Single mother finds true calling in fashion

14 May 2023 08:51am

"We are living in 2023. If men can do it, women can do it too." These are the words by a single mother of three, Affira Affendi, who is also a founder of two local fashion brands, NSA Glamorous and D’Songket.

Affira Affendi, a founder of two local fashion brands, NSA Glamorous and D’Songket.
Affira Affendi, a founder of two local fashion brands, NSA Glamorous and D’Songket.

This is the story of how Affira has built her business since 2019 while juggling her role as a single mother.

Affira with her mothers and her three daughters.
Affira with her mothers and her three daughters.

Having worked as a banker previously at Bank Muamalat, she said she managed to build her two fashion brands with the help and blessings of her mother who is also a businesswoman. She started by selling various items on e-commerce platform Lazada, before venturing into her own brands.

"NSA Glamourous is my first brand, which is focused more on women's clothing, while D’Songket is more focused on men's clothing, of course by using the Malay traditional handwoven fabric, which is Songket."

People know that having a business is not just an office job; it goes beyond that. The rule of being a businesswoman is, of course, that you need to sacrifice your time. When asked why she chose to leave her life as a banker, she further said that she has a lot of interest in business.

"As a daughter, I watched how my mother worked hard as a businesswoman. She sold clothes since I was six years old in kindergarten, so that's how she inspired me to be a businesswoman too," Affira said.

Slowly, she started to pursue an online business. She started to sell products online through Facebook; however, everything did not run smoothly. Then she thought to herself that maybe business is not her forte. That all changed when a friend introduced to her the idea of selling items on Lazada.

A conversation over coffee about starting a business on Lazada then further encouraged her to pursue this career path.

"I still remember the time when we were at Lazada, I said to my friend who was helping me set up a seller account, that I don't have a big amount of money to invest in this but he assured me that that was not needed," she said.

Long story short, she soon made her first sale, receiving RM14 for an item she sold on the platform.

During the school holida in 2019, Affira started selling school hijabs for students. From then, her business started to gain traction. This is when she realised she should focus more on the business.

"When we are in the fashion line, you have to follow trends, and you always have to keep up, otherwise you'll be a latecomer to trends. You have to sell things before others do.

"I love fashion. I go to the office and dress well. So, during that time, I did my research and searched what was trending in hijab.

"Like I said, before deciding to sell anything, you need to sell things that others don't first. You need to be the first," she said.

That is the recipe for Affira to be successful in business. Soon enough she managed to earn a five figure income, and eventually got out of her comfort zone and left her job as a banker.

Affira inspire women in Malaysia to be successful, just like her.
Affira inspire women in Malaysia to be successful, just like her.

"My mum is really strict because I’m a single mum. She was really upset with me and disagreed with my decision to resign because she knew what my monthtly commitment was like. In fact, everyone knows that raising three kids is really hard."

Then she asked her mom to see what I was doing. "I said mum, this is real money. This is not a scam,", Affira told her mom. After that, her mom gave her blessing for Affira to resign.

"In Lazada, it has seven levels for sellers. During the 11.11 sales in 2019, I immediately reached level seven. It completely changed my life.

"I’m now fully focused on business. There are ups and downs, but I am willing to take the risk," she said.

When asked her opinion on what was different about the strategies of other brands, she further added that, as a businesswoman, we need to understand what the target market wants. She added that business owners should research on what type of products have the potential to go viral through social media.

"In the recent Ramadan, I sold belts for men, but this belt was unique and no one else was selling it. The response was so overwhelming that the supplier couldn't manage, I had to find others to help produce it," she said.

Speaking on how she operates or runs her business day-to-day, Affira elaborated that now she has her own boutique, has two workers, and has increased her knowledge of online business only from her home.

Being a mother of three, a daughter, and a business owner is not easy. As a leader, she further added that she needs to always be one step ahead in everything.

"When we are in e-commerce, it is crucial for us to look around, meaning that your competitor is always looking for online training. Not to forget, always have a good plan and do not do everything at the last minute," she added.

Speaking on what she wants to focus on more throughout this year, she further added that she wants to increase the quality of the product and make sure everything is perfect.

"I do believe that if we enhance our quality, people will still want to buy from our brands too, so this would be the focus of the year. That’s how you can challenge your competitors."

Affira expressed her encouragement to all single mothers in Malaysia who are still looking at what they should do.

"Single mothers are strong. We can do anything. We are living in 2023. If men can do it, women can do it too. When I meet people, they always say, "I want to be successful", but they don't want to start the journey."

"Take the first step, and trust the process as you go along." she said.

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