Blog > Small Business Saturday: KozoPosted on May 2017
Rin is a long time friend of the brand. We first met her during a tradeshow in Singapore and she approached us to stock at her shop located in Kuala Lumpur.
Being a Singaporean based in Malaysia and formerly a teacher in a primary school, Rin is no stranger to change. Her ability to adapt to new environments and adopting new endeavors inspires us at the office everyday. Read on to find out more.
You started out teaching as your first job, tell us about your switch to fashion/retail and how you came about it.
I figured out recently that I am someone that enjoys picking up new skills. When my husband proposed the idea of moving to KL, I jumped at it and realised that it was my chance to pick up something new, start “afresh” and perhaps try my hand in a different industry.
After a year of moving to KL, I was approached by a friend to start a multi-label store. It was a fresh idea at the time and hence jumped at the proposal of bringing what I saw in Singapore to KL. It was one of those dreams that I had to own a retail store. So that was the start of my journey in the fashion/retail industry.
Did you face any challenges changing career paths? What were they?
I was definitely doubting if I had the ability to make such a big switch and if my skill sets that I gathered from 6 years of teaching would be any useful. The only retail experience I had was from my part-time jobs I did when I was younger. It was definitely a leap out of my comfort zone from dealing with children and parents to facing fashion people.
What would you say was your most satisfying thing about working on KOZO now?
It has to be when I have customers that really dig my designs and appreciate the aesthetics that I am trying to present. On a more intrinsic level, I find that learning something new about the business and running a business is a satisfying feeling.
How about your biggest obstacle(s) you face when designing clothing for women.
We are all built differently and we, women, regardless, have our own insecurities so having to design something that can make most women feel comfortable and confident in is definitely a challenge.
Also sizing is one issue which we are still experimenting with.
You didn’t study fashion or design growing up, what advice would you give aspiring fashion designers who are afraid to take the leap despite their background?
The key to it is life-long learning. It is what I believe in and used to instill in my pupils. You are never too old to start over and never too late in picking up a new skill. Always keep an open mind and not be afraid to seek help.
Who are your mentors? Can you share some things you learnt from them.
Trixie, lady boss of By Invite Only, has been a key person that I turn to when I need help. I got to know her when I started my first multi-label store. We became fast friends and she has been crucial in giving me the moral support and sharing words of wisdom on this journey.
Another person would be Irene, who used to run a clothing label, Chic Yamada, and now my manufacturer. She has been a great help in providing me with advice, about what would work and what would not. She shares her experience with me readily and I picked up a few tips from her.
You’re a Singaporean living in Kuala Lumpur, are they any differences in lifestyle you experience?
The environment and people here in KL are more laidback and this might not be in a bad way. People are less reserved and I would say less “kiasu”. So I'm thankful to have known many friends here in the industry that are not afraid to share and are very helpful when I seek their advice.
The opportunities in KL is very readily available. I think it is also more forgiving for people who want to start something on their own here in Malaysia.
What can we look forward to seeing from KOZO in the next few months?
We are going to launch our second Capsule collection and looking to working with other brands that complement KOZO. We're stocking By Invite Only designs on our online store and going to be their only Malaysian stockist. I'm excited about it.
Are we going to see more of you or KOZO in Singapore?
I probably won’t be moving back to Singapore anytime soon but bringing KOZO to Singapore is definitely in the pipelines ‘cause it's still my motherland. We actually do get quite a bit of customers from Singapore buying our designs.
So let’s see how things unfold and how the market situation develops. I’m one person that doesn’t like to count their chickens before they hatch but I’m definitely looking forward to the opportunities that lie ahead.
If you're from Malaysia, you can find By Invite Only's jewellery pieces stocked now on KOZO.online! Check out their website and don't forget to give Rin a support on her socials.