Chalita Hongsakul & Ornwassa Siamseranee

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Waking Bee is a brand of feminine sportswear that wants to motivate and inspire women to a healthy lifestyle through pretty and comfortable gear. Co-owned and led by best friends Chalita Hongsakul & Ornwassa Siamseranee, with the support of their partners, is a much welcome addition to Bangkok’s fitness world and an increasingly popular choice among the city’s health-conscious crowd.

“What matters is that you understand your customers and you are honest to them. Our motto is to only produce something that we would buy ourselves”

  • “I used to work as a management consultant and before as an investment banker, so all I did was work. Last year I decided to live better and part of that was to start exercising. The first question that came to me was, ‘What do I wear?’. I looked around and I couldn’t find anything that I could relate to. There are very sporty outfits, which I couldn’t relate to because I don’t see myself as a sporty person. Some lines are too revealing and then there are others that I sort of like but they are imported and very expensive. So in the end I gave up and just wore a t-shirt and shorts. But I realized that wearing something flattering or something you feel confident in, can really motivate you to work out more. So I started talking to friends about creating sportswear and here we are. I was too scared to start it on my own and they were crazy enough to come along.”
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  • “What has been the most difficult thing so far?” Striking a balance between scale and risk to be able to offer the product and quality that we were comfortable with. Not all factories know how to make sportswear and those that do require larger volumes for their orders. A lot of times we had to make a trade-off and decide what item to produce more of. At first we though we would need only two collections a year but our customers came back to us much faster. Going to the gym is a bit of a social thing and people change sportswear more often than we thought. So that has implications on our production. Before we ordered large quantities, but now we have do it more often and adjust the production cycle.”
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“We started selling last March (2015). We sell online mainly through Instagram and LINE. We have paypal setup on our site but people prefer to contact us on LINE and chat a bit. They appreciate some human interaction. We also sell on one of the larger e-commerce platforms. We want to have a physical location, so now we place some of our items in yoga and fitness studios.  It gives us additional exposure and it also helps target people that want to “touch & feel” an item and try it on before making their first purchase.”
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“What matters is that you understand your customers and you are honest to them. Our motto is to only produce something that we would buy ourselves. Also, trust needs to be earned so if we can’t do something, we won’t do it. We provide advice on size and style and if we think something won’t fit, we are honest about it.” 
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“A word of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?” “If you feel that it’s right, just do it. Don’t think about it for too long. You wont get the perfect answer. Because of our background in consulting, we thought about our business model too much. But business is not meant to be risk-free and overthinking is not going to help you. You need to do enough thinking and ground research but things can’t just play in your head, you need to physically go and talk to people, and test things.”

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