Drawing from her experience in private equity and finance, Divya Hira founded www.divyahira.com, an online fashion boutique that showcases a selection of handpicked independent and ethical designers from around the globe.
The entrepreneur shares her insights on how to start a fashion business in Hong Kong -- grappling with challenges both online and offline.
Divyahira.com is an online shopping experience that features only ethical and fair trade goods -- from the designer's table to your doorstep. Here, trendsetters can shop emerging indie designers all over the world, as well as Divya’s very own clothing brand.
A FEW WORDS OF ADVICE
Find your rhythm
It's so easy to work under someone and be directed -- you're told what to do every day. When you're on your own, you need to master everything across the board.
Every day, you're facing a new situation. The hardest part is to maintain your cool -- it's so easy to be overwhelmed with everything that's going on and with so many things to do.
Flex your business plans
The thing about startups is that when you have a business plan, nothing really goes according to plan.
When I first started, I had a vision for things to be a certain way, but over the years, I have tweaked it and molded my business into something completely different.
My biggest lesson is to be adaptable to different changes. Sometimes when you have a vision in your head, you can be reluctant to change anything, but the best thing to do is to think: How could this be more useful for me?
Grow thicker skin
The best advice I've heard was from my father, grandfather and my husband -- it’s funny, they're all older men working in manufacturing in Hong Kong.
They are all extremely resilient, so no matter what they are faced with, they won't give up. They tell me to keep persisting no matter how many naysayers you come across.
Keep being resilient and have a thick skin.
Plan a test drive
No matter what it is, now matter how big or small your business idea may be, try it out.
As women, we often have a fear of trying new things sometimes -- we tend to overthink. I would say just go for it.
Things don't have to be perfect at first. Tweak things along the way and learn as you go.
Save that paper
We are very cost conscious as a start-up and we outsource a lot of roles, as it's a lot cheaper. For example, I have a web developer in South Africa, and marketing managers based in Peru and Barcelona.
A FEW MORE QUESTIONS
How do you unwind?
I unwind with my sisters and a hot cup of tea. Every woman needs people to talk to and I confide in my sisters and my mom, over tea and lunch.
What is your go-to power breakfast?
I make my husband and myself a power smoothie every morning -- it consists of beetroot and all of the vegetables I could possibly find the day before at the market.
I always include spinach. It's important to have a good variety of antioxidants and vitamins. If I have time, I'll either make scrambled eggs or smashed avocado on toast.
What are your favorite apps or tools for productivity?
I use Trello, a project management tool. It's online based, which is great because you never lose your work and you can access it anywhere in the world.
I downloaded an app on my computer which is a mind map -- I’m a very visual learner, so it’s perfect for me.
Where are your favorite meeting spots?
I also love Ovo Cafe, it’s vegetarian and it's great to see that Hong Kong is really expanding the vegetarian scene.
Any parting words?
I think everything should be a learning experience. If you don't fail, or fall on your face, then you’re not learning. Regrets are learning experiences, and we should embrace them.