Farhana Fathy, 34, owner of DemureByHana boutique, says running your own business means taking on a whole lot of responsibilities, but it also means you get to control your own destiny. ZIEMAN reports.
Tell us about DemureByHana.
DemureByHana began as an online hijab store in 2012. It’s a fashion platform targeted at Muslim women between 20 and 40, mostly students, working adults and mothers. Our products include hijab, long shawls and modest Muslim women clothing. We ship our products worldwide namely to Singapore, Brunei and Qatar and we have plans to penetrate more countries in the future.
Apart from the boutique in Kelana Mall, we also have agents and stockists nationwide and in these three countries.
My journey as a businesswoman started when I was pursuing my masters degree. I could not cope with work, so I decided to run my own business. Since I used to have a stable income before, I decided to push myself to earn the same income. It was not easy at first, because running your own business means you have to be more determined and persistent.
I started small, and the business just grew every year.
What motivated you to become an entrepreneur?
I’m drawn to it because of the flexible hours. Owning your own business requires hard work and long odd hours, but then again having your own business allows you to have flexible hours. This means I have more time with my son. I am naturally a go-getter, and I have my own goals and plans. Having my own business also means that I can also control my own destiny.
What was your first entrepreneurial experience?
I was selling contact lenses online, and the response was unexpectedly quite good. This spurred me on to venture into other businesses online like selling shawls, hijab and so on.
What stands out when you look back?
It’s always memorable when people come to me and say they are inspired by the things that I do. It’s satisfying, as I like to inspire people to do something good for themselves. My greatest achievement, so far, is seeing my company grow, and seeing my brand, DemureByHana and my hijab label, Inarah, becoming one of the most sought after brands in Malaysia. Hopefully, I can make it regional.
What do you enjoy most?
I love meeting new people. I’m a people-person, so I look forward to meeting new people. I like to understand my customers better and having interesting conversations and gaining new experiences. Meeting new people can be challenging and fun, and in my line of work, it’s something that I have to do every day. Sometimes you meet customers who are such livewires that you get on so well that they eventually become your friends.
What’s the least favorite part?
There’s more responsibility and you need to be more careful with your finances because you have more bills to pay, including the salary of your employees and various other expenses.
Who’s been your biggest supporter?
My husband and my family, especially my mum, who has been tirelessly advising me on what to do and what not to do.
My husband has always been there for me. My loving family has been such an amazing support system for me. Being an entrepreneur also keeps me close to the family and friends.
You have to keep your relationships close because these are the people who provide the support whenever you need help.
Is there anything you wished you knew before you got started?
I wish I knew about accounting before I plunged into business. Things like accounting equation and what it means, how do you get the net income equation, profit margins, etc. I’m glad I’m able to grasp all this now. It’s very important to manage your own accounting if you have a small business like mine, otherwise you have to get an accountant to help you. I feel that the more knowledge you have regarding your finances, the better you can manage your business.
What advice would you offer a budding entrepreneur?
Whatever the business, it’s important to have a business plan. First, you must evaluate and study the market. Who are your potential customers, where are they and what do they want? You must know how much you are selling your products for and how much capital you need. Then you just have to plod on and never quit. You must also set realistic goals.
How do you keep up with the hijab fashion?
First, you need to know your target market. We have our own consumer demographics, our marketing plan and our own customer database. Keeping up with the latest fashion means matching the latest fashion with our own customer base. We want to be original, incorporating all the latest trends with our own customer needs. These have to be in synergy. It’s not easy but it’s something we work on.
Do you have a favourite quote?
My favourite quote is “Success is simple. Do what is right, the right way, at the right time.” This quote really inspires me because in order to become successful you have to find your way, learn from the best, do your best and never give up. Find opportunities, and also work smart.