Monday, 10 September 2012

The Juice Market story



The Juice Market is my online store for those of you who don't know. Many of you asked me to do a blog post on how I started TJM and I thought it would be interesting to blog about it.

My friend and I started a blogshop called wonderstruckkk on livejournal but because we had different ways of working, we decided to part ways(only for the blogshop, we are still very good friends now!!) and that was when I decided to start my own online store, THE JUICE MARKET.

I started it in June 2009 by myself on livejournal. The name was derived from really random things. I was a fan of this american online store then, called Pixie Market and I was very inspired by them on the variety of  clothes which really made it seem like a "clothes market", and so happened I was reading local magazine, JUICE. So, I just decided to combine the names, and named it JUICE MARKET. (Very anyhow right, but thank God it's pretty catchy)

With the help of my sister's friend who was a photographer, he did my very first collection photoshoot with two white cloths and a white wall at his place. I was on budget then so I think he charged me like only $10 per hour? 

Here's a picture from TJM's first collection!

I was only 18 years old so I didn't know shit about putting on proper make up and poses but I just gave it a shot. I wanted to model myself to save money on hiring models too! Bear in mind, I was a penniless 18 years old girl and I didn't ask my parents for a single cent for start-up so I was on a very very tight budget.

Of course, there were times when things screwed up like getting stood up by my photographer just 2 hours before my shoot so I had to settle for my bestfriend's rooftop terrace for a NIGHT shoot.

LOL POSING WITH A MOP, WHAT WERE WE THINKING??!!!


I am somewhat a perfectionist so I kept finding ways to improve on every aspect of TJM, and also TJM was gradually getting more popular so I had bigger financial ability to pay for more professional stuff. So I moved to several studios for photoshoots, and even read up and youtube-d on model poses, learnt to use more props and started doing proper banner pictures. 

Many of my friends always asked me why do I sell only 10 designs per collection when other blogshops sell 30 per collection and my answer is always " I'd rather make lesser money than to sell mediocre clothes which I'm forcing myself to just to fill up the collection" and I still stand by it till now. It may not appeal to some people but that's my principle for TJM. 

Of course, I want to make money from TJM but I just think it's useless to sell clothes which I find is not nice, and tarnishes TJM rep too.

TJM continued to grow bigger and bigger only through the word of mouth. I didn't use to believe in paid advertorials because I wanted people to spread the word only if they like the products. That was quality to me. I didn't want to pay some bloggers money just to praise TJM superficially. I wanted something from the heart. But of course, over time I realised advertorials help people who don't know about TJM discover it and when they like it, they would spread it sincerely to their friends like how I'd really like it. If you realise, TJM still hasn't done a lot of bloggers advertorials.
Only did it on Tammy's, Rachel's and Mae's blog!

TJM was going well until mid 2010 when sales kept plunging so I had to find another job to maintain TJM. I didn't want to close TJM down because it was a part of me already. So I got a job at Sogurt to fuel TJM's collections which gradually picked up over time. It was really tiring to juggle between school, Sogurt and TJM but I'm really really glad Daniel was with me the whole time and he's been nothing but my pillar of strength and support. I remember I even had to borrow $xxxx from my mum so I could pick TJM up again :/ glad this phase is over!!



Then came December 2010 which was the birth of TJM's swimwear label : JUICESEA
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think TJM was the first local blogshop/online store to start a new swimwear line. What bred Juicesea was of course, my love for swimwear. I love the beach so I love swimwear but I could never find swimwear that I liked at an affordable price so it hit me an idea to start a swimwear line with bold and beautiful designs suitable for both beaches and swimming pools at pocket-friendly prices. 

It wasn't easy finding a swimwear manufacturer, settling on the right material, and making sure I don't go too absurd with the designs. I had to bear in mind the conservative minds of Singaporeans but the risk-taking teenagers. And I definitely didn't feel very comfortable modelling for swimwear but I did it anyway!

