In the final part of a four-week series, three companies tell Aaron Tan how they expanded from humble beginnings to make their mark at home and overseas.
The Sunday Times
September 27, 2015
WHEN Ms Julene Aw was shopping for clothes for her young daughter a few years ago, she could hardly find any that suited her fancy.
Ms Aw prefers clothes with a modern everyday style – not pink and princess- like as most children’s clothes are today.
Seeing this gap in the market, Ms Aw, who had worked in the fashion retail industry for nine years, came together with three friends in 2012 to start In Good Company (IGC), a label offering stylish staples for women, as well as for girls between three and eight years old.
Each of the co-founders also brings a wealth of expertise to the company. Two of IGC’s co-founders, Mr Sven Tan and Mr Kane Tan, are its chief designers.
Ms Jaclyn Teo, its managing director of marketing, has been in the fashion trade for over a decade.
“We started the company as a collaboration between like-minded people and that’s how we chose the label’s name.
“We saw the potential of coming up with something that we would not have been able to pull off on our own,” says Mr Sven Tan.
Unlike fast-fashion labels that churn out new designs frequently, IGC deliberately chose to go with designs that would last beyond “seasons”, by not following the international fashion season calendar.
It also does not segment its collections based on age.
“We took a lifestyle rather than demographics approach to our brand concept, which offers clothes that serve as a foundation for the wardrobe and that even our mothers would wear,” says Ms Teo.
As the four co-founders have been friends for some time and are familiar with the strengths of one another, Ms Teo says it did not take too long for them to come up with their first designs and get the business off the ground.
It also helped that they knew Singapore’s leading fashion buyers from large retail chains and fashion concept stores such as Front Row, which carried IGC’s debut collection in December 2012.
“We approached Front Row’s owner Ann Kositchotitana, who had been supportive of Asian designers.
She thought our products were well made and had a good price point,” recalls Ms Teo.
One thing led to another, and within a month of its debut, IGC caught the eye of Tangs’ buyers who offered the company a retail space in July 2013 for a 200 sq ft pop-up store in Tangs at Tangs Plaza in Orchard Road.
That space has since been expanded to 1,200 sq ft since August last year.
Having raked in double-digit growth in sales each year since its inception, IGC was ready to go into expansion mode.
In June, it made its debut in Hong Kong’s Kapok, a lifestyle shop offering a variety of fashion products.
More recently, it opened its first flagship store in ION Orchard that features an in-store cafe run by Plain Vanilla Bakery, a local bakery known for its cupcakes.
Ms Teo says: “We’ve always envisioned IGC to be beyond clothes. Our flagship store is really about creating a customer-centric space, where people can come in with their friends, have a coffee and shop at the same time.”
In line with IGC’s mantra of collaboration, the flagship store was also designed together with interior design agency Traart.
In addition, the cafe sports communal tables designed by Mr Nathan Yong, co-founder of local furniture designer Grafunkt.
IGC’s growth has partly been made possible by tapping Spring Singapore’s Capability Development Grant, which allowed it to refine its e-commerce strategies, enhance its branding and further conceptualise its online and offline store channels.
“Eventually, we hope to have more flagship stores, grow the brand internationally and attract more talent to the company in areas such as retail and product development,” says Ms Teo.
For more information on the retail sector and stories on how retailers have built their capabilities, please visit www.spring.gov.sg/retail or email email@example.com.