A well-known entrepreneur and influencer, Vivy Yusof has had much written about her on the internet. As such, there are already plenty of fun facts and titbits about her life, and much inspiration that can be obtained from her journey.
Yet, there is still much more that we can learn about the entrepreneur.
In her business autobiography, The First Decade: My Journey from Blogger to Entrepreneur, which was published in December 2022, we were able to pick up a number of things we didn’t know before reading the book.
Here are seven interestingly lesser-known things about Vivy that you’d be hard-pressed to find elsewhere online.
1. Her startup capital included an RM50,000 loan from her dad, which she paid back along with giving him shares
It’s already public information that Vivy and her partner, Fadza Anuar, started FashionValet with a capital of RM100,000.
Yet, Vivy had not seemed to mention before that her RM50,000 half of that capital was actually a loan from her father.
“We were a couple of 22-year-olds,” Vivy wrote. “Yes, Fadza and I come from comfortable families and our parents are well-off. They were well-off, but we weren’t.”
With little to no savings and no assets to offer, the two believed that no bank was realistically going to fund them. Vivy also said that this was in 2010, and not much funding was available for startups at the time.
So, she went to her dad to borrow some capital.
She and Fadza presented the idea of FashionValet to him. He grilled them about the business plan in return.
At the end of the day, he agreed, but as a chaperone, he would also join as a shareholder with a small stake so FashionValet wasn’t just a “boyfriend–girlfriend company”.
Later on in the book, Vivy also clarified that aside from the shares, she has also paid her father back.
2. FashionValet’s first coffee-table book on fashion was a total flop
While The First Decade has been taking the bestseller spot in various bookstores, the same can’t be said for a past book Vivy worked on.
Called The Rise of Malaysian Designers, the book was published by FashionValet in 2017. The team conducted interviews with twenty designers, and the final draft was carefully copyedited by Vivy.
“This coffee-table book was the first of its kind in Malaysia; no one had ever done a compilation of designers in one place before,” she raved. “We had a larger-than-life mockup of the book on stage and had every designer come up and sign it.”
The book felt like a success. Media publications were picking it up. Vivy was even planning to have a Volume 2.
Yet, on the day of the launch, when Vivy checked the sales, she was shocked, and not in a good way.
The book had only sold twenty copies.
In Vivy’s own words, “We were drinking our own Kool-Aid and never stopped to ask ourselves, ‘How many people would actually buy a coffee-table book about local designers?’”
Thankfully, she learnt her lesson, and such hasn’t been the case with The First Decade.
3. She was going to name her reality show “Sincerely, Vivy”, but Astro didn’t like it
Long-time followers of Vivy Yusof would be aware that she has starred in two seasons of her very own reality TV show, “Love, Vivy”.
But she originally had never intended for it to be called “Love, Vivy”. Instead, she had pitched the show as “Sincerely, Vivy”.
However, Astro thought that “sincerely” was too much of a mouthful and not friendly enough to the mass TV consumers.
Even though Vivy cringed at the idea at first, the title stuck. Astro might’ve been right to go with such an easily memorable name after all.
4. Many brands on FashionValet broke their contracts to work with Zalora
Through the course of her book, Vivy went in depth about FashionValet’s competitor, Zalora.
According to Vivy, whatever consignment rate FashionValet offered, Zalora would offer less.
“Which designer would not want that lucrative offer? Who can blame the designers for switching?” she asked rhetorically.
She saw many designers break their exclusivity clause to join Zalora. Some blatantly used their brand names while others came up with sub-brands as a loophole to work with the other ecommerce site.
But Vivy shared that thanks to the relationships she has built over the years, there were many designers that stayed loyal to her company.
Other than this issue with Zalora, there were also other times where brands would breach their contracts, such as when they did not send in the stocks that they agreed to.
Yet, Vivy chose not to sue them, believing that if they started suing people in the fashion industry, they might as well have just said goodbye to FashionValet.
5. She accidentally signed a petition to remove herself from the Board of Directors of University Teknologi MARA (UiTM)
Vivy is no stranger to controversy, even though it may be completely fabricated.
