Into its 10th year, FashionValet aims to be the Zara of modest fashion, says co-founder Vivy Yusof

The Malaysian fashion e-commerce site turns 10 this year. — Picture courtesy of FashionValet
The Malaysian fashion e-commerce site turns 10 this year. — Picture courtesy of FashionValet

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PETALING JAYA, Dec 9 — As the homegrown brand FashionValet turns 10 this year, co-founder Datin Vivy Sofinas Yusof is having a tough time naming her biggest achievement.

After all, there are so many to choose from in the past decade.

“The proudest, I’d say, would be how we grew as a company,” Vivy told Malay Mail.

The entrepreneur started FashionValet, the one-stop e-commerce store for modest wear in 2010 with just a three-person team.

The company now has more than 180 staff, many of whom are young mothers which explains the nursing room as well as a kids’ room that comes with a ball pit and Netflix, enabling busy parents to bring their children to work.

Co-founder Datin Vivy Yusof and her husband launched the company when she was 22. — Picture courtesy of FashionValet
Co-founder Datin Vivy Yusof and her husband launched the company when she was 22. — Picture courtesy of FashionValet

Vivy and her husband Datuk Fadzaruddin Shah Anuar founded the business when she was 22 after realising there wasn’t a platform for talented Malaysian designers with high-quality products to reach out to new customers.

“So we thought why not create a platform where we can bring the two together.

“Over the years, our mission was to elevate the local fashion industry and I believe we did just that with FashionValet as a platform,” she said.

Meet Farah, the everyday modest woman the brand created in conjunction with its 10th anniversary. — Picture courtesy of FashionValet
Meet Farah, the everyday modest woman the brand created in conjunction with its 10th anniversary. — Picture courtesy of FashionValet

As FashionValet enters the next decade of business, Vivy wants to focus on global expansion in the modest fashion scene.

“Our aim is to become the next Zara of modest fashion and make Malaysia proud,” the mum of three said.

The jewel of the company’s crown is arguably dUCk, its house brand of Muslim headscarves.

The dUCk Group, which now includes a cosmetics range, went on to become the first homegrown brand and first modest fashion brand to work with international names like Disney, Mattel, Marvel and Sephora.

Another big moment for the brand happened last month when New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern wore a dUCk scarf at the Apec meeting.

 

 

Surviving a tough year

For its 10th birthday, the team wanted a “FashionValet woman” so they introduced a character named Farah.

“She’s covered but stylish, modern and has goals in life,” Vivy said.

Continuing its charitable streak this year, the brand will also be donating RM100,000 to the IMAM Response & Relief Team (Imaret) fund in the fight against Covid-19.

Vivy’s company has been actively participating in fundraising initiatives since the pandemic broke out earlier this year.

From raising over RM2 million with Imaret to working with Malaysian Official Designers’ Association and Malaysian designers to sew 140,000 PPE suits for frontliners, Vivy said the pandemic has taught them to help others.

“The pandemic hit us hard, more so because we are in the fashion industry.

“Everyone was in lockdown, so no one was even thinking about buying fashion.

“But I’m so proud that we are surviving it well — we have not needed to explore retrenchments and salary cuts,” she said.

From just a team of three, the company now has more than 180 employees. — Picture courtesy of FashionValet
From just a team of three, the company now has more than 180 employees. — Picture courtesy of FashionValet

While the pandemic didn’t make the company shift its direction, Vivy said they are being cautious and taking calculated risks by opening more stores next year as part of their expansion plans.

“There isn’t a Malaysian, let alone South-east Asian fashion brand that is truly global and I want us to be that.

“We spent our first decade helping to build local brands and that was truly an amazing experience.

“Now, as we enter our next decade, it’s time we build local brands to be truly global,” she said.

On her leadership style

Looking back on the past decade, the London School of Economics graduate said she threw herself into the business not knowing how to lead.

“Over the years, I have come to the realisation that people do not want to be managed, they just want to be led.

“Lead, don’t manage,” the 32-year-old said.

Vivy jokingly said she wished someone had told her to buckle up for a crazy roller coaster ride when she started FashionValet.

“I think anyone who wants to be an entrepreneur does not realise how much your work will consume you, and you’ve got to really love the thrill.

“If you don’t, you will hate entrepreneurship,” she said.

Vivy is writing a book about her first decade as an entrepreneur, sharing the lessons she’s learned along the way in hopes of helping budding entrepreneurs.

On dealing with negativity

Asked how she deals with negative comments online as a public figure, Vivy said it’s something her blogging days prepared her for.

“I’ve had a lot of practice being judged and criticised,” she said.

Vivy revealed that those experiences have been helpful for her self-development not only as a leader but to become a better person and that one should be humble enough to welcome criticism.

“There are so many untrue things that have been said about me and anything related to me, but I’ve learned to pick my battles.

“Some things I just don’t engage, and some things I will set out straight.

“Everyone loves a piece of juicy gossip, hence, headlines can be distorted for clickbait – I’ve accepted that,” she said.

Vivy added that a minuscule issue can be magnified very quickly with social media and she doesn’t believe in venting her frustrations online, saying it’s unnecessary and doesn’t solve anything.

“But if it crosses the line of defamatory and is downright bullying, I’m no longer afraid to take legal action and stand up for myself.

“The most important thing, whether you’re public or not, is to have a solid support system.

“I turn to my loved ones a lot whenever I have moments of stress or frustration,” Vivy said.

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