D of local label dUCk tells Syida Lizta Amirul Ihsan how she deals with customers’ expectations and fame
LOCAL label dUCk is curated as such that it’s narrated by a persona called D. In stories and sketches that appear on Instagram, D lives in a high-rise apartment, has two close friends, Carey and Hannah, and is in a long-distance relationship.
Fans assume that D is nothing more than the voice of the brand’s founder Vivy Yusof but D maintains that she exists. There’s a cute banter between both, with fans commenting, assuming and extrapolating all possibilities like they would in fan fiction.
Meanwhile, the brand grows by leaps and bounds and sells shawls by the thousands. Each Limited Edition collection sells out within an hour.
The brand has an extremely strong emotional attachment with its fans, so praises and frustrations are expressed openly, sometimes to the extent of abuse and meanness.
In an e-mail interview with D (how else?), she explains how she and her team deals with the extremes, the fame and what’s in store for the cult label this year.
HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THE FAME DUCK HAS ACHIEVED IN A SHORT SPAN OF TWO YEARS?
It really helps to have two different people leading the brand. I’m the voice of the brand, focused on operations of the company. My partner Vivy is the face of the brand who handles its image.
I haven’t revealed myself so people can only reach me via social media. But Vivy gets stopped. She doesn’t seem to mind, though, because her life is in the public eye.
LAUNCH DAYS MUST BE QUITE STRESSFUL FOR YOU, JUDGING FROM COMMENTS ON INSTAGRAM. HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THE ANGER AND FRUSTRATION VENTED OUT BY THOSE WHO COULD NOT GET WHAT THEY WANTED?
Truth be told, we have never had a launch that we are 100 per cent happy with. Because of the comments, there is just no way my team can celebrate when things are sold out.
We read all the comments and take note. Some are constructive and I believe these are the comments and the people who contribute to the growth of the brand.
We are such a strong brand because of the community we’ve gathered. Called the dUCkies, they are always telling us about how they feel. If a customer doesn’t care or feel connected to the brand, they won’t bother leaving comments for us to improve.
There are also some who vent out their frustration. I try to leave the negativity out.
But trust me when I say that we always strive to do better so no one feels disappointed on the day we launch a new scarf.
WHAT’S THE MOST FRUSTRATING FEELING WHEN IT COMES TO DEALING WITH THE NEGATIVES?
I feel sad when things get vulgar, when people resort to cursing when products are sold out or people fight while queueing. Sometimes, they turn their frustration into meanness by telling others to boycott us or buy a competitor’s product.
We even had customers threatening and asking our staff to take off their dUCk scarves because they want to buy that.
We delete abusive comments. We have even blocked certain abusive accounts but that angers them even more and they just create new accounts to continue bashing us on social media.
Sometimes, I wonder how it got to this extent, and I try to look for another local brand which has the same pressure so I can learn from it. But at the end of the day, we do our best to manage the situation and take note of what we can to learn from each new experience. We are also grateful for our customers because they are the ones who have built us to where we are today.
People write to us saying they make case studies out of dUCk and that to me, is a challenge to keep being better and better. We know that overall, our customers love us and we are grateful for them.
IF THERE IS ONE THING YOU WANT TO SAY TO DUCKIES, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
To only listen to my description of my products. When we are hyping up a product or a new release, people get impatient and they make their own assumptions.
They describe the product (that hasn’t been launched yet) and the screenshot gets passed around and suddenly people think that’s true. It’s unfair to us and those who believe them.
WHAT IS YOUR OPINION ON RESELLERS WHO BUY DUCK SCARVES AND SELL THEM AT HIGHER PRICES?
I can’t control personal shoppers or resellers. dUCk sells only at our store in Pavilion and on FashionValet. But now there is a culture of reselling dUCks at such a high premium and people get mad at us for the mark-up.
I know a scarf that costs RM300 at dUCk is now being sold at RM1,500. That’s more margin than even we make! It’s absolutely crazy and we never intended it to be this way.
We’ve taken steps to curb this; we limit purchases to one per person to avoid resellers buying in bulk. We never announce release times early because we don’t want resellers to prepare in advance but there are always loopholes.
Some resellers hire others to buy, some take emergency leave from work to queue at the store from 4am. And to be honest, they are just like any other customer, they don’t get preferential treatment. I feel like we’ve done everything to manage the reseller situation, but they still exist and there is no way to control this.
DO YOU FEEL THAT SOMETIMES, CUSTOMERS’ EXPECTATIONS ARE TOO MUCH?
Yes, but it’s our job to listen. Vivy is very positive and that positivity is now a culture at dUCk. Your customers are the ones who groom you to be better, so always listen.
Sometimes, it gets hard because dUCk customers notice any small fault we make. In a way, I feel it’s because they love the brand so much that they don’t want to see anything wrong with it or see our quality and service plummet.
But I have my down days too. I feel that for a scarf that is RM130, sometimes customers treat it like a Chanel or an Hermes scarf that costs 10 times as much. We have had returns of scarves that had one tiny dot or with one part of the hem slightly different from the rest.
I understand that we are not cheap, but we are not in the luxury market either. As we elevate our brand and introduce new and better products with slightly higher prices, we have also been met with frustrations.
Overall, I am happy. Almost all releases have been successful, so although there are complaints on social media, the majority of our customers are buying until they sell out.
So social media, as accessible and transparent as it is, isn’t a true representation of how the brand is doing.
WHERE IS DUCK HEADING TO NEXT?
We are going to our first trade show in London in February, and we will see the response then. Some meetings have been set and we want to carefully plan our way into the UK, should there be any opportunity.
I never want to do things for the sake of having the name or temporary fame. It has to be a continuous and well-thought out process, not a chase for 5-seconds of fame.
WHAT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON YOU HAVE LEARNT LAST YEAR?
That we shouldn’t worry too much about competitors or copycats as long as we are always innovating and improving. As the brand gets more popular, I expect others to jump on the bandwagon. So I always have to be one step ahead.
Imitators will always watch our next step but that’s already an advantage because that means we are already ahead. We don’t look back and we always improve our product and branding.
WHAT DO YOU LOOK FORWARD TO THIS YEAR?
So many things — new product lines and new office. We have a few collaborations lined up this year and one of them is going to blow everyone’s mind. but for now, you need to be patient.