Hi! I’ve never visited Korea but I definitely would like to one day – I see it as a vibrant, colourful and inspiring place!
What is your background story before running a company? Any career path? Major?
I completed my university degree in Journalism before spending some time living and travelling in the UK and Europe. I returned to Australia to have my daughter (she’s now 4) and it was about a year after she was born that I started Frock You. I did a Small Business Management Course bfore starting the business, and also ran an eBay store to get some experience with online selling, before launching my own website.
Please tell readers a bit about history of your company? What’s the concept of your company that you are trying to show to Visitors? And why did you start your own business? I understand that it might be really difficult to run business after pregnant, and so busy to take care of your daughter, Charlotte, she is so cute : )
Haha thanks! It’s definitely busy, but by running my own business I have a more flexible schedule so I can make being a Mum my first priority. I am always working early mornings and late nights in order to get everything done, but I like being busy!
Frock You is an online store designed to target people with an interest in fashion, but maybe not the budget to buy high-end or designer clothes. Most of our items sell for under $150 so it’s easy to pick up the latest look without breaking your budget. It’s also one of the few stores where you can purchase ladies and kid’s clothing in the same store – I buy online all the time for myself and Charlotte, and so many customers have commented on loving the convenience of being able to buy clothes for their kids and themselves in the one shop!
and one thing that I am curious is that how did you contact all the brands into your website? At first, there might be difficult to persuade designers or CEO of fashion brands to offer their clothes to your company at wholesale price.
As part of my Small Business Management Course, I had written a complete Business Plan, which covered everything from marketing to finances; and I used this as a basis for projecting my concept for the store to different brands. Most were more than happy to come onboard, and I found that by fully explaining to them who I was and what I wanted to do they were much more likely to accept my proposal. Instead of sending a few lines in an email, it definitely pays to either go in to see companies in person, or make phone calls so they can get more of an understanding of what it is you want from them.
What's your business system? and let readers know the strength and weakness of your business system? and what kind of business system is good for online store?
We operate the same as a bricks-and-mortar boutique – labels ship their stock to us, we store it here, then photograph and upload it to the website, and customers purchase through our website.
Our actual site has an e-commerce facility built-in, which if done properly, isn’t cheap but it’s definitely worth it as it makes the ‘behind-the-scenes’ work flow smoothly. A lot of people think they can get a website made cheaply to cut costs, but really your website is your shopfront so it needs to be professional, attractive, and easy to use, as well as secure. We had a professional website design company create our website and it was worth every cent!
There are so many specialized websites about baby clothes, women clothes etc. what makes your company different from your competitors?
I agree, there are lots of websites that are the same things repeated over and over again, mainly because the people starting them don’t research properly. You need to find a point of difference from everybody else in the market – ours is that we sell cool, affordable clothes for ladies and kids/babywear in the same place, with 5 star customer service. I also am constantly seeking out new brands to include in the store, so we have a good mix of established, popular labels as well as up-and-coming independent designers.
In korea, nowadays there are many young people who try to open the online store selling fashion clothes. In your experience, what are the tips and steps to run the successful online stores?
Research. There’s no point starting an online store that sells the same things that 50 other stores sell. Find out what it is that customers want, and deliver it to them. – Find a point of difference to make you really stand out. – Don’t assume you can start an online store on the cheap, and be making a fortune in no time at all! It’s a lot of hard work, and it takes a long time to establish yourself on the market. Think how endlessly large the Internet is, and figure out how you can stand out from the cyber-crowd! – You will need to advertise, but be careful where you spend your advertising money. Don’t spend thousands on ads that have little return. – I thought I would be able to handle all aspects of the business myself, but I can’t. You need to know what your strengths and weaknesses are and work with that. I employ a photographer to do our pictures, and a bookkeeper for the paperwork, as I am hopeless at that sort of thing! – Be prepared to work long hours and be on call 24/7!
what are the common mistakes that people made when they start their online business? why do you think like that? and how can we prevent that?
-they don’t research their product enough, and get caught up in thinking “this product/store is something I would really like, so I will assume everybody else would like it too”. This might not be the case so pitch your idea to people and find out if there is a space for your business before you go any further!
-They try and get their website made cheaply, which can make it look unprofessional and hard to use, as well as difficult to maintain behind-the-scenes. Customers need to be able to use your website easily and feel secure doing so. Get quotes from professional website designers that have many testimonials to recommend them.
-They assume they will be able to work minimal hours and have lots more free time. Unfortunately, if you’re running your business properly and fully committed to it, you’ll have far less free time!
When you first launch your brand. It must be hard to PR your company and generate revenue. How long did it take you to become profitable? What has been your most effective marketing strategy?
Creating a ‘brand’ is important – get an effective, catchy logo and plaster it everywhere so people get to know it. Word of mouth is also important online – if you can get people talking about your business on internet forums and related websites (eg shopping directory sites) you’re well on your way. Nowdays social media platforms like Facebook and twitter are also hugely important, but they take a lot of commitment and upkeep so you need to be prepared to do this. We also do a lot of ‘favour’ advertising – essentially swapping articles, products or competition sponsorship for ads on other websites. Print advertising is a whole other medium, and if you pick your outlet carefully it can have good returns, but it is a very expensive outlay. Our most effective strategy has been to work closely with fashion magazines (this sometimes means forking out for ads here and there) and sending our products to them in order to gain editorial. Items that get featured in magazines sell through the roof so this is very valuable advertising for us!
What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur? and What is it like to be an young entrepreneur? It may look fascinating. but there must be so many obstacles to overcome. What's the real life as an entrepreneur?
Time. I often wish I had more time to do things with my daughter or friends, or even just more time out to read a book! I do have a more flexible lifestyle but I also have a lot of commitments that go with that, and it can be hard to juggle everything effectively! Time management is definitely a very tricky obstacle. Being a young entrepreneur is great, as there are always so many things you can learn from people who have been doing it for years. I also don’t feel that I’m tied down to doing this one job forever, which is important to a flighty Gemini like me!
What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else? and What advise do you give to people who have a conflict mind whether to get a job or challenge for starting their own business?
It was a wise person who said “if you want to be an actor, get a law degree first”. In other words, it’s risky so it’s always good to have backup, like another job that you can count on if you need to, or something like lots of savings behind you. If you’re totally committed and passionate about what you’re doing, definitely go for it, but make it a calculated risk – this is where taking the time to research and develop a business plan is so important.
The major difference is, I think, a sense of satisfaction – seeing something that you’ve created essentially out of nothing grow into a company or brand that people recognize and appreciate. And also a sense of independence – being your own boss requires self-discipline but the sense of freedom is great!
Have you any plans (personal or business) that you can share with us about your future plans / goals / lifetime goals?
Oh I have a whole notebook full of ideas on new businesses and products that I hope to develop! As long as I’m happy and fulfilled and enjoy getting up for work everyday, I’ll keep doing what I’m doing. And hopefully have some brothers and sisters for Charlotte in the near future too!
And would you please say the things that you want to say to korean readers especially to women entrepreneurs before saying good bye?
Good luck! I hope you can take some tips from what I’ve said and apply it to your own business ideas. Don’t be afraid of hard work, and don’t give up! And…treat yourselves to some fabulous shoes every now and again