SunMoonRain in SC Global Magazine
Founder: Shabnam Melwani-Reis
Business: Chic collection of gemstone and crystal bracelets
It seems apt to call the SunMoonRain (SMR) bracelets arm candy because one is never enough. Trust Melwani, one of Singapore’s fashion mavens and a director at the Jay Gee Melwani Group to inject the right combinationof style and marketing savvy into her own debut accessories line. The collection of delicately whimsical bracelets, created in workshops in Bali, Singapore and Hong Kong, are made with gemstones like citrine, tigers eye, labradorite and smoky quartz. Since its launch last year, the bracelets have quickly become requisite arm swag on well-heeled, jetsetting women from Singapore to London and Australia, oft worn in stacks alongside a Cartier watch or diamond tennis bracelet.
Those ahead of the fashion curve appreciate the brand’s luxe hippie sensibilities. One of
its charms is Melwani’s belief in the healing properties and positive energies of the gemstones and crystals. The website has a
“Stone Menu” that explains each gem’s healing quality. For example, aventurine is believed to be a stone of prosperity and good luck.
SMR came about when Melwani had her second child 10 years after her first. Feeling overwhelmed, she turned to the healing energies of stones and crystals, recalling that her mother had taken her to see a holy man in India when she was young. He had recommended specific stones to different people, based on the energies and healing properties of the stones.
A year from its creation, the line is now stocked at boutiques in Singapore, Bali, Jakarta, the Maldives and Koh Samui. The website, with its sophisticated design and interface that also features a blog, is an online shop that ships worldwide, with most orders from London, Australia and the US. SMR has an international appeal because of its great detailing. Every element—from its logo on the bracelet, down to its packaging and personal appeal of the healing stones—makes it a global brand. And for those in the know, SMR is also its creator’s initials.
Founder: Lisa Crosswhite
Business: multi-label fashion retail site for cool independent labels.
What started in 2012 as a one-woman “workshop” in Lisa Crosswhite’s living room has grown into a team of 10 working on the stylish website that retails hip, high-quality independent designer labels to the sartorially savvy. Based in Singapore for six years now, Crosswhite is a 26-year-old Canadian with a political science degree and professional background in advertising and modelling. Since its inception, Gnossem (the G is silent) now ships to five countries: Singapore, US, UK, Japan and Australia.
The site has become a fun and creative retail experience for its users, with extensive social media presence for marketing leverage. Shopping is topped with interesting editorial elements that include designer bios and even clever seasonal promotions such as a Chinese New Year shop- for-your-sign style guide that reflects Crosswhite’s marketing savvy. Such
“lifestyle” elements are what set the website apart from other online fashion retailers. “I want us to be, for the independent designer, what Net-a-Porter is to luxury fashion,” says Crosswhite.
One can expect to find indie labels such as vintage-inspired Dutch designer Georgine and New York’s cult accessories brand Laruicci, whose glam-rock gems have adorned the likes of Beyonce, Rihanna and Chloe Sevigny. Handmade Italian shoes by Giorgio Fabiani, Formentini and Giancarlo Paoli, all household names in Italy, have also become hits with Gnossem shoppers for their luxurious quality and great prices.
After observing a continuous influx of sales from the US (mostly New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Austin), the Gnossem team decided to focus their marketing efforts and increase spending this year in the US. This February, a “soft launch” event was held at the Maserati showroom
in Manhattan, hot on the heels of New York Fashion Week. It was a showcase of niche Asian fashion labels in New York City, including Singaporean designer Zenchi who scored a recent coup with Naomi Campbell at Digital Fashion Week.
“We opened the Bali Fashion Festival last year and will continue to get involved in fashion festivals around the world whenever we can,” says Crosswhite. “We’ve done events in London and Australia, and we do pop-ups every month in Singapore.” Another plan for 2014 is to enter the Chinese market via a franchisee, with launch plans for Shanghai Fashion Week in April.
Also in the pipeline is a “virtual personal stylist” that sends customers wardrobe suggestions every week. “We have managed
to keep our marketing spend low by doing collaborative promotional events with other brands,” explains Crosswhite. “But with our big push in the US, we need more seed funding.” Gnossem has had 300 per cent sales growth
in its first year of operations and the company aims to hit $40 million in revenue in four years. Not too ambitious for a brand that aims to be the global destination site for niche indie labels.
Founders: Yu Chia min and Letizia Cramer
Business: Luxe swimwear for the style-conscious
Good friends Yu Chia Min and Letizia Cramer got together in 2011 to start a capsule collection of sexy, stylish swimwear that they felt was lacking in Asia. Based in Singapore, the duo began manufacturing their designs in China with fabrics sourced from Europe. Now, three years later, Mileti is selling to web retailer ASOS and its collections are stocked in boutiques of luxury resorts around the world, including Nikki Beach St Tropez, The Banyan Tree Maldives and Bon Genie store in Switzerland. Top buyers hail from from London, the US and China.
While they started out with the ambition
to become a global luxury brand, the duo launched Mileti first in Singapore in 2011, with plans to get the brand in department stores, boutiques and resorts. Some publicity was also done in Switzerland, Cramer’s hometown. “Our business grew slowly and organically,” says
Yu. “Each year, we got bigger players buying our collections. As a start-up, you just have to grow a thick hide and be very out there and persistent. The hardest thing is to get anyone to listen to you and give your things a try.” Tenacious efforts led them to retail agents that got them in the right boutiques and online
retailers such as The Outnet and Bluefly. Mileti has also participated in the annual Miami Swim Show.
In 2013, Mileti introduced the e-commerce element to their website. This year they have moved manufacturing operations from China to Turkey and plan to expand in the US by getting Mileti on major fashion sites such
as Shopbop. “We will be spending more on marketing and PR in the US,” says Yu, who adds that their overall marketing spend is easily 50 per cent of their expense budget. Production will also be ramped up to two collections per year, with the inclusion of resortwear pieces like kaftans and shawls. Mileti’s ultimate goal is to reach $1 million in revenue by 2015 and become a full-fledged resortwear brand.