If you know Azorias, you should’ve heard about Hui Wen, the amazing woman behind it. The bubbly and ever smiling founder of the online shopping haven for corporate wear, www.azorias.com took the time to talk with us a little about her proudest brainchild. Tired of the very limited choices of places to shop for work clothes in Malaysia, Hui Wen decided to open up an online store of her own so she would be able to not only find pieces that suit her style and personality, but also share her love for stylish and quality clothes with her fellow fashionistas. Selling only pieces of the finest quality, she has taken Azorias to new heights with her sheer drive and determination. Her big dream finally came true with hard will, passion, and sharp planning along the journey. Today Azorias isn’t just another blogshop — it has become a household brand among some of the top career women of the nation! Many of us do not know what it takes to start up a business, but she was brave enough to sacrifice her high-paying job to build hers from scratch! We had a chat with her to find out exactly what it takes to make this big dream of hers come true…
1. What is Azorias all about? What is the uniqueness that you’re trying to convey to your customers?
Azorias was born because being a lover of fashion, I had trouble finding quality stylish work clothes when I first started working. It was depressing not be able to express my personal style at work!
It was also obvious that there is a gap in the market between blogshop clothing and high street products, and Azorias aims to do just that. All our products are made in Korea– an assurance of quality, yet still competitively priced. If you are a lover of details and ever-classic styles, Azorias is for you!
2. How did you start Azorias? What did you do before that and what inspired you to finally start the business?
I started my work life as an auditor in Singapore in one of the Big 4 accounting firms. I still vividly remember the day when I went to shop for my work wardrobe. Almost everything I saw was boring or drabby, and I felt resigned at the fate of working professionals.
I quit my job after almost 3 years, and went to Korea for a holiday before starting my next job in KL. When I saw the fashion scene in Korea, a lightbulb went off in my head. Korean fashion, being classic and stylish with an exceptional attention to quality and details, was exactly what I would have wanted to wear to work! I immediately knew in my heart that this could really work in Malaysia and Singapore. One thing led to another, and after much research and planning, Azorias was started 9 months later.
3. How did you get your funding?
Being interested in fashion all my life, I knew that I would need to rely on my own finances to fund my passion (be it starting a business or pursuing a fashion-related degree). Hence I chose to work in Singapore which pays better, and I channeled my savings from Singapore to the business. I also have two other partners in the business.
4. What’s your marketing strategy?
Some of my blogger friends have styled some of our products on their blogs– that kickstarted the initial brand exposure. We have also been lucky to be featured in various publications such as Lucky (USA), Women’s Weekly, Her World, InTrend, The Star, Hello etc. Most importantly, because our customers are genuinely satisfied with our products, they have helped spread the Azorias brand by word of mouth.
5. How do you find inspirations on the designs?
Quality and style is the key of all Azorias products, as well as an attention to details such as delicate lace, beautiful embellishments etc. And versatility. Many of our clothing can be worn a few ways via innovative designs such as detachable collars/ peplums. This gives more bang for the buck!
6. What’s your future plan for Azorias?
We have not done any overseas marketing, but we see a steady stream of customers outside of Malaysia and Singapore, such as Australia, Paris, New York, UK, Denmark and others. This is a great confidence booster, because it means that our products are on-par with overseas brands! Hence this is definitely something that we want to tap into in the near future.
7. How’s your daily life as an entrepreneur now?
When I first started Azorias, I was a one-man show! I replied emails, drew up accounts, packed each parcel painstakingly, did the merchandizing, styled the photoshoots. Thankfully, 2 years down the road, we now have a team to share the workload! Nonetheless, there is no ‘typical’ day for me. Meetings, photoshoots and frequent trips to Korea are all part and parcel of my work life.
8. What’s your own personal style?
I am a huge fan of juxtapositions, such as mixing girlie and edgy or combining studs with lace.Also, I think fashion is supposed to be fun, so I always try to incorporate a little humor into my outfits, such as a witty logo tee, a gold mesh tie onto a girlie dress.
9. Could you share with us a bit about your toughest moment of being a fashion entrepreneur, and what’s your secret key to face the tough times?
One of the toughest challenges in the fashion industry, especially in e-commerce, is competition. But rather than seeing competition as a threat, I see them as an opportunity to improve. The key is to stay true to your brand, and constantly innovate to be one step ahead of others.
10. What is your most rewarding experience as an entrepreneur?
Definitely our raving customers! Nothing beats hearing feedback from a customer who absolutely loved her Azorias purchases and vowed to tell all her friends about Azorias!
11. What would be your advice for our aspiring designers?
Come up with a unique position for yourself, do not copy or replicate other success stories. Be true to yourself.
12. Please state your own inspirational quote to inspire Malaysian young designers!
If your dream doesn’t scare you, it is not big enough.
Way to go, Hui Wen! You are a wonderful inspiration to us!
Click here to visit Azorias!