Digerati50: A couple that grows together …
By Lum Ka Kay August 5, 2016
Digital News Asia (DNA) continues its weekly series that profiles the top 50 influencers, movers and shakers who are helping shape Malaysia’s Digital Economy, from Digerati50 Vol 2, a special print publication released in February 2016. To download a special e-reader version, see the top of this page. For information on customised reprints of Digerati50, email [email protected].
- 2015 was a great year for FashionValet, opened its first physical outlet
- ‘There are challenges separating work time from family time’
IT has been five years since Fadzarudin Shah Anuar and his now-wife Vivy Yusof founded FashionValet, and he is really happy with how things have turned out.
“Everything we went through has served as a lesson for us throughout this journey,” says the 27-year-old father of two.
Running a business as a married couple does have its challenges however.
“As a married couple, everything that happens at work becomes amplified because we spend all our time together. There are challenges separating ‘work time’ from ‘family time,’ but we are consistently learning how to make that separation,” says Fadzarudin.
His advice for married couples running a business together? “Decide early on what each other’s responsibilities are and when push comes to shove, who has the final say.
“There really is no such thing as equal control – there has to be one person who has authority over the other.
“However, this doesn’t mean blanket authority. Vivy and I are clear on which areas we both have authority over, but if one of us has any objections, we make it known,” he says.
Despite their differences, Fadzarudin says his and Vivy’s distinctive characters actually complement the business.
“Vivy loves fashion and handling relationships while I’m more of an operational and data junkie, so from Day One, we both knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and we made sure our roles were split accordingly,” he says.
There is also the business of running FashionValet, an online fashion e-commerce site that has since expanded into physical retailing as well.
Fadzarudin, also the chief executive officer, is keen to build – and not hire – his own A-team for the startup.
“People expect you to hire an A-team … but to me, it’s impossible to do so. The ecosystem here is just not mature enough yet,” he says.
“The thing that’s happening now is that people who’ve grown a startup leave after sometime to help grow another startup. But in Malaysia, that’s not happening rapidly enough.
“So what we do, we groom our own talents,” he says, adding that for FashionValet, English proficiency is crucial when it comes to hiring.
He also admits that talent management is the toughest challenge in running FashionValet.
“At our stage, it’s going to get harder for us to achieve 100% growth annually, so I really need everyone on the team to be on the same page,” he says.
Managing expectations from the board and shareholders is also something that he has had to constantly learn along the way.
Then there are market expectations too. Fadzarudin admits that FashionValet is ‘just another e-commerce player,’ but argues that what sets it apart are its targeted partners and audience.
“We provide a platform for local and regional designers to sell their products, and we also serve the purpose of changing the perception of customers towards local and regional brands.
“In terms of customers, we’re targeting the middle- to high-end customer base as the products we offer are premium,” he declares.
FashionValet currently has about 450 designer brands, of which at least 300 are Malaysian.
2015 was a great year for the husband-and-wife team, especially after the startup opened its first physical outlet, but Fadzarudin says FashionValet is not going to stop growing and exploring new business potential.
“If you’re too comfortable with your current situation, it is actually a warning sign that you’re not doing enough. There’s so much more we can do.
“There are so many markets that FV has yet to venture into. There are other types of fashion we can venture into, as we’re now only doing women’s fashion.
“Plus, 50 years from now, people are still going to buy clothes, so the key here is how to stay relevant in the game via technology,” he says.