Finding Aymee : Story of electrical engineer turned fashion entrepreneur
Ann started her entrepreneurial journey 3 years ago when she realised that although she was an Electrical Engineer by profession, she was a designer at heart. She wanted to give wings to her passion and decided to start her own entrepreneurial journey.
Ann launched ‘Aymee’ an ultimate destination for ‘desi-fashion apparel’ and other fashion accessories. Her products are contemporary, trendy and of course stylish, that ensures a unique offering for her customers. The USP of the brand is value for money, without ever compromising on quality. In her own words she tells me, “We take utmost pride in bridging the gap between fashion and cost and creating an “affordable luxury” segment for style conscious women to enjoy wholeheartedly”
She herself designs each and every dress that she sells under the brand name “Aymee Fashions” and the brand line “Ann Bonney”. She has suppliers from various part of the country and certain material is also sourced from outside India.
When Ann started off she had very limited investment. Being a Social Media enthusiast, she decided to start selling her products through Facebook. Online shoppers loved the designs, proof of which lies in the fact that the creations were almost always sold out within days of being put on their Facebook Page. Today Aymee has 80000+ page likes and a loyal customer base. Ann’s efforts are truly paying off.
She says, “To be precise we started with just Rs.12000. With such a small investment there was no other option we could think of other than Facebook. With over 1.25 billion users, Facebook is not at all a bad platform to start any online business” She also tells me that she conducts exhibitions once in six months in different cities where she has a good customer base.
She has built her customer base slowly and steadily. She says that she did not jump the gun by advertising in the papers or other offline media. She has built her strong clientele through word of mouth marketing. Today she has customers from various parts of the world.
Like any start-up Aymee also had teething troubles, when it came to logistics she tried many private courier companies but none of them met her expectations, although she manages by alternating with a few services. When it came to stocking, she dint face too many issues as her business was from home, which was the warehouse, the packaging centre and her call centre. Now with growing business she has rented a place to stock material. One of the most painful areas for her, was dealing with payments because her customers always found it tedious to transfer money to her. Being someone with specific requirements and high expectations, she tried many third party companies to handle payments of her online business, but these offerings came with many technical issues.
In early February 2015, the Shmart! Team approached Ann to try out the various easy online payment options for her business. She agreed to give it a shot and states that it was a good decision.
With Shmart! Ann creates payment links for her products and uses them on her Facebook page alongside respective products. Her customers find it easy to pay through these links while they check out the pictures on Facebook. Still aiming to give her customers a good shopping experience, Ann’s requirements for features like collecting shipping details and defining quantity got built into the Shmart! Business product, which benefits a lot of other Shmart! Business merchants today. Ann now defines how many payments can be done with each link (or rather how many units of a product shewants to put up for sale with a particular link) and also collects shipping details seamlessly as part of the payment process. Ann is happy with the flexibility and ease of using Shmart! Business which is so well integrated with her own business.
Her main motive to use Shmart! Business as a payment solution provider was because the technical team at Shmart! heeded to each and every technical issue be it small or big and support her to sort it out. She tells me,
The best thing about Shmart is that the team is approachable and they are dedicated to sorting out any problems quickly. When it comes to money, we are always careful & worried, but the team ensures things run smoothly
Using better technology in payments has also impacted the sales for Aymee Fashions. In the first month of business their sales were around Rs. 40000. And now with 5000 subscribed customers and around 80000 Facebook likes, sales have taken a giant leap and has grown by 10 times. Aymee Fashions now has a turnover of Rs. 5 Lakhs per month. “With customers finding it convenient to pay through different channels from anywhere at any time, it has become easier to grow the customer base as well as the sales. Thanks to this great experience of doing business on Facebook I look forward to start my own Ecommerce website and have a lot of inventory to meet the demand of our many online customers” she says with a twinkle in her eye!
With a lovely support system in the form of her husband, Ann has been able to bring Aymee Fashions to what it is today. When I asked her if she has any word of advice for those staring off today with online selling she says,
Always believe in your design and stand by it. Be unique and invest in giving your customer the best shopping experience so that they come back to you again and again
- As told to Pooja Sriram