Seven years ago, whilst stuck in a bumper-to-bumper traffic in between shopping errands driving from one mall to another, a frustrated Fadza Anuar asked his wife Vivy Yusof: “Why can’t everything just be in one place?”
It was the answer to the question that sparked the idea of what would eventually become his million-dollar venture FashionValet.
Today, Gen.T Lister Fadza is still asking questions and his insatiable curiosity is a key driving force behind the success of FashionValet. Coupled with his wife’s star power and brilliant marketing acumen, FashionValet is now one of Malaysia's most valuable companies in the e-commerce scene.
We caught up with this witty and media-shy entrepreneur who revealed the six consistent questions he asks himself every day—and night—so he can always lead FashionValet into greater heights.
How will FashionValet add value to the lives of others?
“This question does not only apply to our customers, although they are an important part of the business. Over the years, FashionValet is rapidly growing but the local designers we collaborate with are not able to catch up. It worried us for awhile but we feel responsible for our partners. We don’t want to leave any one behind. This is we are focused on helping our local designers scale up their businesses, through advising them about finance or operations. It is rewarding for us to see struggling designers thrive with our help.”
What incremental changes needs to be done for FashionValet make an impact?
“Change does not happen overnight. I believe if you make small improvements every day to the business, it will take you closer to your big break. Last year, we executed many ideas: we took FashionValet from online-to-offline and we then expanded our stores one mall at a time. I can’t pinpoint one particular event that has defined FashionValet's success because it was a combination of many little things that builds up to become big parts of the business.”
How do I step outside of my comfort zone to lead the company?
“Vivy is the face of the company. As for me, I am content working behind the scenes because I am not comfortable in the limelight. So when the marketing team for FashionValet came up the idea of filming a reality TV series to promote our company, I was initially against it. I don't feel comfortable showing people the ins and outs of my personal life. It was only when I saw the tapes for Love,Vivy that I realised it was not going to become Keeping Up with The Kardashians. There were real values we could highlight through the show. While I didn't change my opinion overnight, over time I started accepting that Love,Vivy was a great idea. Eventually as I grew more comfortable, I agreed to appear in the show and accept more interviews—a step outside of my comfort zone.”
Is FashionValet authentic to our brand’s values?
“When international e-commerce competitors entered our market, FashionValet made a mistake of joining the price wars. We thought it would help us survive. Unfortunately, we sacrificed our values for the sake of success and the quality of our product and service suffered. It was a costly but valuable mistake. But we were lucky because we managed to pivot in time and corrected ourselves. We then chose to stick to our values of supporting local brands, building the right culture in our company and prioritising quality over price. When we started believing in our products and doing things right by our customers and employees again, we thrived because we stood for something."
How do we manage expectations across the board?
“In the last two years, FashionValet grew five times in size. Naturally our shareholders expect this growth to be the same year after year. I am also aware how our employees and fashion partners are dependent for us to do well and I am also conscious about public expectations of our company because FashionValet is now a household name. Truth be told, I am afraid of not consistently delivering so I always think about how to achieve a stage of normalization for the company in a way where the growth will make everybody happy year after year."
How do I motivate my employees to their fullest potential?
“When I am not crunching numbers or having meetings throughout the day, I am on conference calls with our investors in US and Japan outside of our regular 9-5. The truth is, Vivy and I cannot do everything ourselves. So we are believers in building a strong company culture. We want our staff to understand what’s at stake so they fully know the impact they are making and what they are achieving in their work. Falling off the edge is scary but it makes you grow. Vivy and I have gone through it so many times but we have always stayed strong. So I think about what ways we can help our team in the company go through the same level of growth by falling of the edge, standing up and trying again and again.”
Photo: Aaron Lee/Lenswork