Credit: Nylon Belt

The material enables you to throw the belt in the wash when it gets dirty, and there are no finicky holes that you have to fit the clasp prong into, or take it out of. As a frequent traveller, these belts were the answer to John’s problem.

They hold an advantage for those who are plus-sized too, since the clasp can be tightened anywhere along the length of the belt due to the lack of punched holes.

To clarify, nylon belts were by no means invented by John. A simple search on Google can lead you to a variety of sellers on Shopee and Lazada who get their nylon belts stock from China. 

John gets the raw materials from China, but assembly for the nylon belts is done in their Melakan warehouse. This likely gives the team better control over the quality of the completed product, and they’re able to offer an unlimited warranty on the belts too.

Their belts retail from between RM49.98 to RM64.98, much higher prices than what you can find on Shopee, where nylon belts can retail for just RM3.60, though the materials used and end quality may differ.

The team behind the brand / Image Credit: Nylon Belt

Focusing on an overseas market

From pictures alone, you likely can tell that nylon belts don’t serve vanity purposes, hence why the women’s section in Nylon Belt’s website lacks designs.

The team caters more to men, but not quite within Malaysia. John clarified that the bulk of their sales actually come from the US, which sees higher demand for nylon belts.

In the US, there are already several brands producing nylon belts like Rogue Fitness and GRIP6. This puts the Nylon Belt team in direct competition with them, but the team is able to cut down its disadvantages through fulfilment centres.

They’ve got centres in the US, Australia, and Asia, meaning that despite the HQ being in Melaka, they can still deliver the belts in a timely manner to customers in faraway regions, so long as the centres are kept stocked.

One of the trips that contributed to the start of the business / Image Credit: Nylon Belt

John disclosed to Vulcan Post that by now, they’ve earned more than US$500K and are still making a decent profit. At one point in 2019, they were making US$30K in revenue per day, but since the pandemic, that number has dwindled.

This could be due to the fact that pandemic lockdowns have reduced the frequency of travelling and outdoor activities, so potential customers aren’t seeing a nylon belt purchase as a necessity just yet.

Nonetheless, the team isn’t discouraged. The next plan for the business is to further expand to the US with an office and a warehouse. While there’s lots of competition, perhaps the market is still big enough for another player, and that’s what John hopes to capitalise on.

  • You can learn more about Nylon Belt here
  • You can read more about other Malaysian startups we’ve covered here.

Featured Image Credit: John Tan, founder of Nylon Belt

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