Four friends decided that they wanted to settle for nothing but the perfect fit when it comes to shirts. Then they realised they were not alone and it was the dream of most men when it comes to fashion. Thus they embarked on a journey like no other in Sri Lankan fashion industry's history.
1. Describe S & C in 3 words ?
Custom Tailored Shirts – is what we are known for
2. How did it all begin ? Wasn't tailor-made the In thing ?
Realised there wasn’t much of a choice when it came to buying well fitted shirts. Lack of variety too. This was back in 2012. Most people purchased overseas and there were imperfections in those too.
So hence in 2014 Four friends came together to create Stripes & Checks We created a brand that not only gave you a well fitted shirt, but also gave options to customize and bring out your personal sense of style.
3. Your plan was to go completely online and now you are in retail ? Why ?
We wanted to sell custom tailored shirts online and realised the our domestic market was not ready for it. Furthermore in-order to sell overseas we needed a physical presence to start in the city of country we were targeting. We also recognized a demand from those who still preferred the convenience of just picking a shirt off the shelf so we decided to open our premium and unique fabric offerings to them as well. The reception has been very positive.
4. How challenging was it to convince people to order their shirts online ?
Highly challenging and nearly impossible for tailor made shirts but now with our current website catering to ready-made shirts we see a growth in sales. The market is generally hesitant because they are unsure if the measurements will be right without visiting the tailor.
But once they are confident shopping on our website we see a gradual adoption of tailor made shirts online.
5. What is your advice for people who getting into online fashion ventures ?
Do sufficient market research, gain experience first in apparel or fashion retail, be well funded.
6. Customisation. One of your key selling points ? How do you differentiate it with the ordinary tailor-shops out there ?
For starters we have well over 150 different fabrics on offer for shirts at any given time and all of which are imported from reputed fabric mills across the world. In terms of customisation – you can choose the type of collar, cuffs, placket, buttons and even the thread for the buttons. You can also have your initials embroidered (monogram) for that added bit of uniqueness.
In addition to this the finish of the shirt is far superior to that of a normal tailor shop. If the client wishes he can even mix and match fabrics into one shirt. We enable our clients to bring out their personal sense of style.
7. Could you share some digital strategies you have followed with us ?
We generally focus on social media marketing to get our message across and run promotions. We plan to communicate our brand to the audience more frequently and keep them up to date with our new fabrics and offers. Style tips will be included too.
8. Talk about your experience at the Venture Capital competition where you were recognised ?
Did not know much about the start-up community until we applied for the Venture Engine program. We ended up winning this in 2015 and was given the coveted title of the most fundable start-up of that year.
This gave us an immense understanding of how companies are valued, their unique propositions, the importance of cashflow and most importantly opened doors meeting and networking with individuals and businesses from different industries.
9. If you could change something you did at the start - what would that be and what advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs of Sri Lanka ?
We’ve made mistakes from the inception of our business. And we have learnt so much over the last 4 years and continue to do.
This I guess is part of the process. In order to better placed I would suggest doing better research and maybe gain some experience in the industry in which you want start your venture in. There is no limit to how much you can prepare and we wish we knew all the things we know now but that's how it's going to be. I would say the most important thing is to always listen to and observe your target market and ensure your idea adapts to those tends and demands