- Adding a personal touch to designerwear
Asheni Gamage (26) comes from a family where pretty much everyone is involved in business. Growing up around all this business chatter motivated her to start a brand of her own, inspired by the idea of being an independent woman. Ever since she was a child, she adores all things fashionable, and starting a clothing line had been a dream of hers since she was 10-years-old, so she combined her knowledge of fashion and business and launched her brand Alùra by Asheni.
Everything in her clothing line, from the material to the final product is all made and manufactured locally, as Asheni believes in sustainability and thinks it’s a very important aspect of any fashion brand. Asheni said that whenever possible, they try to use renewable materials like linen and silk and they avoid using leather at all costs. She added: “Our new collection is mostly designs that are made using linen and organic cotton. We try to minimise the overall environmental damage caused by our pieces.”
When talking about the design process, Asheni told us that she has a very close hand in the design, materials and process. She offers the option of customisation, where the customer will provide their specific measurements and designs, and Asheni will bring it to life. “This has given me an added advantage since girls like unique pieces of clothing,” she stated, when talking about what makes her brand unique.
If not custom pieces, Asheni will select the prints and fabric she likes on a pre-order basis, which, of course, is locally designed and manufactured. Her inspiration mostly stems from style icons like Camilla Cabello, Shay Mitchell and many more.
Asheni also told us that in order to add a personal touch to the brand, and ensure the clients that she will be involved in their clothes, she handles the social media pages as well, “Because of this, I have a very close relationship with my customers.”
She added: “I being the owner, I personally respond to all my online orders regardless how busy I can get. I make sure I respond to their messages and I try to give them a really good service and I have a lot of positive feedback regarding the unique friendly service I provide to my customers.”
On the topic, she told us that her customer feedback has been good. As with any business, she has had good days and bad days. As mentioned before, she takes her customers’ feedback to heart, “If they aren’t happy with the final product make sure I take their advice and I try to look at it as constructive criticism. Or if they have issues regarding sizes I make sure I exchange the items to the size that fits them.”
She told us that she has learned a lot through her customers and thanks to them hee business is still surviving. For her, the goal is to make them feel comfortable and build their trust. “I make sure I respond to each and every one of my customers and that has helped me gain closure to my customers and they feel comfortable talking to me directly about their designs,” she added.
When talking about challenges she faced, she added that it is mostly to do with sizes, Sometimes the clothes don’t fit the customer – it can either be too big or too small since they can’t really fit on the final product before purchasing, so if it comes to that I make sure that I exchange the product to the right size. She added that they cater to all markets and body types.
With the Covid-19 situation, they had to face many challenges as any business did.
She commented: “During the peak Covid-19 time, I reduced prices for all my items because I had to think of the financial situation of the customers while having to balance my staff as well.” They also had a lot of discounts and offers which helped them get through the tough times during the lockdown.
When you do an online business it can be very challenging. There is so much fraud happening in online shopping and that has definitely affected the online business. “So gaining customer trust was our number one goal and also to make them feel comfortable in purchasing our products by giving them a very friendly service.”
So far, her products are available in Colombo at WH and in Kandy at Mangala Tex. She has a dream of opening her own store, which she plans to engage in soon. She also has a plan to export her items overseas. She is currently working on their website that can reach overseas markets too.