When Alif Adam was in college, he was distracted by his studies and ended up having to keep it for a year before failing again in his sophomore year.
He decided to give the school another chance at the Millennia Institute, but unfortunately did not get the passing grade for one of his subjects and was asked to leave.
Although he was upset and demoralized, he now sees much of the situation. After his expulsion, he had the opportunity to pursue a degree in Advertising and Public Relations at the Ngee Ann Polytechnic, which became his “turning point”.
In his senior year, he applied for The SandBox’s Kickstart Fund and was given $ 3,000 S $ to fund his business called Carousell Waistlab, which resells waist shoes.
Most of the money was spent on product photography, which he believes is an important element that can help catapult a business, especially during the launch phase. The rest of the money was spent on creating websites.
“The grant did not cover my inventory investments and I had to take a small loan of $ 2,000 from my parents to buy stocks and packaging,” Alif shared.
A total of A $ 5,000 was invested in Waistlab and it reached balance in just five days, well ahead of its planned four months.
She sold more than 20,000 sets of her best-selling waist trainer
Growing up, Alif has always been close to her mother. After the pregnancy, she felt conscious of gaining weight and resorted to supportive underwear, which made her feel happy and safe.
As he got older, he realized that there was no existing local brand in the modeling clothing market, so he wanted to fill the void.
“Waistlab is a brand that seeks to support women who practice self-care, invest in themselves to make them feel good and safe,” said Alif, who started the brand at 22 years old.
He worked on the development of the Classic 9 Waist Trainer, which is 2.5 inches shorter than the typical 11.5-inch waist trainers on the market, which are designed for women with longer torsos. The aforementioned Classic 9 has since become Waistlab’s signature and best-selling product to date.
As of March 2021, Waistlab has reached $ 3 million in revenue and has sold more than 20,000 sets of the Classic 9 Waist Trainer.
The Waistlab Wear collection ranges from $ 35 for a wireless sculpture bra to $ 89 for a super sculptural full-length dress. Meanwhile, his set of waist trainers ranges from $ 85 to $ 99.
Alif, now 26, describes his waist coaches as “useful lifestyle helpers.” They are designed to help women feel good about themselves with better postures and serve as a physical reminder for them to develop healthier lifestyles and habits.
“Our customers usually share that they feel less eager to eat large portions, and it also helps them to straighten their postures and even encourages them to be more active, which makes them lose weight, ”he added.
In addition to being his muse, his mother was also the one who pushed him to apply for the entrepreneurship scholarship.
After experiencing multiple failures in his life, he did not expect to receive much support for his company. In fact, he was surprised that his parents firmly believed in him and his business idea.
“The support I received from them even translated into labor. When I was in Jakarta [for a six-month school internship], my mom helped me with some administrative tasks and taking orders, while my dad helped with package delivery. [Meanwhile], I manage customer service, social media marketing and website design remotely, ”he said.
It started first in Carousell
Waistlab started at Carousell in 2015. He received a great response from customers, who openly shared with him comments on how to improve the products.
The real challenge, however, was when he wanted to leave Carousell’s presence in mid-2017 and create a dedicated online presence with a business website and an Instagram account.
The brand was basically non-existent and only consisted of the initial logo I designed in five minutes in Photoshop. I was quite anxious for no one to follow our social media accounts and was convinced enough to make a purchase through our own website.
This was coupled with the fact that the products it initially sold were of an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) nature. I was very insecure with the brand and product development, and I knew I had a lot more to work on.
– Alif Adam, founder of Waistlab
Despite the insecurities, he relaunched the business and was confident he could improve it along the way.
True, during the first three months, he managed to get eight suppliers and finally found a manufacturer who could customize his own designs with a minimum manageable order quantity based on his cash flow.
Today, it still works closely with its suppliers in China to research, design and manufacture waist trainers.
“I’ve never learned fashion design, but understanding my client’s issues, such as the need for a perfect fit and comfort, has helped me design a better product over the years,” Alif said.
He added that specializing only in waist shoes during the first two years of the business marked an important decision, as it helped establish them as a benchmark for waist trainers.
