An entrepreneur from Denmark seizes the opportunity to penetrate into the online Muslimah fashion industry, reported The Straits Times.
IT is normal nowadays for young people to start their own business. What is exceptional is that he’s a non-Muslim Danish male who decides to venture into a Muslimah online fashion boutique in Malaysia.
To achieve this and to carve his name in the online halal industry in less than three years, he not only ended a relationship but also left his family behind in Denmark.
“We wish to build a virtual Islamic marketplace, a one-stop shop for everything halal, and we hope to conquer this within the next two years,” says Mikkel Bjodstrup, co-founder of Muslimah fashion portal Hijab2go.
The 28-year-old who graduated from a business school in Copenhagen relocated to Kuala Lumpur a year ago and wasted no time in seizing the opportunity in the Muslimah fashion market. And he aims big.
We met in a bungalow in Damansara Heights which has been turned into Hijab2go’s workplace, known as The Nest.
The work area is more like a place where a group of friends get-together, except that each of them seems to be engrossed with work on their own laptop. Interestingly, the 18-team members comprise young foreigners and several local youths. Five of them were recruited by Bjodstrup from Denmark.
“We work up to 16, sometimes 18 hours a day, and are 100 per cent committed,” says Bjodstrup, of his preference to hire foreigners.
Perhaps it also makes Bjodstrup feel at home. Besides his countrymen, his 24-year-old brother is also part of the team.
“But we would be nowhere without the local colleagues as they help us understand the culture and connect us to the suppliers. We do everything as a team,” says Bjodstrup.
Their hard work seems to have paid off as the portal has attracted half a million visitors within six months since its debut in March. It has also received close to 30,000 likes on Facebook.
As for choosing Malaysia to launch his business despite it being his first time here, Bjodstrup says:
“We want to move forward and the online business penetration in Malaysia is at a speed that can easily drive us to go global.”
Bjodstrup’s journey started when his fellow Danish friend invited him over to build a company here. He used to own a management consulting business back home but seeing this as an opportunity to grow, he left everything behind.
“I even ended a three-year relationship with my girlfriend because I wanted to be here. But I didn’t say I don’t miss her,” he adds.
Bjodstrup may have that budding entrepreneur quality but what intrigues me is his interest in Muslimah fashion. Why this?
“I’ve seen how passionate Muslim women are in fashion, in terms of time and money they spent. It is also fascinating to see how the locals make hijab and traditional wear look beautiful and trendy at the same time.
“Plus, nobody has dominated an a online market in Muslimah fashion yet,” he says.
While there are thousands of online companies which focus on Muslimah-wear, there isn’t a large or popular house name which carries variety of Muslimah fashion brands under its wings. This is what separates Hijab2go and its online competitors.
“We bring local designers and suppliers who, for instance, operate a small boutique at a mall or a girl from Malacca who designs headscarves,to a single platform where they can sell their products to anybody in the world. This is how we wish to empower women,” Bjodstrup adds.
For now, the portal features 25 brands of Muslimah fashion — from headscarves to kaftans and wedges — and will soon venture into halal cosmetics and beauty.
About 10 suppliers on halal products are waiting to come onboard, including cosmetic suppliers from Singapore. Bjodstrup also aims to expand its office locally and abroad.
“We are planning to have offices in Penang, the east and the west coast. We will also be in Brunei and Indonesia by early next year and looking to set up logistics in Dubai,” he says.
It may be amusing for some since it takes a non-Muslim and a foreigner to find Muslimah fashion and halal industry promising, but Bjodstrup puts it this way: “Sometimes it takes an outsider to identify something great.”
He hopes to own a warehouse in Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta and to link suppliers and consumers on the latest trends and happenings in each city.
He said most of his customers are young professionals between 25 and 45, who use their purchasing power to satisfy their ever-changing fashion cravings.
Bjodstrup says Hijab2go prioritises on customer service and tries to be available around the clock to cater to customer’s needs.
“Our customers need to feel safe when they deal with us.”
Therefore, in addition to live chat sessions during working hours on weekdays. suppliers and customers can reach them anytime through Facebook or Whatsapp, the cross-platform mobile messaging service.
Hijab2go is not too picky about the suppliers, says Bjodstrup.
“However the designs have to be beautiful.” The team also ensures that only quality materials are sold even though the prices can be quite high.
The hijab found in the portal range from RM24 to RM680. Bjodstrup however thinks they are fairly priced as the products match the quality.
“But we don’t decide on the prices, it’s the supplier’s call. Our job is to take care of their brands online and to handle the order fulfilment, advertising and promotion as well as shipping services,” he adds.
The hot selling items are in the range of RM40 to RM90. Among the brands they carry are Masrina Batik, Nani Kuala Lumpur, Nawwar Design and The Kapas.
For details, go to www.hijab2go.com
Link to original article, here.