KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 18 — Last year, global e-commerce sales hit US$1 trillion (RM3.19 trillion) based on a report by eMarketer, a market research company on digital and Internet marketing. Now is the best time to start an online business (if you haven’t already).
Well, Denmark-born Mikkel Bjodstrup and Ozlin Mohd Zin started Hijab2go.com beginning March this year after realising the potential of Muslimah fashion in Malaysia.
Hijab2go.com is the go-to site for Muslimah fashion and halal beauty products, with a collection of 1,200 products from 30 different local designers and suppliers.
Whether you’re looking for a blue shawl or a unique, high-quality jubah for a special occasion, Hijab2go.com offers a wide selection for any budget.
Ozlin Mohd Zin, 34 used to own a tudung (headscarf) online business prior to starting Hijab2go.com. She would source materials and get tailors to custom-make orders, selling the products through social media. Before that, she was part of the corporate world but she took a break after giving birth.
The partnership between Bjodstrup and Ozlin Mohd Zin came at an opportune time because there are only a handful of e-commerce businesses focusing on Muslimah fashion. Also, Bjodstrup has eight years experience as an online entrepreneur.
“We were looking at the industry and we saw that the Muslimah fashion industry is full of opportunities. Ozlin is passionate about fashion and she has knowledge about Muslimah wear because of her experience. The good thing about this market is that Malaysians spend a lot of time and money shopping online,” said Bjodstrup.
The founders of Hijab2go.com feel that it is a really niche market that has been “quite neglected.” Bjodstrup and Ozlin then decided to put their business skills and e-commerce experience to use, starting what Bjodstrup calls “a global marketplace for Muslimah products.”
In the beginning, they only had three suppliers on board, with about 50 to 80 products on the site. Over time, they’ve signed on with more suppliers and designers in a short span of five months. The team grew to 18 employees, some local and some from Europe.
Ranging from RM19 to RM600, customers can easily search on the site for the type of shawl they want in whatever colour and style. One can spend hours and hours going through these one-of-a-kind products.
“Our collection includes plain shawls and shawls made of premium silk from Cambodia,” said Bjodstrup. Hijab2go.com works with a social enterprise that hires local tailors in Cambodia to sew the shawls. The tailors are women who are victims of sex trafficking.
“We believe in empowering Muslimah enterprises, building their businesses online,” said the 28-year-old entrepreneur.
During Raya this year, Hijab2go.com also did fundraising events with an underprivileged community in Rawang.
“We really want to give back to the community,” he said.
Currently, the suppliers on the platform are based in Klang Valley but Bjodstrup plans to expand the business to Brunei and Indonesia. In the near future, there are plans to have a presence in Dubai as well.
The response to Hijab2go.com has been tremendous, remarked Bjodstrup. The team will be sourcing for more supplier nationwide.
The business model for Hijab2go.com is simple. If you want to have your products featured on the site, you just have to pay a small fee as a commitment and Hijab2go.com will provide marketing, shipping, customers service and advertising of the products.
Hijab2go.com also leverages on social media to have personal contact with customers. It’s a win-win situation for small boutique suppliers and the company.
One of the things in the pipeline for Hijab2go.com is to have brand ambassadors, designers and celebrity sponsorship.
“We want to have a certain credibility and have something to show them before starting anything. Our mission is to have an exciting story to tell,” said Bjodstrup.
“Hijab2go.com wants to deliver happiness and embrace everyone who are willing to share this journey with us. We want to give something to our customers, adding extra value all the time,” he said.
This story was first published in Crave in the print edition of The Malay Mail on October 17, 2013.