For Estonian expat based in the UAE Margaery Otis, being a novice in the world of entrepreneurship, she was initially struggling to make new contacts and find first customers for her women’s fashion label Kimono Girl, which sells hand-embroidered and embroidered silk kimonos – traditional. Dress from Japan.
Otis remembers walking for more than three hours in the Dubai Mall in high heels, clutching bags of the startup brand and her dresses. A few hours later, I was able to score one customer who bought a kimono.
“I felt as if my effort paid off even though it was only one person who showed an interest,” Otis said. “But then I told myself that every business takes time to build.”
Do whatever it takes to make your business work. Do it relentlessly even if it seems silly
– Marjorie Otis
This is why her message to every start-up founder like her is, “Do whatever it takes to make your business work. Do it relentlessly even if it sounds silly. She even went to an NFT event that had nothing to do with power fashion and was able to sell seven pieces of kimono”.
After ten years of professional work at Empowerment in the UK, Otis decided to start her own fashion brand with no prior experience and in a particularly niche clothing line based on ‘energies’ or ’emotions’, referred to as ‘energy fashion’. .
“I started my work on ‘energies’ very early on when my dad brought home a book on meditation. I was only eight at the time, but it caught my eye and read it. Since then, I’ve spent a lot of time understanding such ‘energies’ “I’ve even been taking breaks from my job to spend time in monasteries in countries like Nepal. During one of these trips to an island in Greece, Otis decided to combine her interest in ‘energies’ to launch a fashion brand focused on mindfulness.”
What is energy fashion?
It is a fashion brand that is based on studies that a positive frame of mind or “vitality” leads to higher energy levels and a more positive outlook on life.
The term “energy fashion” refers to a piece of clothing or accessory that shows positivity to the wearer through the use of various hymns or mantras. In the case of Otis, Buddhist, Pali, and other phrases are used.
Criticism of an experimental concept
Investing a significant portion of the savings to start a business in a somewhat niche industry must be a risky proposition despite the growth of the healthy fashion industry, and the kimono as an apparel is gaining appeal as a modest dress. Having said that, a fashion brand that focuses on mindfulness and kimonos as clothing is more likely to appeal to certain segments rather than mass as such.
When asked if she was feeling a sense of uncertainty, Otis said, “Not for once while thinking, pre-launch and post-launch phases. I took a leap of faith without realizing how hard it is to make a fashion brand leave aside a niche concept like energy fashion I was sure that my first set would be sold out in three weeks, which of course didn’t happen.”
The brand was launched amid positive reviews. Only when the initial hike was followed by a period of lull did Otis realize she needed to fill in some gaps. Otis feels that these “costly lessons” will help improve future groups.
Tip #1: Build a strong network
“Besides my family, friends and well-wishers, I didn’t have such a network or database to draw on when I launched the brand. I consciously walked away from talking about the brand until the first set was ready. But that wasn’t the right strategy because to build a strong network I had to I talk more about the ethics and purpose of the brand to attract the right people. I should have leveraged the power of social media to build brand awareness and customer base and connect with the network once the kit was ready. This was a huge learning. If anything, I realized the power of owning The right network to rely on. Not everyone may buy from me but they may be able to support me in different ways.”
Tip #2: budget for brand building activities
“Another huge learning is the need to allocate a certain budget to brand building activities. Especially for a new brand like mine that requires increased awareness among customers about the benefits of wearing energy fashion. When I made the initial forecast and budgeting, I did not allocate any money to marketing and brand building , a mistake I quickly realized.Now, on an ongoing basis, I allocate approximately $2,000 (~7,345 dirhams) per month to brands and marketing-oriented activities.Organic search can only create a certain amount of brand awareness and then the campaigns become Paid activities are essential.”
I took a leap of faith without realizing how hard it is to make the business of a fashion brand leave aside a niche concept like energy fashion.
– Marjorie Otis
Tip #3: Optimize Cost Where Possible
“By sampling, sourcing and shipping, it is possible to optimize cost at every level. My first set has a heavy embroidered kimono, which increases the cost of shipping. In addition, I chose express shipping and paid a premium. Now I am more aware of making and ordering light clothes Inventory early to optimize costs.I also plan to improve production based on customer demand, something I didn’t do at first.In fact, even my initial investment of ~300,000 dirhams to start the business was a bit lavish and could have been improved.This was all learning.To Besides, the logistics of creating a business [licensing, opening a bank account etc] In the UAE he is very simple and friendly.”
Stay true to the “why”
Authenticity is a huge differentiating factor, and a sense of purpose is critical to any business, Otis feels. That’s why it’s important to stay true to the “why” behind the action.
Ask any entrepreneur and they will tell you that there will be cycles of highs and lows. What makes an entrepreneur stick to his or her vision is the purpose or ‘why’. I decided to go an unusual path because I truly believe in the benefits of incorporating mindfulness into fashion. I’ve also consciously chosen to align with other women-led businesses whether that’s supplier companies or networks.”