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What began as a small idea, has blossomed into a lucrative business venture for Kesi Asher, who is now reaping much success.
For the past two years, Miss Asher has been working feverishly to master the art of running her own business, a task which she is handling extremely well as Managing Director of Yaad Cloze Designs, a company that designs and sells ladies’ shorts and panties.
“We design the shorts locally…they are sewn here and we print our logo as well as catch phrases on them. The panties, on the other hand, are not sewn here.we get those from a supplier, but we print little catch phrases on them,” Kesi explains to JIS News.
The underwear line includes thongs, full fitting panties, ladies’ briefs, produced in different sizes and colours and 100 per cent cotton.
Miss Asher points out that the panties are done to fit every female contour and are available in different styles for all women.
Citing her reasons for doing underwear and shorts designs, she notes that “I thought about underwear because I am very, very fond of underwear. I like the very nice looking ones and I find that a lot of the panties that are being made now are very lacy and uncomfortable, so I decided to go with cotton, as it is very hygienic and takes the print a lot better than other fabrics.”
“As for shorts,” she continues, “I like the small, sexy ones and I find that not a lot of that is on the market now, so I decided to do that as well.”
Explaining how her business operates, Miss Asher notes that while she outsources the sewing and printing to a local factory, she conceptualises the designs for her underwear and shorts lines.
“I am the only person in the company, so I come up with the design, the catch phrases and how the product is supposed to look. I source the material for the shorts right here in Jamaica from the regular fabric stores and tell them (the factory) what exactly I want and they do the sewing and printing,” she says.
Miss Asher points out that her clientele range from ages 18 to 40, mostly women, although there are a few male customers who purchase items for their ‘other half’.
“I only sell to individuals at the moment…the only entity I supply is the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), which normally buys my products to include in their valentines packages,” she tells JIS News.
She explains that her business is seasonal, with three collections annually – Christmas, Valentine and Summer – which she promotes and markets through Summer and Christmas shows.
“Presently I am in production for the summer collection, which is called ‘Summer Rave’ and it is at this show that I get the bulk of my clients and sales and where I start the networking for my distribution,” Miss Asher says.
At Christmas, she participates in the JBDC’s annual Christmas fair and marketplace, Kumba Mi Yabba.
She points out that Kumba Mi Yabba allows her to showcase and market both her Christmas and Valentine collections.
“I also market via the internet, radio advertisements and flyers. I go around to businesses and market the show,” she explains, adding that “I have a mailing list for the bulk of my customers, so I mail them when I have something new.”
She says that it is through the shows and all the other media that she markets and get sales for her collections.
“This is how the distribution and marketing starts, because from the advertisements, the show, the various networking and company visits that I do, I get a lot of feedback and people will call, place their orders and we deliver,” she outlines.
Miss Asher boasts that her collections are unique, as each year she produces different pieces and never repeat a design.
“Once you buy something from either our Christmas or summer collections, you can rest assured that you are probably one of 10 people in the entire island that has that piece,” she affirms.
Miss Asher states that each collection usually runs from 300 to 350 pieces, with her shorts designs being more popular, “because they are made from scratch, as those are my direct designs and catch phrases that come from my mind.”
In terms of selection of material and fabric, she explains that she usually looks for material and colour that are appealing and fit the design.
“For Christmas and Valentine, we use a lot of red, silver, a lot of nice classy colours, while for summer, we use a lot of bright appealing colours…so whatever I feel at that particular time and whatever is current in terms of the fashion industry, we tend to border on those colours,” she says.
Even though Miss Asher holds a first degree in English Literature and Sociology and never got formal training in design, she maintains that it is an area that she loves and has a passion for, and uses as a means of challenging her creative side.
“I was always into design, I have never really done it before Yaad Cloze but when I decided to do Yaad Cloze, I was unemployed and wanted to do something that would generate some income as well as give me the opportunity to indulge in my passion,” she tells JIS News.
“I usually design for myself, so now I have the chance to put it in practice and on cloth,” she adds.
In terms of the growth, she says that her client base has moved from 30 persons in the initial stage to 200 currently.
She gives high praise and credit to the JBDC for giving her both the technical and financial support to establish her business. The company provides development assistance for micro, small and medium size enterprises.
“When I just started, I did the Building Youth for National Development Programme (BYoND) with the JBDC, a programme which teaches you how to develop a business plan, go about organising your business, distribution, marketing and pricing. I attended the training programme and on successful completion, I was given a grant of $30,000 that enabled me to start my first set of designs,” Miss Asher reflects.
She points out that the JBDC’s business start-up programme “helped tremendously as it was from this first set of things that I did, that I was able to build the business and do a second, third set and continued after that.”
At the birth of her business, Miss Asher says that the Corporation gave her the opportunity to participate in the Kumba Mi Yabba show, from which she made “her first big profit.”
“I would encourage every business interest to seek the support of the JBDC, because they give you both financial as well as business development support, and it is not just when you are starting but they continue to support you throughout,” Miss Asher says.
The future is looking even brighter for Miss Asher, who is poised at growing and strengthening her business.
“Right now I am working at getting the products into some stores. I believe that by the Christmas collection, I should be in some stores, which I will market and advertise, so people will know where to find the products,” she reveals.
“I am also toying with the idea of a male brief design and depending on the feedback from the market, which I am testing this summer, this product should come on stream next year,” Miss Asher adds.
She says that her overall aim is to become the Jamaican underwear supplier and to market her products overseas. She says that when this plan takes off, she will be able to incorporate brand Jamaica a lot more in the products while marketing overseas.
Her advice to persons is: “There is nothing like doing your own business, being your own boss. There will be rough patches, because it is never easy, but there are entities around like the JBDC, Jamaica Intellectual Property Office, Companies Office of Jamaica, that can give you the guidance you may need.”
“The sky is the limit, do what comes to you naturally, because there is a world of opportunities out there..all you have to do is just tap into the market,” she says.
For more information, order or delivery arrangements, Miss Asher can be contacted at 397-8732 or email: yaadcloze@hotmail.com.