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Designing businesses

When starting a business, it’s not all about your intelligence and wealth; your imagination can be the most powerful tool of all. In today’s competitive job market, the advantage often goes to those who can out-imagine and out-create their peers.

Sophean, a 30-year-old Cambodian woman who finished her training course in tailoring in 2001, began her career as a designer with French and Thai Companies. “I like designing and creating new things that are different from others,” she said. “I think it shows my own talent, and I believe that if we commit to showing our own talent we will eventually see successful results,” she added.

After four years with a Japanese company, Sophean decided to start her own business and be a designer at her own shop, called Tom and Alice, because she wanted to profit from her own achievements. “I don’t want to work just to work. I want to make my own business,” she said.

“I think it is important to do my own designs because some companies imitate popular fashions, yet my ideas and my new creations keep coming,” Sophean said.

To make their businesses reach a consistent market, designers must create styles that fit their clientele’s tastes. “Different people have different interests, so making the clothes that fit with their body and their desires is important. Cambodians like wearing traditional clothes, but foreigners like wearing clothes that are made from cool cotton and look very simple,” Sophean said.

“The customer is king”, as the business saying goes, so providing quality design products is not enough on its own; customer service is also crucial. “We provide our customers the quality goods and services because it is one strategy to keep a good relationship with our customers” Sophean said.

“If shops ignore their customers, I won’t give them my business. I am not afraid to choose the more expensive design shops if they can offer me a dress that fits with my body and has good service.” said Som Kongkea, a fourth-year student at RULE. “I don’t care how attractive the dress is; if they cannot offer me good service, I will choose another shop.”

To create a quality product, you only need to follow your own sense of style. “I like foreign styles, and I like making the simple and nice-looking clothes,” said Sophean. “The clothes are plain and not so colourful, but you feel good when you put them on your body.”

After three years of running her own design business, Sophean’s shop is now quite popular, especially among foreigners who make up 90 percent of her business. Sophean is now planning to expand her business and give opportunities to young Cambodians from orphanages or other organisations to work with her. “I really want to share my knowledge and my experience with them. They have few chances for success, but it doesn’t mean they have no ability,” she said.

“It does not take only a day to reach success. If you plan to do something, do it until you find success. If the people around you can walk faster than you, you should walk two steps; if you are still slower, run!” Sophean advised.

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