Malaysia start to implement Movement Control Order, MCO since 18 March until recently change to CMCO, Conditional Movement Control Order which is to restrict Malaysian from travelling and move around in order to stop the Covid-19 transmission chains. Then become Recovery Movement Control Order, RMCO until now Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Putrajaya, Sabah CMCO again. During this period, most of the business being affected and Malaysian need to adapted to the new lifestyle too.
AL Media take this opportunity to talk with Malaysia Entrepreneur, try to understand their way of overcome this tough period and their strategy for future. We are glad to have Laura Patricia, Urban Niche Founder to share with us their business and their strategy/solution in this critical period.
Who is Laura Patricia?
My name is Laura Patricia and I’m of half Sri Lankan and half Filipino descent. I have my own clothing collection called Urban Niche which specializes in swimwear, sunglasses and gymwear. Apart from that I’ve been modelling part time for about 10 years now and have been very blessed to appear in several local and international magazines such as FHM, CLEO, Debonair and even commercials for brands like Johnnie Walker and Axe. I’m also a freelance travel writer for Leisure Travel Magazine and I do emceeing and event management occasionally.
Tell us about Urban Niche.
I started Urban Niche in 2014. I decided to do it as I’ve always been very passionate about fashion and the latest clothing trends. Our brand specialises in swimwear, gymwear, bodysuits, beach kaftans and beach hats. Our designs are catered for women who are bold and confident no matter what shape or size they might be. We bring in very unique designs inspired by Australian, US and European brands which have a daring twist to them
How Urban Niche established?
I was a model for mainly swimwear and lingerie and used to find it very difficult to find nice or unique swimwear for photoshoots in KL. I decided to try importing designs from foreign countries and trying my
hand at designing a few signature pieces of swimwear to be sold here. Being a bikini model for so many years, I’ve been truly blessed to meet so many people in the industry including photographers, models and
makeup artists, some of whom I’ve become very good friends with.
Everyone was so supportive when I decided to start the brand and I got so much help and support with all the photoshoots and fashion shows that it started to escalate really well. I now have a pretty decent following on Facebook, Shoppee and Instagram as well as a physical outlet in Telawi 4 where my merchandise is sold. I’ve also branched out into gymwear. I find the current trend is leaning very much towards health and fitness so its a very good industry to tap on these days.
Did you attend any professional training to develop this business?
No professional training but I did do my degree in Business and International Trade so I learnt alot of entrepreneurial skills from there.
How many years you running this business?
I’ve been running it for 7 years now with the implementation stages starting in 2013. I started sourcing clothes form countries such as Thailand, Bangladesh, Indonesia and China. Eventually I went on to
doing some of my own designs. We started first just with swimwear and then branched out into gymwear, beach accessories and sunglasses.
Future plan for the Urban Niche and yourself?
I hope to expand overseas to places such as Bali, Maldives and Autralia with the brand as it grows. As mentioned earlier we may also start bringing in different types of merchandise such as lingerie, streetwear and dresses to turn the brand into something similar to Fashion Nova so there is a wider variety for all women.
Any words of advice for the business kickstarter?
In this time and age with the current Covid19 issue at hand I would say its a very risky time to start a business. It would probably be best to hold off until things calm down a bit more and the economy stabilizes again. However when you do start, start small and take minimum risks. Its the best time now to focus on online platforms from which you can work on from home during these times.
In Covid-19 Movement control order, any direct effect to your business?
Any solutions for it?
Yes there certainly has been a drop in sales as our physical outlet had to be shut down during the MCO. There has also been a terrible delay in receiving stock as one of our main suppliers is based in China and all shipments have been delayed. We have also faced issues where our landlord is not wavering rental accordingly despite the current situation which has resulted in quite a financial burden. As for our talent
management all events have been cancelled until further notice as no big gatherings have been allowed. The best and most sensible move at this point is to move as much operations as we can online in order to save on
cost. We are posting more often and giving great promos currently on Instagram, Facebook and Shoppee. We have many great customers who have still been supporting us throughout this difficult situation for which
we are extremely grateful for.
Any words to Malaysian or to the world?
It truly is a tough and unfortunate situation for people from any walk of life all around the world whether they’re entrepreneurs or corporate workers. The economic crisis is just as crucial as the health crisis itself and all we can do is to take it step by step daily. For now the best thing society can actually do to help each other is to stay home and stay safe. Be supportive of each other during these trying times and support local businesses. We need the whole human race to work together to rebuild the world and make it a better place.