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#WeekdayAttitude

Pear Chirathivat

Co-Founder og Girlsnation

I work out every day or else I get moody

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What are you up to?

I’m working as a business developer for my family’s business. Generally, I’m making old-fashioned media more digital and adaptive. We are trying to move beyond just selling ads in media and start providing other services as well. I also co-founded Boyfriend Cosmetics and a sportswear brand, Girlsnation.

How did Girlsnation start?

It was unintentional. My partner had a connection with a factory that makes sportswear for some really good international brands. We saw a business opportunity in this industry so we thought we’d make one collection just for fun and just see how it goes.

What was the first thing you did?

I did a lot of conceptual thinking, mood boards, and general brand image first. I like seeing a clear visual of the mood and tone of the brand before diving into anything else. It made it easier to make decisions for the other parts of the process.

Luckily I work out a lot and I knew what kind of sportswear I like and I followed that. I didn’t want to sell overpriced stuff. I want to sell workout clothes that can be mix and match with stuff people already have in their closets. I personally love workout clothes that you can work out in and still look cute before and after. Obviously, function comes first when it comes to sportswear, but we still want to do both function and fashion.

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DESIGN PROCESS

What did you do after you got the branding locked down?

I started to sketch out designs. Basically just draw out whatever I wanted to wear. I didn't look at the other brands too much since I didn’t want to subconsciously copy them. The DNA of the brand is ‘basic but not so basic’. I love small design details in my sportswear so I put some in the designs.

I went in to talk to the factory about the patterns and they were very helpful since I didn't have any knowledge on that front. I didn’t know that hemming workout clothes is different than normal clothes since you need it to be extra comfortable and also look seamless for skin-tight leggings, you know. We talked to them about the minimum amount we needed to make just because we didn’t plan to make a lot of our first collection. We also started researching the materials. All of these were done in parallel.

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How did you find the fabric?

The factory knew some fabric factories but we also had to look for ourselves too. For sportswear fabric, there are no premade rolls of fabric, you have to pay the fabric factory to make the fabric for you. I looked in both Thai and Chinese factories and ended up using the one from Thai factory.  It costs more but the quality was so much better. Good quality fabric in China exists too but was limited by the high minimum amount. We ended up only using some Chinese fabric for the decoration part like the mesh details.

How did you know the fabric you ordered was good?

They gave you samples. However, the colors of my design were not something that they have made before so we needed to do a ‘lab-dip’ which was a fabric dying process. After the ‘lab-dip’, we had to take that fabric to the garment factory to do another lab test to prove that quality of the fabric is up to the standard. We tested for the flexibility of the fabric, the longevity of the color, heat resistance, etc. It was an official lab test with a proper lab result.

Did you lose money from bad fabric?

We had to throw out a whole bunch of the products because the colors didn’t stay. Another time we bought the whole batch of fabric that claimed to be good and all but then had to return the whole batch because the lab test turned out to be bad. Now we know to buy only a small batch to test with first. We had to buy enough to make a sample design because sometimes using a different fabric for the same design doesn’t work because the properties of the fabric are different.

Now we have a pretty good relationship with the fabric factories that we trust, so we always go back to them for the other collections. However, there’s always new technology for workout wear so we also need to keep up to date too.

Learning...

What was your first collection?

We launched 2 styles of sport bras, a workout legging, and one cover-up. I think we only made 100 pieces for each design. It turned out pretty well.

What did you learn from your first collection?

The first collection was launched July 2016 and it was all about learning from the customer feedback. For example, the legging we came up with sit at the hip since that’s how I like it, but most of the customers like high waisted legging because it sucks them in more. Our customers gave us pretty honest feedback when we asked them. We saw a pattern in the comments as well. I learned that there are only a few commons problems when making things for women. They just want to look good in what they wear. Some people were concerned about the legging being see-through, but I was already concerned about that too so I made sure it wouldn’t be.

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What do you do for marketing?

We send our stuff to influencers (some paid some not) and do Facebook and Instagram ads. A product usually would sell a lot more when an influencer posts a good, clear photo of our product. We know which influencers bring us the most customers because they post photos at different times and some of our customers just sent us a screenshot of the post to ask for the products.

Now I do all the content, Instagram posts, graphics, and everything. It’s fun and we save a lot of money doing it ourselves. We outsource our Facebook ad campaign activity and they help us figure out our bid price and that sort of thing.

Did you start working on the 2nd collection after the first one was launched?

Yes. It takes 6-8 months for production time. We actually needed to adjust our timeline a bit because the first collection took so long. We tried to set up deadlines for each of the processes. So far, the production and timing have been the most difficult challenge.

Based on the feedback from our first collection, we tried to make more designs for the 2nd one so people have more options and we have more opportunity to sell and learn. We started putting them in physical stores and malls too.

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What is the difference between selling products online and in store?

We want people to buy our product online more so we give people who order online more benefit like free shipping and free return. We get smaller, fixed percentage when our products are sold at physical shops.

Which collection was the most successful?

I think the 2nd and the 3rd collection. Our 2nd collection was all nude and earth tone colors sportswear, which I’ve never seen before especially in Thailand. It was a big hit! We remade it 2 times and they still sold out. The 3rd collection was the legging with the knee details that people really love.

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Do you get discounts from factories?

I don’t get any special discounts. But it’s normal that the production cost goes down when you do a higher volume of something. I’m trying to reach that point for products that sell really well so the cost can be a bit lower. I’m pretty picky about the quality of the product so the cost is a little higher in general. Although, building a good relationship with the factories allows for small benefits like lowering the minimum production volume for us.

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What's the future look like for Girlsnation?

In the future, we plan to stop launching by collection but do it by month instead. We started to put our stuff in the malls this year and the customers are more demanding. We found that people who work out buy workout clothes often because that’s all they wear, especially if they work out every day. It will be hard work to make that happen and the timelines will be overlapping: starting another collection before the previous one is finished. I already booked the next year of factory production time. We also started to do more serious budgeting and money stuff planning, but I leave that to my partner to take care of.

Lifestyle?

What's your day-to-day schedule?

So I help with my family business around 3 days a week. I’m also working as a TV host for an architecture show, but this has no fixed schedule. I work on my own brands everyday, talking to factories and supplier.

How do you take care of yourself?

I exercise everyday. I get moody when I don’t. That’s how I socialize too since my friends work out and I meet a lot of new friends from these workout classes. I mostly do it in the evening. I used to hate exercising as a kid but now I’ve been doing it regularly for 3 years now. I started with pilates and now I also do spin classes. I love pilates Cadillac! My doctor told me to do it because it makes the core muscle strong. People with strong core muscle apparently get less injured in accidents.

What about food?

I definitely watch what I eat. I eat clean! I try to avoid fried food and do fewer carbs for dinner. I don’t really drink coffee.

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What's your skincare?

I don’t really wear much makeup on a daily basis, but sunscreen is a must. I get freckles so easily and I’m always outside so I make sure to put sunscreen on every single day. I also need lip balm all the time.

Where do you shop?

I don’t shop a lot anymore. But when I do, I’ve been leaning toward Australian brands. I like complicated outfits, like a lot of wrapping and stuff. I shop through Revolve or Fashionbunker.

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