As a coach I have started talking a lot about feelings. Very often we get so involved in “doing” things that we stop “feeling” and that’s where we fail to achieve – Achieve success, achieve glory and in this case achieve closure. My clothing brand SUMMER is closely connected to my heart and having to “shut it down” is causing me pain. Blogging has always helped me feel better and lighter, this time I plan to combine it with self-coaching and see what it brings up.
November 2017 is when I officially registered my business. But I was “in business” years before that.
I was 20 when I first fell in love with these cool, cotton clothing in light fabrics and simple everyday style. I was helping my now mum-in-law with her local community sale. Along with selling the clothes I loved talking to people and there was a lot of learning – as I observed her talking to strangers, making them feel at ease, selling with a smile, accepting bargains yet coming out as the winner. And these people returned to meet her year after year with more friends in tow! That was business simple and sweet.
Years later (almost 10) SUMMER was the first name that popped to my mind when I thought of giving a name to my business. It’s all about cool, casual, cotton clothing so had to be SUMMER and the brand colour yellow came as easily – warm and bright as sunshine. I designed my logo myself after going through several fonts and sizes, followed by a business card – all using Power Point in just two days! As I had also started blogging around the same time I printed my blogging brand ‘From Miss India to Motherhood’ on the reverse of the card. Done! I was “in business!”
I remember being very excited every time I visited India as I loved going to my father-in-law’s factory to check out the latest styles! I would go though piles and piles of clothing finding the right samples to use as a style guide for SUMMER. It was exhausting work and sometimes insanely hot on the factory floor, but my mother-in-law and I would painstakingly go through each pile chatting away at the same time. In fact I must say that my confidence to start my own business came from my mum-in-law as she was the one encouraged me to start selling these clothes on my own. I started taking a few pieces at a time, showing them to friends, then some more, till SUMMER was born.
Back to Hong Kong. After the initial years of doing business out of boxes at home, balancing my time between my kids and SUMMER, one day thanks to the encouragement of a dear friend I participated in my first bazaar! It was at my son’s school’s community sale, I sold my clothing piling them on a table. I sold an entire carton and I made a few good friends out of complete strangers! For the next one a friend lent me her clothing rack which displayed the clothes much better. I went on a popup spree after that! Armed with my racks, my suitcase, mirror and a heart filled with hope I started participating in many more popups across Hong Kong!
Business grew. I added more styles. People wanted to see product photos. Luckily I have a beautiful sis-in-law who happily modelled the clothes for me. After a few years her pretty daughters joined the gang as they made great models for my girls wear. I was an everyday model of course as I wore SUMMER all through the year and created word-of-mouth publicity. Next came building a database and I started taking client contacts at the bazaars that I participated in.
Things went very well for a couple of years. Growing business, increase in demand, client satisfaction – what else did a business need. But slowly things started becoming tougher with increasing competition and price wars. I realised that to sustain the business I had to expand and set up a physical shop and hire people, but I wasn’t ready for that commitment. Then came the HK protests when a lot of popups and bazaars had to be postponed or cancelled. I thought I’d wait it out and focus more on production, exploring new styles and colours. I had thoughts about exploring new markets, making SUMMER available for consignment, reworking on the price and so on. Destiny it seems had other plans for me.
They say adversity is the mother of all inventions. When my businesses were hit, I took a step back to figure out what I wanted to do. It seemed like a good time to learn a new skill, explore a new facet of life and that’s where coaching came in! A brand new chapter in my life. I took my time to start this new chapter, not rushing into it like most other chapters in my life. And I think I like it here, it makes me feel calm, comfortable and I like the person I am when I’m a coach.
So with the start of this new chapter, it’s time to say goodbye to the old one. It’s difficult, emotional even to close down a business that you had started with so much passion and love, but when it’s time you know it.
I would like to thank all my dear friends, family, customers, supporters and well wishers who have always been there for me and have supported SUMMER through thick and thin. I wouldn’t have lasted 10 long years without your strong support. Bye bye SUMMER. I will always hold a special place in my heart for you.
How am I feeling? Light, peaceful, happy, as I lay SUMMER to rest right here in the arms of my blog – From Miss India to Motherhood, where it will always be remembered and treasured, just like all other stories in my life….as life goes on.