by LEE Yi Ling
Special Guest: Tan Jialing
Founder of Summer Glitz & Instructor at Garden of Wisdom
Summer Glitz, an online business founded in 2010, is a clothing brand catered for women. Since 2011, the brand started to include maternity and baby clothing. The founder, Tan Jialing, decided to keep up with times and instill new elements into the brand to seek new breakthroughs for her already stable business.
Tan graduated as a civil engineer, but the 9-to-5 routined work life was not what she had been longing for. As a result, she started searching for a new passion. Inspired by her husband’s past experience in online business, Tan decided to follow her will and embarked on a journey as an entrepreneur.
Malaysia is a country with year-round tropical climate, which had encouraged Tan to kickstart her business by selling summer clothing. She wanted her customers to unveil a woman’s inner confidence when wearing clothes that she sells, thus, the word “Glitz”, which means glittery was chosen as part of the brand name. The brand “Summer Glitz” was then formed!
In the early days of her business, Tan had no basics about online marketing. Processes such as product sourcing in China, communication with manufacturers, logistics arrangements and more were learned from scratch. At that time, Tan had just become a mother. She had to play the roles of a caretaker and an entrepreneur without holding much expectation for her business. At the same time, she tried to remain optimistic. During the first six months, Tan’s business was supported by her friends. It was only after half a year that she managed to close her first deal with a new client other than her friends. Throughout the period, she took her time to build up her business committedly.
After launching the maternity and nursing products, Summer Glitz began to gain consumers’ attention in the market, and the business gradually improved. As a mother, Tan felt that breastfeeding was not an easy task. In her opinion, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers should look attractive like other women. Back then, there were limited choices of nursing blouse; what was available in the market was not able to satisfy the tastes and needs of the consumers. Therefore, Tan decided to launch a series of maternity and nursing attire, offering beautiful, high quality and reasonably-priced clothing, which is also a principle that she holds on to.
To Tan, the biggest advantages she has gained from her new career are the flexible working hours and the convenient nature of working online. However, from replying her customers, to placing orders, packing products and inspecting stocks, everything is done by her independently, and all of these tasks require a great amount of energy.
The Ups and Downs
In 2013, due to financial limitation of her business, Tan invited her husband, Mr. Cheong KM to join her onboard. There was no definite segregation of responsibility between the two as both of them aspired to bring the best out of Summer Glitz.
In 2014, Summer Glitz hit its peak. Yet, due additional staff employed for tax-related matters in the following year, the company’s expenses increased. On top of that, the brand also faced competition from other merchants which affected their sales. As a results, Tan decided to establish her own brand – Mi & Bi Moments. The brand aimed to offer custom-designed clothing and accessories that are fashionable and comfortable, with all the products produced under Tan’s personal supervision to ensure their high quality and cost effectiveness. In the meantime of controlling the product quality, the price of Summer Glitz’s products were also governed to offer a better bargain. This would allow customers to enjoy the most cost-effective and stylish clothing, providing an additional option for pregnant women or lactating mothers.
Nonetheless, after investing a huge amount of fund and time into the business, and personally selecting the materials, manufacturers, colours, designs, etc., the products were not well received in the market. In 2017, Summer Glitz had problem with cash flow, which led to Tan’s intention of giving up the business. Yet, after some coordination and the generation of a new business plan with her husband, she decided to rebrand Summer Glitz. She dropped the idea of establishing the new brand, Mi & Bi Moments, and chose to make a comeback for Summer Glitz, a brand which has gained familiarity in the past.
In 2018, Tan reintroduced Summer Glitz to the market as a brand that offers simple and comfortable styles for consumers to choose from. In September of the same year, Tan participated in an interview at the first Chinese business radio station in Malaysia named “CITYPlus FM” to share her online business experience with the listeners.
Tan believes that what is taken from the society should be shared in the interests of the public. Therefore, she repaid the society by donating to Hospis Malaysia and World Vision Malaysia under the name of Summer Glitz. She hoped that her limited yet kind gestures would help to illuminate the lives of the less fortunate groups.
Being True to Herself
It is Tan’s ambition since young to run a boutique, but her aspiration was limited by a realistic problem – money constraint. Nonetheless, from the feedback she has been receiving from her customers, she understands that they have always wished to physically feel the materials and try the outfits before finalising their purchase. Therefore, the idea of opening a boutique sprouted in her mind again. Tan plans open a retail store in the future to operate her online and offline business concurrently to offer the best retail experience to her customers.
Tan’s husband, who has been supporting her alongside, has brought much impact to the business. There are times when boundaries seem vague between both parties or expectations are not met due to the high hopes they impose on each other. However, they try to compromise constantly. Cheong is someone who sees things from a broad perspective and has swift execution; Tan, on the other hand, pays attention to details but takes time to implement. Despite having dissimilar personalities, it is those differences which have allowed them to complement each other in life and at work.
On the journey of her entrepreneurship, there have been various encounterments and insights gained from different aspects. Tan has no regret in giving up her profession as an engineer and embarking on the path of a startup. She wishes to always be true to herself, accept herself and also accept others for who they are.