Sunday, August 20, 2017

Fashion entrepreneur spots the trend

Bringing  glamorous clothes to contemporary women at a fair price is the goal of Ma Su Wai Yee, 22, founder and CEO of Cici fashion.

Ma Su Wai Yee.Photo: SuppliedMa Su Wai Yee.Photo: Supplied

An economics graduate from Swarthmore College in the United States, she launched Cici in late 2014 while attending a six-month course by Project W, part of Project Hub Yangon.

“Project W was very important for starting my own business. It was there I learned how to set and implement goals step by step.” While she was at it, she was awarded the project’s Most Promising Young Woman Entrepreneur Prize, worth US$2000.

“My parents own Bang Bang fashion shops and a garment factory, so I’m familiar with the apparel business. I used to sell Cici clothes before introducing them officially through the Bang Bang chain.”

For Ma Su Wai Yee, inspiration for her own business came when shopping for herself.

Last January she came back from the United States, but could not find a good shop selling nice clothes for women that were not too expensive.

“I founded Cici to fill that gap by offering good quality at fair prices for the downtown lifestyle,” she said.

Sales of Cici-branded fashion started in November, targeting women between 20 and 30 years old who want fashion, but within Myanmar traditional culture.

Starting up wasn’t easy, with access to finance a particular concern. “Investors are needed, and interest is high. SME owners would welcome a bank that offered low interest rates. We have to find other ways of attracting investment, or rely on friends,” she said.

Some of her friends in the US are interested in Cici’s fashion, and Ma Su Wai Yee has plans to export her brands to the United States. She is already looking into exporting to Singapore, and is

attempting to create fashion that would combine Myanmar

traditional style with an international look.

“At first, I sewed only 30 or 40 dresses in any one style, but now the number is growing,” she said. Ma Su Wai Yee added she is also learning more about local market preferences.

“I can read the market better now. I know the market will be good, if I can only get my brands into the market. Brands like Spike and Vivala target the whole country, both downtown and uptown. But I’m selling to young women who like nice fashion. I don’t have many examples to emulate.”