“The first two years was mostly fun. We didn’t do much planning, didn’t have much structure. We started with 5 people and once we got enough customers and started exporting, that’s when we began doing things the proper way. That’s when it felt, ‘This is real, it’s going to be a real job.’ But the difficult thing was that none of us had previous work experience so we had to learn everything by doing. We were lucky because at that time there were lots of initiatives to support young designers in Thailand, so we went to a lot of meetings. We met a lot of people and that helped us learn from other experiences. When it comes to design and production, that was no problem because Pim, my middle sister and Sretsis creative director, studied it. But in terms of company organization, I had to find a way to create some structure and that was hard.”

“We are updating everything this year – our website, our profile. It’s really transitioning from the first phase to a new one where we want to take the company to a whole new level. We have always exported, at first through the showrooms and agencies that would sell our collections. Now we have our flagship store in Tokyo so we are doing more retail outside of Thailand and this is our new direction. We have also just launched an online store so we are really trying to expand through other channels.” “What’s next after Japan?” “We are not going anywhere for now besides Thailand and Japan. We want to make everything perfect.”

“When it comes to marketing, there is a big difference between the first ten years and now. During the first ten years it was all about building our brand, creating something exciting for the market. But now we are not new anymore so it is about how to make sure we can maintain our clientele and how to distinguish ourselves from other young designers. We are now dealing with a different set of challenges. So for example, people in Thailand are captivated with social media and some businesses now sell on Instagram. We have to keep up with these sorts of things.”

“Over the years we have had some collections that were a big hit on the market and some collections that did great on the PR side but this is how Pim wants Sretsis to be – unexpected. So for example, Sretsis is normally very feminine with a bit of a rebellious twist but the 2015 collection has a really rock and roll attitude, very rebellious. “What was your most popular collection?” “The 2013 collection, inspired by Mexico’s Day of the Dead, was the best when it comes to sales. It was also after our 10-year anniversary and we had lots of awareness in Thailand. But then the 2015 collection got us on the cover of Japan Times and twice on Women’s Wear Daily so even if it hasn’t sold as much as we expected. It has brought us a lot of coverage and media value and took us to another level in terms of marketing.”

“We are a Thai company but we want to be recognized as an international brand. We have opened our flagship store in Tokyo and we want to push the brand to the next level. The difficult thing is that people want to work with us but at some point they want to move on to an international company because here we are still seen as just a Thai company and we are still small in comparison with the known international brands. So our challenge now is to attract people that would feel Sretsis is their last stop, not their first one. Just as for marketing, we need to retain customers, we also need to retain employees.”

“What keeps you going after 13 years?” “It’s really fun. Sometimes, when we have problems we say we don’t want to do this anymore and move to other things, but truly this is what we enjoy. When we have a show, we make a new look book, we meet new people, we see customers wearing our clothes, it’s fun and very exciting. But the reality is that fashion is not a beautiful thing all the time. That’s just the image but working in fashion is business and requires so much work. People that have never worked in fashion think that it is such a beautiful profession but not everything is beautiful. When you go to trade shows, you have to carry all the suitcases by yourself. You have to set up and be able to do everything yourself as well. We did all of that when we started.”

“It’s true that if you have a network in Thailand, it will help you get things faster but it’s not the only thing. If you are good, you don’t need to have a network. If you believe in your product, in your idea, you can be successful no matter what.”

“What advice would you give to a young aspiring entrepreneur?” “Just try. Don’t be afraid and don’t worry too much about the future. When there are problems, and there are always problems in any business, you don’t need to be scared. You have to find a way to solve those problems. And you will learn from that. Looking back, when we were younger we used to get very stressed every time there was a hiccup but now it happens everyday that there are things we have to solve and it’s normal and we learn all along. So I would say to a young entrepreneur, if you can plan, it’s better. But you will never be able to plan 100% and the attitude one needs to have is that you will be able to solve the problems you’ll encounter.”

Company: Sretsis
Location: Bangkok
Founded: 2003
No of Employees: 80

Owned & Led by 3 Sisters