Working in a bank five years ago, I loved wearing baju kurung as it fits both purposes of being a formal, yet beautiful workwear. However, I found myself struggling to find trendy baju kurung, especially when it comes to modern patterns, which was also affordable. This was what inspired my partner and I to sell traditional Malay wear and come up with Bayu Somerset.
Modest fashion often brings to mind official Malay uniform worn in a formal setting. However, we treat modest fashion differently in Bayu Somerset. We feel that a baju kurung is meant to be worn by Malaysians as a whole, and we wanted to create a clothing range that is relatable to all ages and wearable for all races in Malaysia.
Even though we are within the modest fashion industry, we try to position ourselves as a brand that practice inclusivity and diversity. We include all races, skin tones and body types in our collection. We also encourage people to dressed fashionably in a modest way and emphasize being comfortable in your daily wear.
My family come from corporate backgrounds, and working in corporate has always been my plan. There were no entrepreneurs in my family, and it was not something that I saw myself doing five years back. I was in fact, very happy working in a bank for 4.5 years, and aimed to climb the corporate ladder for the rest of my career.
Contrastingly, my partner Emir grew up in a household of entrepreneurs. His parents each owned a different business. After high school, Emir and his siblings decided to venture into the clothing business and opened their own store at SACC Mall Shah Alam in 2012. Being exposed to entrepreneurship from a young age has prepared him for running his own business one day.
On hindsight, I have to say that my few years of experience working in a bank also contributed to my confidence and knowledge in running this business. Although being vastly different from the industry I am currently in, my corporate experience has inadvertently prepared me for what I’m doing today, and I am very glad for the path I’ve chosen.
The brand has grown quickly. From just the two of us running the whole operation, we now have a total of 30 employees in our workforce, which is amazing to us. Fashion brands have always been more minimalist in Malaysia, featuring simple patterns, subtle colors, and plain colored fabrics. When we first introduce our brand to the market, it surprised us that our styles were being accepted by society.
We positioned our brand with lots of fun, quirky patterns in a modest way of dressing, which was quite uncommon in Malaysia in the past. Seeing people dressing comfortably and more confidently in our patterns now, is certainly rewarding and brings us much joy.
One of our key drivers is to ensure our customers enjoy the convenience of shopping with us. This is the primary reason why we joined Lazada. While we believe that every eCommerce platform has its own strength and customer base, we chose to focus our efforts on Lazada, and have seen tremendous growth since. Although we loved our corporate career, entrepreneurship has been incredibly rewarding and fulfilling for us.
We have been very impressed with how fast Bayu Somerset grew as brand, but growth always come with its own challenges. One of the main challenge for us is prioritizing the area to focus and invest our efforts on, so we can bring Bayu Somerset to greater heights. And this often goes back to our cash flow management.
What we love about working together is that it is easy to have a discussion when your business partner is someone you spend almost all your time with! Everything progresses quickly as we are always together. We think similarly, and also make sure our individual responsibilities are crystal clear on each tasks.
Emir’s people and company management skills that he acquired during his corporate days have proven to be a valuable asset to the company. He has better decision making abilities and is very good with numbers and analytics.
His strengths are different than mine, but ultimately I love that our different strengths complement each other, to run this challenging but certainly rewarding business!
Watch the Bayu Somerset’s full video here.
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