Most of these parents have a hard time finding clothes for their babies that are good in quality and reasonable at the same time.
Q: How did a mere problem of finding good quality clothes for your child turned into a proper business?
Altamash: In the beginning we were not sure about starting a business. Initially, it was just a project but after we realized that most of the parents like us are having difficulty finding good quality clothes for their babies at reasonable prices, we saw this as an opportunity to explore. It was just a simple idea when we started it but then ultimately it has reached the point where we have made trusted customers and I am continuing this as my sole job. We are investing into it to make it bigger and better. Actually, our idea became a reality when we visited an expo in Thailand. The visit served as the final push to start.
Q: What was that expo about?
Altamash: It was a children’s toys and clothes expo. There were many brands exhibiting their products We explored some if these brands and after coming back we finally started Maya’s Closet.
Q: Did you also introduce the “toys” category along with the “clothes” category?
Q: How do you manage to source with these big companies, did you have any previous experience in business that helped you?
Altamash: Yes, I had a different business earlier; I had people in my contacts which really helped us in sourcing and shipping of these products.
Q: When it comes to online clothes business, there are a lot of risks associated. What particular uncertainties you had in mind when you started and have you been successful in overcoming them?
Sabeen: The biggest uncertainty was developing a trustworthy name in the market and being recognized as a good and genuine store. We have been able to do that, we have repeated customers almost every day which is a proof of this.
Q: What specific roles do you guys perform at the company and do you have any other members in your team?
Altamash: Well the whole thing would have been impossible without Sabeen’s efforts. I manage the outsourcing and handle supply and delivery. Recently, we have launched our website so I was occupied with that. Sabeen makes the ultimate calls. She cares for the minor details, she makes sure each picture is taken perfectly. She also handles the customers efficiently and makes sure each one of them is satisfied. She is awake till like 3am in the morning to manage these things. We have also hired a new member called Zunair who assists Sabeen with her work.
Sabeen: Yeah as Altamash said we have these roles divided among us. Zunair especially helps us in packing the orders and he is also very good at taking photos. Together, Zunair and I make sure that we upload the best picture of the product on our website and Facebook page.
Q: Yeah it is true that for an online store picture quality of the products really matters. Have you received any complaints regarding it?
Sabeen: I am very concerned about this. Zunair and I take all the pictures ourselves, customers come up with questions like, “is this picture real?” “It looks like a fake image.” So sometimes I feel like uploading a bad quality picture so people actually know that we took it on our own, it’s kind of funny.
Altamash: We had a stall at Citizens Archive of Pakistan a few days ago and there was a lady who came to visit us from a place that is 1-1/2 hour drive away. She wanted to physically see the products before buying and left extremely satisfied because what she saw on the Facebook page was what she got in reality too. She remarked that in future she will have no issues ordering online from us.
Q: There are many other online clothing websites and some of them sell baby clothes as well. How do you ensure that the products you are selling are of the best quality in order to justify what you claim?
Altamash: It’s true that there are many other online stores where you can get baby stuff. These stores charge unreasonable prices while at Maya’s closet you can get the same stuff in a much reasonable price, as I mentioned we are working with the world’s top brands.
Our focus is not making huge sums of money through our orders but our focus is to create value for money.
Moreover, some of these stores have very poor customer service. But we make sure our customer’s needs are met. Sabeen goes beyond the line to ensure this. The passion and love she is putting in, I don’t think any other place does that.
Sabeen: As a mother, I know what other mothers are looking for when buying clothes for their baby. Even if there’s a single spot on anything we do not put it up for sale. We have customers who buy from us again and again which motivate us and this reassures us that we are making a difference.
Q: How many orders on average do you receive every week? Is there a specific trend or does it keeps changing?
Sabeen: It keeps on changing. Just like with any other shop, there are days when we get lots of orders and there a days when we get only few.
Q: How do you take orders and how long does it take for an order to be processed?
Altamash: Firstly, we do not implement the policy of taking preorders which is unlike other e-stores. We only sell things that are available in stock. We take orders on our Facebook page but recently we have launched our website so we are taking orders on both the places now. When an order is confirmed, we pack it and it is delivered to the required destination. It usually takes 2-3 days to get across. We also offer Cash on Delivery service but some customers also make bank transactions.
Q: How many cities are you delivering to and how are you managing the logistics?
Sabeen: We are delivering to 230+ cities in Pakistan. And we have partnered with Blue Ex for logistics.
Q: Since you have an online store and your work is based on delivering the products, have you ever thought about having your own logistics?
Sabeen: Right now we are using our energy in ensuring the quality and value of the products we are offering. If we hired our own delivery boys then our focus would be diverted to this. So we are letting the professionals handle it. Blue Ex has been doing really great with us. They charge a fixed fee for their service.
It feels good to see Blue Ex grow with us, we both started as young startups and at the same time and we are both complementing each other for growth.
Q: As you are growing do you have any investors funding you or are you entirely self-funding your business?
Altamash: No, we are entirely self-funding it. There were a few investors who showed interest in our company. But we couldn’t reach any settlement. The investors are interested in raising money; one of the investors wanted us to raise the prices. But we couldn’t do that. We are known for best quality at affordable prices.
Q: Is your office setup based at your home? Have you considered going for incubation where you can have the things done more efficiently?
Sabeen: Yes, we have our whole setup at our home. No, we did not consider incubation because Maya is young and she needs us around so we are managing all of this at home.
Q: Lastly, do you see Maya’s closet becoming a warehouse or a proper shop?
Sabeen: Well maybe. But we think online stores are the future. You would be surprised that most orders are placed after midnight and 6-8am in the morning. It shows that the parents of these babies do not have time to physically go to a shop during work hours. So, for our customers a proper physical shop would not be as good as an online place where you can order anytime and check all the variety through a few clicks.
Q: Thank you Sabeen and Altamash for your time. Is there any message that you’d like to give to your customers?
Altamash: I am truly obliged to our customers who have trusted us and shown great support. Especially to the customers who have been ordering for quite a long time, they have shared our journey and are like friends to us. I want to thank them for staying with us.
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