Go from online to offline
At first, Alif knew that getting his brand out was crucial.
Fortunately, he was well equipped with design and public relations skills, which he acquired during his graduate studies.
“[It] it helped me during Waistlab’s childhood, from logo design to bags and addressing influencers to help me spread my brand, ”Alif said.
“I played the [influencer] network I had and I also got some cold [of them], who were very willing to support my small business, which I am very grateful for. “
As it built its user base, Alif felt it was the right time to take an omnichannel approach and expand its business presence with a physical store.
In August this year, it launched Waistlab’s first physical store in Bali Lane.
While the Covid-19 has posed the challenge of less retail influx, Alif strongly believes that a physical store is necessary for customers to touch and feel the products.
I wanted to minimize buyers ’anxiety about choosing the right size when shopping online with us. We started opening our office for offline shopping in May 2019 and we were very surprised to see how many people would not mind traveling to our office in Woodlands.
That’s why I wanted to expand properly into retail by seeing its potential and having it in a central location where it’s accessible to everyone. However, the business model will continue to be based on 90% of online sales.
– Alif Adam, founder of Waistlab
Having a physical presence also meant that you could build better relationships with your customer community — affectionately called #WomenofWaistlab (WOW) —and get direct feedback from them to improve the product or customer experience.
Interestingly, Covid-19 has also helped drive demand for waist trainers. Their research showed that because they stay home longer, they could not exercise or go to the gym so regularly, so they resorted to waist training to help them with home exercises and control. the appetite.
Alif also noted that while social media has become a “noisy and saturated site,” they are still a good tool for interacting with their followers and providing business updates.
“We find it very important to relate to our followers, respond to all comments and direct messages, post customer reviews, and constantly contact some of our WOWs to track their progress in waist training and present them on our Instagram “.
Bye now, Waistlab Instagram page has accumulated more than 14,000 followers.
On Instagram, Alif also often shares her entrepreneurial story in hopes of inspiring others. At first, she hesitated to do so because she was afraid that her female audience would feel uncomfortable knowing that a man has a brand of underwear for women.
“Surprisingly, it turned out I was wrong because they love to hear my stories and really believed in the brand. I’m very proud that some of my close friends are now really my customers from the early years of Waistlab.”
He was once a “clueless” businessman.
A few months after the launch of Waistlab, Alif had tried to apply for a place at Singapore Business University’s School of Business, but was turned down.
“I thought Waistlab would be a side project while pursuing a full-time career. It was devastating, but I saw this rejection as fun towards what I had to do, which is entrepreneurship. That set me on fire to channel all my attention to growing the business and running it full time. “
However, financing the business is a constant challenge. Aside from the $ 3,000 entrepreneurship grant, Waistlab is practically a startup.
“That means I just had to rely on a healthy cash flow and consistent monthly sales to maintain and grow the business. It was very difficult when I had to plan where the money we earned should go in the first few years. months.I was very afraid to invest too much in inventories [worrying] that you might not sell, or spend a lot on marketing but not have the stocks to support [the potential demand]He lamented.
Looking back, Alif admitted he had no idea on his entrepreneurial journey. Also, he had no mentor to help him guide and act as a sounding board.
Regardless, he was passionate about learning and conducted his own online research to learn the ropes of running a business.
I proved to myself that everything can be learned if you are willing to look for the answers. For every challenge I have managed to overcome, it has motivated me to move forward and find a solution to the problems I have encountered.
The challenges weren’t easier, but that just meant there were new things I could learn. Having limited resources has helped me find solutions.
– Alif Adam, founder of Waistlab
Sharing future business plans, Alif said Waistlab is now moving towards Malaysia’s neighboring market and has the ambition to establish a presence in Indonesia and the Philippines as well.
“In terms of product, we are definitely looking to expand our selection of Waistlab waist trainers and we are currently researching and developing a number of options and variations of our characteristic waist trainers in response to our customers’ response and feedback. very excited to launch it during the first half of 2022 ”.
Featured Image Credit: Waistlab