Although online boutiques grow like mushroom lately, not many have made the cut, except for one distinctive boutique – Irenelim Fashion. Founded in late 2008, Irenelim Fashion is known for its glamorous and trendy apparels for women, not forgetting accessories such as necklace and bracelets sometimes, making it one of the most favorite online boutiques by many fashionistas.
The screenshot taken from Irenelim Fashion online boutique shows the happy customers in the beautiful outfits they bought from Irenelim Fashion.
In an interview with the founder, Irene, she recalled that it all started with her blog. While she was not much of an active blogger before, she was surprised at how well-received her blog was and how it has managed to connect her with her family and friends, not forgetting, her readers at that time.
Talk about the power of online presence.
Being a visionary person that she is, she saw almost immediately how powerful having an online presence is and how it could change her life forever. Seeing this as a glimmer of opportunity, she knew she should be taking advantage of this wonderful fate and turned her blog – irenelim.com/blog – into an online boutique, while retaining her life tell-tales in the same blog. Needless to say, her blog now became her lifeline to her business and the need to keep her blog updated from time to time became a necessity from then on.
Blessed with a very good relationship with her clothes suppliers, Irene’s quality apparels come from a wide range of dealers, which varies from local and some even all the way from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and China. Good quality of stock coupled with love, passion and excellent customer support have made her the successful person as we see her today with her website being one of the most sought-after online boutiques in town – in just a year!
However, life is not always rainbows and butterflies, and like any other successful entrepreneurs, Irene too has a dilemma of her own. In an interview with her, she quoted having a challenging time balancing her full-time job, family-time and her online-boutique business. And although finding good and reliable suppliers, not forgetting, the best hosting provider – for the website to be able to operate brilliantly – is quite a challenge, she is lucky to have found some trusted suppliers and Exabytes as her hosting provider of choice to help her gain even more customers. Although the dilemmas keep getting tougher, the optimistic entrepreneur added that her key to overcome her setbacks was to deal with one hitch at a time and move on for the better.
It started out with a corner in the utility room. Now Irenelim’s clothing have blossomed into two rooms, and even with racks and shelves so as to ease herself in sorting them out.
When asked how important having an online business is to everyone as we all make our way into the web 2.0 era, Irene, who has an eye for detail for each and every clothes she put up for sale, definitely has something to say. Let’s find out what:
- Do you think having an online presence could contribute to the success of someone’s business?
Definitely. In fact, although I wouldn’t say I am that successful, but thanks to online business, I am where I am today, running my own online boutique, and gaining more and more businesses each day.
- Did you start off your business with the presence of a website?
No, we started with a small corner in our house. Selling mostly to family members and close friends.
- What makes you choose to want to have an online presence (website)?
I graduated in IT and I am working as a software engineer, so I have been using a computer for decades and I grew up on the Internet! I understand the importance of an online presence and the potential of a website to reach out to the whole world. Oh, another reason at the time was I couldn’t afford to have a brick and mortar store at Damansara!
- How different is it now that you are selling your products online as compared to last time, when you had to sell them in person? Please describe.
When I first started, my sales were very slow as I rely almost completely on words of mouth from my family members and friends. Also, my customers were mostly from Klang Valley as they would drop by my house to look at the apparel and hand pick them.Now, selling online, I can reach out to the whole world, not only limited to customers from Klang Valley. In addition to Malaysian customers, I have customers from countries such as Singapore, Australia, US, and even from the Dubai city!
- How many pieces do you approximately manage to sell in a month, now that you are selling online, as compared to last time, when you had to sell it in person?
The challenge now is to manage my sales and accounting in a proper and more efficient way. I haven’t been keeping track of how many pieces I can manage to sell in a month now. Maybe smart readers can help me to do a rough estimate based on the comments and remarks on the website. Haha. 🙂
- How much do you think you would have to spend in order for you to open and run a concrete store, as opposed to having an online store now?
For a start, I think I would need about RM150k to open a brick and mortar store. You will need to spend a huge sum of that for the renovation, furniture, racks, hangers, mannequins, electrical fixtures, and all the other stuff. You will also need to pay for expensive rentals, utilities, staff salaries and other overheads.
Compare this to an online store; we need much less expenditure than that, perhaps RM20k for a start. You will need to allocate some budget to get a professional company to design and put up the website. Make sure they are good in SEO and provide you with a user friendly control panel so you can edit and change your products easily. Don’t go for cheap web design packages that can’t deliver. 🙂 Oh, since you are selling online, do make sure you get the best webhosting company to host your website. Trust me, this is ultra important, as any downtime means loss of business. As for us, Exabytes is our trusted hosting provider of choice.
- How does having a website make any difference in helping you run your daily business?
The website is where I get almost all of my businesses.
- How much do you utilize your website in your daily operations?
A whole lot, I stay online almost 24 hours a day! Whenever Streamyx gets moody, I get moody as well!
- Do you think not having a website now will affect the success of your business? Why or why not?
Haha. I don’t have a physical boutique – all my businesses are from online. So yes, I believe it will.
- If there were entrepreneurs out there thinking of starting up a business, would you encourage them to get a website for their business? Why or why not?
Definitely yes. Now people tend to ask for website address, email addresses and Facebook IDs!
- If given a chance, would you like to try other things than what you are doing now? If yes, what business/field would it be?
No, I like what I am doing now.
When asked for her advice for new startups who dream to have their own business and yet find it hard to make the leap, she commented, “In a few words; have great passion and dedication in what you are doing.”
The Irenelim Fashion’s founder, Irene, in her elegant black dinner dress.
This story reveals how powerful the Internet is as a tool. There is no need for solid, classy mortar boutique for Irene’s business to bloom with increasing customers every day. With online business, anything is possible. Irenelim Fashion has done it. It’s time you make your move too.
For more of Irenelim’s outfits, please visit her official website at Irenelim Fashion.