Ready-to-wear is a term used for a clothing business, based on creativity, using its own label, and is a growing trend among young people.
Felix was one of the participants in the 2014 Innovative Business Plan Competition conducted by the Business Development Institute (IADE) under the Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs (MECAE). The competition initiative is also supported by the International Labour Organization (ILO) through its Business Opportunities and Support Services (BOSS) Project.
Jointly funded by Irish Aid and NZAID, the ILO-BOSS project works in partnership with IADE to deliver business development services to micro, small and medium enterprises, unlock business opportunities by developing functional value chains in specific sectors and promote better coordination and alignment of private sector initiatives.
Before joining the competition, he experienced business failure in 2011. All of the capital he had saved from his previous work while going to college, as well as the money he received from his family, was gone.
“My family is not rich. They were so furious when I lost the US$2,300 capital to fund the business. It was a lot of money for my family,” said Felix, who continued his studies at New Media University, Bali, Indonesia.
This training and business counselling really opened my knowledge about business, broadened my network and strengthened my determination to seriously pursue my clothing business."
Failure did not make the oldest of seven siblings lose hope. Instead, it made him more motivated and determined to develop a clothing business in Timor-Leste. TFeo earn new capital, he worked at a printing company while planning and initiating his clothing business.
“I saved my salary. I also took a side job printing t-shirts. Together with a friend, I designed an attractive business brand. I decided to use ‘Hare’, which means paddy, with products that present contemporary designs from Timorese culture and tourism,” said Felix.
To make his dream come true, he developed a business proposal with the intent to secure an investor or a loan from government institutions or banks.
“While I was thinking how to get start-up capital, by chance IADE was printing a receipt for the Innovative Business Plan Competition at the printing company where I worked. I said to myself, this is it my way to start my business,” he recalled.
Felix immediately submitted his design portfolio to IADE. Although he did not win the competition, his clothing idea was selected as one of the Top 10, and he was awarded business counselling and capital to purchase the printing equipment needed.
This single guy admits that the training and business counselling he received were beneficial in building a better clothing business.
“I learned about business plans and marketing strategy. I also learned how to manage the book keeping,” said Felix.
“This training and business counselling really opened my knowledge about business, broadened my network and strengthened my determination to seriously pursue my clothing business,” he added.
Using the initial capital from IADE, with additional capital from his family, Felix started to build Hare Cloth Apparel. Every month, Hare launches a new shirt design that is limited production of 200 t-shirts. These t-shirts are distributed to several shopping malls, such as Timor Plaza, at US$ 10 each. Hare also accepts orders from government institutions and communities for special events.
At this young age, I want to expand my business. My target is to open my own outlet and to expand my production line by producing bags and shoes."
To boost sales, Felix also makes the best use of social media channels through Facebook and Twitter, as well as word-of-mouth. To date, his business turnover has risen 40 per cent per month, and in July 2015 reached 70 per cent. The number of employees has also increased from seven to 10, with three of them designers.
“I am now looking for a bigger place due to increased orders. I need a place to store raw materials and equipment,” said Felix who acts as the head designer of Hare, adding that the new place will integrate a marketing office, production and storage.
Through this business, Felix, who was born in Dili, is now able to pay his brothers’ college tuition and build a home for his family. But, he does not stop dreaming.
“At this young age, I want to expand my business. My target is to open my own outlet and to expand my production line by producing bags and shoes,” he said.
He also wishes his business can create job opportunities for Timorese youth.
“I like to hang out with my friends and other youth to share and exchange ideas about the clothing business. I am not afraid of the competition, as the most important thing now is how the clothing business can grow in this country,” he said.
The article was written by Valdemar de Sa e Silva and Cornelis Bareto, staff of the Business Development Institute (IADE) under the Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs (MECAE)