This is a follow up story for East Meets Dress. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published almost 3 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
Hi, I’m Vivian and I’m one of the co-founders of East Meets Dress. We’re the first modern fashion company to modernize Chinese wedding dresses (known as cheongsams or qipaos) and bring more Asian-American representation and inclusion to the traditional wedding industry.
We combine contemporary cultural designs, quality craftsmanship, and a dedicated customer experience to help brides celebrate their culture in style.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
At the beginning of 2020, we were on track to have the biggest growth we’ve seen for our business, but then COVID hit and for a good few months the wedding industry was completely halted. Things have picked back up since then, but all of this definitely hampered our growth and revenue projections for the year. Nonetheless, we were able to streamline many parts of our business and focus more on long-term growth strategies knowing that eventually, weddings will be back in season. Ultimately, we were able to end 2020 better than any previous year of our company history in both revenue and net profits.
We brought on a new fulfillment associate to help us with packaging and shipping customer orders and doubled down on SEO even more during COVID since it’s one of our most effective growth strategies and naturally takes longer to see the effects of. Consequently, we paused a bit of our ad spend during COVID and most of our traffic now comes organically, which is a big reason why our net profits have gone up.
We’ve also partnered with influencers like Asian Boss Girls that are more catered to our niche market and demographics to sponsor a podcast, YouTube video, and social media giveaway.
We launched a new collection and upgraded a lot of our photography on our site and are working on expanding our product line to feature Vietnamese wedding dresses (known as Ao Dais).
Despite everything that’s happened in 2020, we’re super excited to see what this new year brings!
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
Focus on what you can control. Even when everything around you seems to be falling apart and unpredictable, there are still many things in your life and your business that you can control and do. For example, you can always write more blog posts, create new content, marketing campaigns, etc. You can always make processes more streamlined and efficient.
You don’t need to start posting on every single social media platform or launch a million products at once. Instead, double down on the one or two channels that work best.
Be creative and resourceful. One of the things I love the most about being an entrepreneur is that you have to be scrappy and resourceful to succeed. That’s always been part of our DNA. We had our very first pop-up event in early 2020 that was very successful and we thought that this would be something that we would be doing regularly. After COVID hit, we quickly pivoted to online Zoom virtual bridal appointments and hosted an IG live virtual pop-up.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
- Increase our product offerings to beyond just Chinese wedding dresses. Think of ways we can continue to serve our existing base of Asian American consumers and their needs.
- Increase our international customer base and presence. We’ve been seeing a lot of brides reach out to us from Canada, Australia, etc.
- Continue to focus on streamlining our business processes and efficiency. We want EMD to be a sustainable, profitable business for the long haul.
Have you read any good books in the last year?
Smart People Should Build Things by Andrew Yang – The premise of this book is essentially all in the title. I found it inspiring for those who are interested in starting their own businesses but might be too afraid or risk-averse as well as reassuring for current entrepreneurs that progress is often made by those willing to go out and create value for others.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
Growing a business is a marathon –at the end of the day, most of the entrepreneurs who succeed are the ones who didn’t give up and outlasted everyone else. Most people have the attention span and patience of a puppy so work on cultivating being patient and persistent.
One of my favorite quotes from the book Atomic Habits is, “When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow, it will split in two, and I know it was not that last blow that did it—but all that had gone before.”
Don’t try to do everything at once. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with everything you have to/want to do, slim down your priorities to the ones that will truly help move the needle. You don’t need to start posting on every single social media platform or launch a million products at once. Instead, double down on the one or two channels that work best.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We’re always looking for freelance content writers who are interested in writing about Asian American traditions, weddings, etc.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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