Being an over packer, Yoyo Zheng always loved to use tote bags because they’re so roomy.
But over the years of using tote bags, she could never find the perfect tote — one that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing — to fit her needs.
Totes with pretty designs were all over the market, but most of them were usually flimsy and had no pockets. On the other hand, functional totes usually had boring or utilitarian designs, which did not match Yoyo’s style at all.
Yoyo recalls looking up “cute and functional tote bags” on Google, only to be disappointed by the search results.
Fed up with the quality of tote bags in the market, Yoyo decided to take matters in her own hands and launched Good Totes to create her own bags.
Right after graduating from the National University of Singapore (NUS), Yoyo found it hard to stick to one job.
She hopped between jobs for around a year, unhappy with what she was doing. She finally decided to call it quits in July 2021 and invested a small four-figure sum to start up Good Totes. She was joined by her boyfriend, Daniel Yap, who is currently finishing up his last semester in NUS.
As cheesy as it sounds, I wanted more passion in my life, so I decided to quit cold turkey and work on Good Totes full time. It was really terrifying in the beginning, but I’m so glad I took the leap of faith. – Yoyo Zheng, co-founder of Good Totes
As cheesy as it sounds, I wanted more passion in my life, so I decided to quit cold turkey and work on Good Totes full time. It was really terrifying in the beginning, but I’m so glad I took the leap of faith.
Being avid TikTok users at that time, the 26-year-old couple realised that the platform could potentially boost the sales and increase the brand awareness of Good Totes.
They begun promoting the brand on TikTok, even before its official launch. By a stroke of luck, Good Totes’ very first TikTok video went viral, raking in over a million views as of writing, which grew the waitlist for its debut collection to over 3,000 people.
Good Totes’ first product was its Going Places Tote, a minimalistic tote with multiple pockets to keep essentials organised with a “Pinterest-like” aesthetic. The bag is waterproof-coated and has a thicker strap, making it more durable than a regular tote bag.
Given the popularity of the brand on TikTok, it’s no surprise that the tote bag sold out within just five minutes of its initial release, causing the brand to break even on the first day of its launch. The couple even had to open backorders to keep up with the high demand.
Its popularity on the platform also caught the attention of international fans — they have received orders from all around the world, including the United States, Europe and the Middle East. In fact, international orders make up about 60 per cent of its sales.
“We’ve even had customers all the way from the Caribbean countries. Imagine how surprised we were when we received an order from Trinidad and Tobago!” she exclaimed.
While its international popularity might seem like a huge milestone for Good Totes, both Yoyo and Daniel were both struggling during this period as they did not expect the high volume of international orders.
Being first-time business owners, they pretty much had to learn everything on the go, such as dealing with logistics issues.
At first, the company only offered a flat fee of S$30 for international shipping, and every single international address had to be manually inputted before being shipped out.
Not being able to keep up with the volume of orders, the founders scrambled to look for alternative shipping methods. However, as the brand was launched during the pandemic, Yoyo and Daniel had to deal with increased global shipping costs and unpredictable production timelines during that time.
It was a rather stressful period for us as we tried to come up with a solution as quick as we could. On top of high cart abandonment rates, we also received complaints almost every day regarding high import taxes or delayed parcels.– Yoyo Zheng, co-founder of Good Totes
It was a rather stressful period for us as we tried to come up with a solution as quick as we could. On top of high cart abandonment rates, we also received complaints almost every day regarding high import taxes or delayed parcels.
This prompted them to start working with a fulfilment warehouse in the United States in April 2022 to provide a cheaper and faster shipping for its international fans outside of APAC.
In Singapore, both Yoyo and Daniel have always dreamed of starting up a physical space for Good Totes for their customers to be able to touch and view their bags in person.
In December 2021, they rolled out their first pop-up store, which was a huge hit among the brand’s local fans. “We had a snaking queue for our booth, and it was so surreal. We’re very grateful for our customers who waited under the heat,” said Yoyo.
However, the couple wanted something more permanent as opposed to pop-up stores, and this led to the opening of a physical retail store at North Bridge Road in January this year.
Looking forward, Yoyo hopes to strengthen its presence in the United States by doing similar pop-up stores in the country, as well as expand Good Totes’ range of products.
In addition to this, the brand is also working towards sustainability by using more eco-friendly materials such as recycled nylon, and minimising waste in its production process.
Featured Image Credit: Good Totes
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