The name "Juicesea" was suggested by Daniel, and I thought it was really meaningful so I heeded his suggestion, and TADAH......birth of my first label!! 


This was JUICESEA's very first swimwear design which sold like hotcakes!! *phew
Viewing final sample for JUICESEA4 tomorrow (:
SIGN UP FOR MAILING LIST IF YOU HAVEN'T!! I promise you JUICESEA4 is gorgeous!!

2011
That year was another breakthrough for TJM as we held our very first fashion show in Zouk in collaboration with Sogurt's one year anniversary! You have no idea how excited I was when I got the news. Went for my very first sourcing trip overseas with my dad and bestie (2 separate trips in a month) to prepare for fashion show, scouted for models whom till date I'm still so damn thankful for.

Preparing for a fashion show was hell of a job and I had to handle everything almost single-handedly. From costumes and matching, to finding and emailing tons of models, to sourcing shoes sponsor for my models, to getting a hair and makeup stylist and ended up doing the models' make up myself(cos my make up artist was late and only turned up 10 mins before fashion show -.- mad pissed that night), and doing a shoot for all 10 models for pre-promo advert, and dealing with late-coming model. I even forgot to do a mix for the fashion show music that Silas had to rush it out for me on the afternoon itself just hours before the show, and I had zero clue about catwalk choreography but thank God for Aaron(one of the models who was a professional model) who choreographed my entire catwalk. 

In retrospect, I really have to thank every single one who contributed to the fashion show cos if not for them it'd have been a mess. It was such a success thanks to them. The applause that night and smiles of contentment on the audience's faces is something I'll never wipe off my mind. 

Some pictures of the fashion show (:


Collette!


My two male models who both happen to be Aaron


End of the show, don't know why I look so kp.


Shahirah!


Eunice! She opened the fashion show and she had so much swag on! So many of my friends told me it was the right choice to put her as the first model.



Through the fashion show, launch of more swimwear, better quality photos, better modeling poses, moving to a .com domain, constantly trying to be friendlier with my customers online and provide better cs, TJM escalated and became what it is today!

It might not be as big and established like big names like HVV or Love, Bonito but someday I hope it will eventually reach that level. Running an online store is not easy, but it's never too hard for the determined ones. If you're looking to start an online store, find a niche and never say die. Be prepared to give your all, burn midnight oil, get scolded by unreasonable customers, be put under stress and deadlines that you find yourself crying not once not twice but many times, having to launch collections or do a shoot when you're sick, face your laptop and do work non-stop for as long as 10 hours a day. 

I'm not complaining because the fruit that you bear one day will make you look back and say "it's all worth the hard work". The experience you get out of it , the different types of people you meet from this walk of life, and the lessons you learn that schools/books don't teach are priceless.  

There will also be fun times to work! Like my recent shoot with Donna at her new studio!!


*vroom vroom*


*omg omg there's a car coming we need to move the "house"!!!!*


Hadache from my sore eyes. Did a 2 hours shoot with an eye infection which was damn bloody painful especially with flashlights flashing at my eyes non-stop. 
I'M NOT SAYING YOU HAVE TO MAKE SUCH SACRIFICES FOR OWNING A BLOGSHOP BUT WHAT I'M SAYING IS SOMETIMES THINGS LIKE THAT JUST HAPPEN AND YOU'VE GOT NO CHOICE.
 It got so red and painful after the shoot I had to see a doctor the next day!

Here's how bad it was...

Sorry if the picture freaked you out :/


And that's just me goofing around!

I recently also went on a work trip alone for the first time! I usually had company but I decided to go alone this time. Shall blog about it next (: It will also be a mini guide to BKK!

I hope this blog post gives you a deeper understanding of how running an online store is like, how TJM was born and established. 
You can ask me any questions on my formspring : http://www.formspring.me/sophiachong
I'll try to answer those I can!

Hope you enjoyed the post (: 

Lots of love,
Sophia

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