During the pandemic, she was watching a Facebook Live that was discussing how SMEs should be given some form of help to save them. Finding the talk interesting, she posted it on her social media to raise awareness on the topic.
But in the clip she shared, there was a part where a panelist said something that commenters found contentious. Seeing all the negative remarks, Vivy decided to take down the video.
Although Vivy doesn’t mention it in her book, another reason people were reacting negatively also seemed to be because of a reply comment she made on Instagram, where she had agreed to a friend’s worries of how “the poor will become rich during the pandemic and jobless after”.
In an apology statement she made later, she said her comment was taken out of context and was a poor choice of words.
“Deleting that IGTV post would later become a big mistake,” she wrote. “I became the number one trending issue on Twitter in my entire country. For all the wrong reasons.”
More than being just “cancelled” online, people started an online petition to remove Vivy from the Board of Directors of University Technologi MARA (UiTM).
“The link was shared in so many WhatsApp groups, and people were encouraged to forward emails to their friends,” Vivy recalled. “Ironically, one email was sent to me, and when I clicked on the link to see, a prompt said, ‘Thank you for signing the petition’.”
According to Vivy, this happened because the configuration had been set that when someone clicks on the link, it would automatically be registered as a signature.
“So, there you go, I signed my own petition,” she wrote. “It was a really weird day.”
Although she said the Board originally assured her that the petition was no grounds for removal, Vivy soon received a letter sent by the Minister of Higher Education.
The Minister had terminated Vivy’s tenure, supposedly without any reason, and she was asked to leave the Board.
6. She sold hundreds of what was supposed to be dUCk’s debut scarves on FashionValet, under a different brand name
Most people may know Vivy not just as the founder of FashionValet, but the mind behind dUCk, the modest wear brand known for its scarves.
But did you know that the first-ever batch of dUCk scarves never quite made the cut?
When the first boxes of dUCk products arrived at the FashionValet office, the team was excited. But Vivy felt like something was wrong.
Apparently, she felt like the chiffon scarves did not align with the vision she had for dUCk.
“Nothing was wrong with them, but they didn’t wow me. The scarves looked like they were from any other brand out there—a normal chiffon scarf. That’s it. That’s not dUCk.”
Sticking to her gut, she decided not to go forward with the scarves. But what should she do now with all that stock?
Easy. She sold them on the FashionValet platform under an unknown brand.
“Data told me chiffon scarves sell well, so true enough, they all sold out eventually. It didn’t wow anybody, and no one remembers that brand, but it served the purpose—a simple chiffon scarf. We made back our money. And FashionValet made commission, so phew.”
Perhaps some Malaysians out there might own these “pre-debut” dUCk scarves, but they just don’t know it.
7. After FashionValet’s closure, she transformed the company culture with these six values
After closing down FashionValet, Vivy began to approach the company with a new mindset. She believed it was time to scale, and to do so, the team needed to hire people who could do just that.
She hired an experienced Head of People to transform the culture at FashionValet. One thing that defines that said culture was six values that Vivy revealed in her book:
- Act like an owner
- Be a Sponegbob
- Customer is bae
- Teamwork makes the dream work
- Dare to be different
- Bite on Humble Pie
Of those, one that can be confusing might be the “Sponegbob” one. Essentially, FashionValet hosts “Spongebob sessions” where team members are expected to “soak in knowledge like a sponge”.
According to Vivy, her team uses these values daily in their conversations, in performance reviews, and company activities.
“We even made WhatsApp stickers out of these values with cute illustrations that we use in our daily conversations—highly recommended,” she wrote.
Although the six values might be tailored to reflect the value Vivy is aiming to foster at FashionValet, these are all also virtues that can be practiced in many other workplaces.
If these points were at all insightful to you, perhaps The First Decade would make for an interesting read.
- Learn more about The First Decade: My Journey from Blogger to Entrepreneur here.
- Read other articles we’ve written about Vivy Yusof here.
Featured Image Credit: Vivy Yusof