Hi Michelle Chu, thank you for doing this interview. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Hi there, I’m Michelle. Thank you so much for having me. I am 29 years old and a soon-to-be mother of 3! I lived in Perth, Australia for 15 years and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Neuroscience and an MBA degree. I came back to Malaysia, got married, fell pregnant and started my own business.
What inspired you to set up Jae Ko Designs and how did you start up your business?
I started looking for the dream diaper bag but could not find one ticked all the boxes. So, I started doing a little research online and had some fun designing my own take of a great stylish yet practical diaper bag and viola, Jae Ko Designs was born.
What are the challenges you faced when setting up Jae Ko Designs and how did you overcome them?
It was rather challenging at the start because I have never started up a company before, I have no background in design and I’m no expert in fashion, but one thing is I love researching and looking up trends. Everything was quite overwhelming as I had no partners or a staff team, so it was all done solo – from the product design and development, sourcing suppliers, packaging, social media, you name it.
Finding manufacturers in China on my own was very daunting. There was the language barrier, some of the factories were very far from the main cities, and most importantly, I had to find the right and high quality materials. I went through about seven or eight manufacturers before I found the right one so that took quite a bit of time. After getting everything on track and ready to launch Jae Ko, I decided to hire help for logistics and marketing.
Can you tell us more about the range of products Jae Ko Designs offers?
Our initial line-up consist of our best-seller the Original Diaper Bag, Mini Bag and Tote Bag. We have then expanded and diversified our product range into baby sleepwear – our Organic Cotton Baby Knotted Gowns. We are also designing more types of vegan leather diaper bags and bringing in cute tableware soon so stay tuned!
Do you have any favourite memories or stories about connecting your products with customers?
I don’t really have a particular favourite memory because we pride ourselves with quality customer service. We connect with each and every customer by helping them choose a bag and colour according to their sense of style and needs, guiding them on what to pack and how to organise their diaper bags efficiently, and just getting to know them and develop a small bond with them. We love seeing them share what they pack in their bags, how they wear and style their bags on their feed!
You are an inspiring mumpreneur. If you could give any advice to our readers looking at starting a business, what would it be?
It actually took me about 2 years to launch Jae Ko Designs because I was so afraid of failing. I always asked myself, “Can I do it?”, “What if it doesn’t sell?”, “What if it’s not good enough?” etc. There was a lot of fear, uncertainty and doubt, because it is quite scary to start your own business. However, if you have a dream to start your own business, my advice would be to take a leap of faith. It’s okay to be anxious but don’t let it overwhelm you. Do your research, set your goals, believe in yourself and your business.
Finally, what can we expect to see from you and Jae Ko Designs brand in the near future?
From me, another little Jae Ko baby popping out in April! She will definitely be featured in our social media. As for our brand, you can expect new products in our line-up this year ☺