Instagram businesses braving the start-up storm
Despite rocky starts, these e-commerce business owners are persevering with their specialised products
As more online businesses sprout up amid the pandemic, some e-commerce business owners say it is not always smooth sailing.
Miss Clarrie Ng, 21, launched a personalised gift and craft business on Instagram in 2019 out of curiosity.
She told The New Paper: "I wanted to see if business is something I could consider as a career path."
After graduating from Ngee Ann Polytechnic last year, she continued with @shopcnky.sg as "I was still figuring out what I wanted to do in life".
"Initially, I knew my designs were not up to standard, and I wanted to create a distinct style for my illustrations to avoid copyright issues," said Miss Ng.
She offers a variety of products, from painting boards to digitally illustrated canvas paintings.
Her illustrations have a faceless design, with thick pink outlines, which set her apart from competing pop-up craft businesses in the market.
She also offers other styles using different brush strokes and lines to mark prominent facial features.
Miss Ng, who runs the business solo, usually gets support from hired vendors and commissioned artists.
But with no prior business background, she had to depend on extensive online research.
Working full-time as a market research surveyor now, she admits that keeping to an intense schedule was a challenge.
"Sometimes, customers have a lot of preferences, so the back-and-forth process can be very time consuming," she said.
Despite the challenge, Miss Ng aims to continue with the business venture until she figures out her career.
In search of a side income, Mr Mohamed Abu Bakar and his wife, Ms Waheedha Banu, decided to leverage their love for organic skincare, and the couple set up kissmescrub on Instagram in May last year.
Mr Abu, 29, told TNP: "The skincare (business) is not straightforward. We had to take our time and conduct product tests on shelf life and allergy testing."
Fulfilling orders was sometimes tough for Mr Abu, who works in the information technology industry. His wife, 27, is a pre-school teacher.
Despite having jobs and a newborn, they created a schedule to work on their range of products without any external help.
From body scrubs to face masks, the duo try to incorporate familiar ingredients such as turmeric into their products, as well as unconventional ingredients such as Himalayan pink salt and soft chocolate.
Mr Abu said: "Our initial target was Indian women who were into organic skincare, but we are now getting more customers of different ethnicities and sexes, and that is rewarding."
Tips of the trade
- Coming up with a brand name and logo is important on Instagram. It ensures that the handle is not taken up and helps with brand recognition among potential customers.
- Choose your timing to post content and promotion carefully. Prime time is usually around 7pm, when people get off work or school and have the time to go online.
- Set a limit to pre-orders if you are unable to handle the demand.
- Plan a system that works around your job schedule.