Fabulous Mom was founded in July 2004 when our founder, Vivian Foo wanted to earn pocket money while staying at home with son, Eugene.
Read the full story written by Tan Su-Yin during an interview with Personal Money in 2005 here:
Foo, 26, had no technology or programming knowledge when she decided to start an Internet business. She didn't even know which version of Windows her computer ran on.
What she did know was that she wanted to spend more time at home with her toddler, Eugene. And she had to do it with as little capital as possible.
Her initial target was to receive about RM800 a month - "enough for pocket money", she says. In slightly over a year, her Internet business - FabulousMom.com, which sells breastfeeding and maternity wares - is generating profits that surpass her previous salary.
"For five years, I was a marketing executive for a firm selling LCD projectors," she says. "When I wanted to spend more time at home with my son, I explored several options. But I didn't have knowledge about anything besides selling LCD projectors and I didn't have the capital to set up such a company."
Then, Foo read a book that advised her to find a business with a ready pool of customers. Her passion about breastfeeding had led her to actively support breastfeeding activities and online breastfeeding forum MyMomsBest.com. So, she thought about selling nursing bras at an affordable price.
She decided on Internet for her business because it fit the bill of "as little capital as possible". It enabled her to set up shop with as little as RM400 a year for web hosting and domain fees.
But Foo hit a snag when it came to the wares she wanted to sell. "I thought about bringing in imported bras, but after contacting several suppliers, I realised that it would cost a bomb and I'd have to price it very high, which defeats the purpose."
So, she got quotations from several local undergarment manufacturers to produce her own line of nursing bras. Their reply: A minimum order of 5,000 pieces per design.
With belief in herself, support from her husband Ryan Sia, and money that was supposed to be spent on a new car, Foo bravely made the move in June last year. She found a factory willing to produce a smaller quantity of 2,000 per design, and made an initial order for four designs. Today, apart from her own label of nursing bras, she also markets other goods.
Having spent most of her funds on stock, Foo skimped on everything else. She and her husband did the design for the packaging. Foo learnt about online business from online tutorials. "I only go for freebies," she grins. She learnt HTML web programming language herself with the help of an IT consultant friend and another friend, Chan Lilian, who runs the breastfeeding forum.
The first few months were all work and little money. And keeping vigil at the computer waiting for orders to flow in wouldn't do. "I placed some advertisements in a breastfeeding forum but realised that you can't just do marketing over the Internet," she says. "Ryan and I went around to gynaecological clinics asking permission to place our leaflets there. I attended breastfeeding roadshows to promote my products. Because of my passion for breastfeeding, I also did some phone counselling and home visits and it has indirectly paid off for the business."
The reluctance for people to buy online was a hurdle. "People are still not comfortable with buying online; they want to see the product," Foo says. "So, in the beginning, I would drive across town just to show one bra, even as far as Rawang. But the pricing is reasonable, so people are willing to try, even if they don't know the brand."
Prices for her nursing bras start from RM29.90, less than half of what branded nursing bras typically cost.
She also expanded offline, appointing resellers to market her product. At first, they were individuals and small businesses. But one day, baby products retailer Babyland Sdn Bhd called, enquiring about promoting her products at its stores. "I screamed at my husband, "can you guess who just called?" she recalls with glee.
With that in the bag, Foo became more daring and approached more resellers. Appointing resellers for her products has helped the business grow and today, revenue from them exceeds that of the online sales.
The website receives about 60 orders a month and enquiries from the US, Canada and Australia. Foo has also secured one sale from the US and several from Australia and Indonesia, despite not having online payment facility. Today, with 10 bra designs and a little more funds, Foo wants to take FabulousMom.com to another level, including upgrading the site and adding an online payment option. And she no longer has to traipse around town delivering orders.
Has she achieved her objective? "Yes," says Foo, who is expecting her second child next March. Instead of sitting in rush-hour traffic, she spends most mornings giving little Eugene his breakfast and morning bath.